John 18

Seized in the Garden at Night

 1 Jesus, having prayed this prayer, left with his disciples and crossed over the brook Kidron at a place where there was a garden. He and his disciples entered it. 2-4Judas, his betrayer, knew the place because Jesus and his disciples went there often. So Judas led the way to the garden, and the Roman soldiers and police sent by the high priests and Pharisees followed. They arrived there with lanterns and torches and swords. Jesus, knowing by now everything that was coming down on him, went out and met them. He said, “Who are you after?”

   They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”

 5-6He said, “That’s me.” The soldiers recoiled, totally taken aback. Judas, his betrayer, stood out like a sore thumb.

 7Jesus asked again, “Who are you after?”

   They answered, “Jesus the Nazarene.”

 8-9“I told you,” said Jesus, “that’s me. I’m the one. So if it’s me you’re after, let these others go.” (This validated the words in his prayer, “I didn’t lose one of those you gave.”)

Jesus, You are the one aren’t You.  You are who I am after.  You are the only one that matters.  I live trying to be happy or have a good marriage and raise good kids, but in the end, You are the one.  Why can’t I seem to remember every moment of every day that in the end, it is only You.  I need to obey You constantly, and everything else will fall into place.  You are the one, the only one.

And Lord, when I recognize You as who You are, everything and everyone else does step back like the soldiers.  The soldiers were meaningless here.  You were taken because You chose to be.  They were powerless over You.  Not that the others in my life are meaningless, but in the end, it is You and I, and all too often, I am Judas.  I don’t want to betray You Lord.  I am here, take my hand, lead me through this crucifixion in my life.  Help me die to myself here and now and live with You here and now and forever.  Help me!        

 10Just then Simon Peter, who was carrying a sword, pulled it from its sheath and struck the Chief Priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Malchus was the servant’s name.

 11Jesus ordered Peter, “Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I’m not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?”

Father, my life is a mess of suffering right now.  Is this my cup?  Is this what You have given me?  Is this what You have put me on this earth for?  Am I finally crucifying my own life right here, right now?  If it is, then I know I have a awful road to walk and a awful time of pain ahead of me.  I can’t do this without You.  But Your will be done, whatever it is.     

 12-14Then the Roman soldiers under their commander, joined by the Jewish police, seized Jesus and tied him up. They took him first to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.

Jesus, I know You died for me, but now Lord, take me with You on this journey to Your death and life.  Crucify my life.  Crucify me through You.  My life here has been such a waste.  I’ve blown it every day.  Let me walk this path with You and finally put my hopes and dreams and want and fears and desires all to death with You on Your cross.    

 15-16Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple was known to the Chief Priest, and so he went in with Jesus to the Chief Priest’s courtyard. Peter had to stay outside. Then the other disciple went out, spoke to the doorkeeper, and got Peter in.

 17The young woman who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples?”

   He said, “No, I’m not.”

 18The servants and police had made a fire because of the cold and were huddled there warming themselves. Peter stood with them, trying to get warm.

The Interrogation

 19-21Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, “I’ve spoken openly in public. I’ve taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together. Everything has been out in the open. I’ve said nothing in secret. So why are you treating me like a conspirator? Question those who have been listening to me. They know well what I have said. My teachings have all been aboveboard.” 22When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!”

 23Jesus replied, “If I’ve said something wrong, prove it. But if I’ve spoken the plain truth, why this slapping around?”

Jesus, I know You speak the truth in Your Word.  Sometimes I don’t like what You say.  I twist it or ignore it, which in effect is slapping You in the face.  When You bless me, and yet I complain, I slap You in the face.  When I say a harsh word or criticize unlovingliy another person, I slap them in the face, which is slapping You in the face.

Jesus, when will kindness be the rule of my life, instead of the exception?  When will I learn to hear You words and accept them without pulling back or getting mad?  When will I love You as I should?  Miracle please.     

 24Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to the Chief Priest Caiaphas.

 25Meanwhile, Simon Peter was back at the fire, still trying to get warm. The others there said to him, “Aren’t you one of his disciples?”

   He denied it, “Not me.”

 26One of the Chief Priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?”

 27Again, Peter denied it. Just then a rooster crowed.

Jesus, I am really good at denying You.  When I socialize and drink too much.  When I laugh at an obscene joke…and then tell one of my own.  When I don’t say what I know for sure You would say in a situation.  When will I hear the rooster crow?  When will I finally go too far and weep at how I disown You.  When will I stop it completely and truly live 100% of the time loving You and doing Your will?  Will it ever happen?    

The King of the Jews

 28-29They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s palace. It was early morning. They themselves didn’t enter the palace because they didn’t want to be disqualified from eating the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and spoke. “What charge do you bring against this man?” 30They said, “If he hadn’t been doing something evil, do you think we’d be here bothering you?”

Jesus, the Pharisees totally avoided the question, for they had no real answer.  You were completely innocent.  You were all powerful and completely innocent, yet You chose to die…for me.  Lord, touch my soul with this truth.  Sink it deep within me and use it to make me so sorry for my sins and to make me repent and mourn for the pain I caused You.    

 31-32Pilate said, “You take him. Judge him by your law.”

   The Jews said, “We’re not allowed to kill anyone.” (This would confirm Jesus’ word indicating the way he would die.)

 33Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”

 34Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?”

Holy Spirit, embolden me and enlighten me, so I proclaim Jesus as my King “on my own”.  Help me not to do this to fit in, or for attention, or because it is what I’ve been told all my life.  Help me, inspire me, change me.    

 35Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?”

 36“My kingdom,” said Jesus, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”

Jesus, You were not this world’s kind of king, help me to not be this world’s kind of servant.  Change me so much.  Change me so I love the lowly.  Help me be gentle and kind and loving whether I am loved or not.  Change me so I truly follow You, not my own desires and wants.

Lord, I so easily mess this up.  The person in this world who is closest to me thinks I am a self-centered egotistical bore who wants to put others down so I look good.  If that is true, help me see it, and cut it out of my life.  Don’t let me be like this world.  Make me like You.    

 37Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”

   Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”

 38-39Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Jesus, I do want truth in my life Lord.  I want to know and understand what is real and important in Your eyes.  I know I can avoid truth in my life.  I know I have avoided seeing myself as I really am.  I know I have avoided facing my weakness and sin.  I also know I have often not wanted to face what You are calling me to and what You want to give me.  Please change all that Lord.  Hit me between the eyes with all the truth I can handle.  What is left of the life I was building?  What do I have to lose?  It is time Lord.  I can’t be less capable, but it is all up to You anyway.  Open my eyes and mind and heart.  I want truth and it is You.    

   Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, “I find nothing wrong in this man. It’s your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the ‘King of the Jews’?”

 40They shouted back, “Not this one, but Barabbas!” Barabbas was a Jewish freedom fighter.

Jesus, Your own people completely disowned and rejected You.  They chose a criminal over You.  But I know I can do the same thing.  Every time I choose to sin, and I do choose it, I am following in their footsteps.  Lord, help me to choose You.  In all the little things in my life, help me choose to serve and not to be served.  Help me choose You.