THE STILL CENTER
Loving Lord, may the mind of Christ fill my thinking and the life of Christ guide my living. I want to make an impact for you.
Read JOHN 18:1–14
18 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”[a]
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
- John 18:9 John 6:39
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Gethsemane was a place the disciples had come to associate with encountering God in prayer. Where do you go when you need to meet with God?
After the Last Supper, Jesus leads the disciples to a beloved place: an enclosed garden where he and the disciples have often gathered to pray. While John elsewhere hints at Jesus’ distress,1 here he appears as the still center around which the whole of the story turns. There are other agents – Judas, servants of the religious leaders, a squad of Roman auxiliaries led by an officer, and Simon Peter with a single sword – but Jesus is never at their mercy. Not until Jesus consents does the arrest actually take place.
This sense of allowing his arrest – and consenting, therefore, to all that follows – is particularly marked in verses 4–7. Challenging those who have come to arrest him, Jesus asks who they are seeking. When they state that they’re seeking him, Jesus replies with words that consciously echo the divine name of the Lord (as is the case throughout John’s Gospel with the ‘I am’ sayings2). At these words, those who’ve come to arrest Jesus draw back and some fall to the ground, presumably in awe. Despite coming in overwhelming numbers to arrest Jesus, just two words expressing his divine nature render them powerless to come near.
However, that’s not God’s purpose here – it just underscores the reality that their purpose cannot succeed unless it also furthers that of God.3 Jesus invites them to start again, reassuring them that there’ll be no repeated outbreak of God’s glory as long as those accompanying him are allowed to leave. When Peter misguidedly seeks to resist the very arrest to which Jesus is consenting, he’s firmly rebuked for once again getting between Jesus and his destiny (vs 10,11).4 Jesus is the still center around which the whole story revolves.
Rooted in prayer, Jesus was not at the mercy of events. Where do you need a greater sense of rootedness?
Father, forgive me for my limited understanding and my wavering trust. Infuse me with trust in your greater plan and purpose.
1 John 12:27,28; 13:21–30 2 Eg John 6:48; 10:11; 15:1 3 Cf Acts 4:27,28 4 Cf Mark 8:32,33