God remains in control
by Marlin Caddell
May 19, 2016
JOHN 18:1-12: 1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” 12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him.
On first glance, we may be tempted to think, “Oh, poor Jesus,” as we read this passage. Jesus has just finished saying some of His last words to the disciples, and they are going to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Judas, a close, intimate friend, has betrayed Jesus (for thirty pieces of silver) and has gathered soldiers and officers from the chief priests to come arrest Him.
In John’s Gospel, he tells us these guys are bringing weapons. In Matthew’s Gospel, he fills in that they have brought swords and clubs to arrest Jesus (Matthew 26:47). It seems like they are trying to surprise Jesus in arresting Him in the garden.
Understand, nothing that happens here surprises Jesus.
Take a look at verse 4 where John writes, “Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him….” Jesus already knows that Judas is going to betray Him. He already knows about the soldiers and the officers that are coming. In all the Gospels, Jesus tells His disciples over and over again that He is going to be crucified.
(For proof of that, look at Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:9, Matthew 17:22-23, Matthew 20:18-19, Matthew 26:2, Matthew 26:31-32, Mark 8:31, Mark 9:9, Mark 9:31, Mark 10:33-34, Mark 14:8, Mark 14:27-28, Mark 14:41, Luke 9:22, Luke 9:44, Luke 18:31-33, Luke 24:6-7, John 3:14, John 8:28, John 10:17-18, John 12:7, John 12:23-24 and John 12:32-34.)
This plan of salvation, to die in our place for our sins, has been in place since before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). So Jesus is in complete control of what is happening here in the garden.
See His control in the passage. When these soldiers come up, Jesus doesn’t cower behind the disciples or hide in the garden. In verse 4, it says Jesus stepped forward (probably in front of the disciples) and said, “Whom do you seek?”
When Jesus proclaims who He is in verse 6, these SOLDIERS, trained for battle, fell to the ground. Different biblical scholars have differing opinions on this verse, but when Jesus truly identifies Himself, knees WILL absolutely bow (Philippians 2:10-11).
Again, these soldiers have come to arrest Jesus and He tells them what to do. In verses 8-9, Jesus tells the soldiers that they are not going to arrest His disciples. In essence Jesus is saying, “You can take Me, but leave my disciples alone.” The soldiers listen to Him.
Lastly, see in verses 10-11 that Jesus doesn’t need Peter’s single sword to stop what is happening here. In Matthew 26:53, Jesus talks about being able to call 12 legions of angels (72,000+) if He wanted to wipe the floor with these guys. Jesus willingly goes with these soldiers, and He is going to willingly die in our place for our sins (John 10:18).
So, what does talking about Jesus being in control in the garden mean for us? If Jesus can stand in complete control in the middle of this situation, where He is being arrested and bound for beatings and crucifixion, we can rest that Jesus is in complete control in the middle of our circumstances.
There is NOTHING outside of His control. There is NOTHING that surprises Him. He is our mighty refuge that we can trust!