In John 18, Jesus was living some of his last hours before he was sentenced to death. He was in a garden outside Jerusalem that he had frequented with his disciples. Just hours before, Jesus with his disciples, including Judas, had sat together around a table to share bread and wine. The scenes of Jesus’s life in these last hours of irony and hypocrisy showed me how we need to continue in faith up to the end of our lives despite setbacks we may encounter.
When Jesus and his eleven disciples were approached by soldiers led by Judas, one of Jesus’s own disciples, Peter stepped forward in the garden, and in an act of what he thought was protection, pulled his sword to strike a blow against an officer of the high priest—only for Peter to learn that he was standing in the way of what God had orchestrated. From our vantage point, we may have thought Peter was brave to take a stand, but God did not need Peter’s sword to protect Jesus and Peter had more to learn as a disciple than belief he could protect Jesus.
From the garden, Jesus was led as a captive to Annas and when questioned about his disciples and teachings, Jesus responded in a truthful and straightforward manner that his teachings were for all and spoken openly to the whole world, not in secret. How ironic and tragic that Jesus, who was innocent, was physically struck at that point for speaking truthfully and respectfully about his ministry for all which was not a ministry to secretly overthrow the ruling government in Jerusalem.
After Jesus was questioned by Caiaphus next, Jesus was led into the praetorium, the palace of the Roman ruler in the province, where Jews would not enter because it made them unclean for the upcoming Passover. How hypocritical for Jesus, the wholly clean and innocent, to be forced into a place considered unclean while the Jewish leaders who falsely accused him stood outside to remain in their opinion clean and guiltfree though they had condemned an innocent man to death.
These passages really highlighted to me how Jesus, the innocent one, was led to trial, falsely accused, sentenced to death by people who did not understand what God had intended even though it had been declared by the prophets and made clear in Isaiah and in Zechariah (7:9) to “render true judgements, show kindness and mercy each to his brother and do not oppress the poor and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart.”
God’s son Jesus was given no true judgment and was oppressed by those in power though Jesus served God wholly and faithfully to the very end of his life. All of these passages reminded me of Jesus’s words to “love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind and your neighbor as yourself” despite how those around me may respond or may judge my actions. The outcome of my actions in His service and under His guidance and direction is in God’s hands and for that I am truly grateful.