This post will not begin with a story from me.
What story do I have that compares with THE Story?
It is Holy Week- a time to remember Jesus’ final days on earth.
In His final days, Jesus prays. He doesn’t run. Or worry. Or strategize. Or plan a counter-attack. He prays.
He prays for Himself. He wrestles with the future that is now just moments away. But yet, always, always, His desire is for God to be glorified, whatever the cost.
And that is not His only prayer.
Jesus also prays for His followers. Moments before His own arrest, Jesus is found praying for His disciples- that they would be protected when He is taken from them. And us, the followers yet to come: that we would be one so the world would see His love.
God’s glory and love. It has always been and will always be about that.
And then, it happens.
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.
Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 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.
Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. – John 18:1-6
This is a holy declaration. This is Jesus of Nazareth. This is I AM, Yahweh, the Holy One. The voice that asked Moses to take of His sandals now causes soldiers to fall down.
This is Jesus. God in human form who walked on seas and could stroll right out of that garden unharmed if He wants to. That might show His glory.
But it would not show His love. And it is in His love that glory is most clearly revealed.
Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” John 18:7-8
In this moment, still in this moment, Jesus thinks of others. He cares for His disciples.
It is always about love.
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.)
Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. –John 18:10-13
The cup of suffering. Jesus always knew it would come to this. And He is ready. He is ready to accept this bitter cup from the Father on our behalf.
Jesus, the great I AM, takes the cup. He is ready to spill His love in blood.
And then, in just few verses, the contrast. Oh the contrast between this loving, selfless, honest Jesus and fickle, egocentric, lying humanity.
After Jesus declares “I am he,” Peter declares “I am not.”
An acceptance born of love and a denial born of fear.
And I realize I am Peter. We all are. We are the frightened humanity unable to bear the cup that Jesus bore for us.
Jesus runs towards what we all run away from. But the cup He takes leaves His arms open wide, ready to hold us when we come running back.
Read the post before this one: How do we bear fruit in our lives?
P.S. Looking for a way to reflect this week? I highly recommend watching The Gospel of John. It brings the words of Scripture to life for me. (Though The Passion of the Christ is also good for reflection, I appreciate the more holistic view of The Gospel of John.)