Lessons From The Mob

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It is written:

John 18:1-12-When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2  And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3  Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4  Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” 5  They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6  Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7  Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8  Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,”. 9  that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.” 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 the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” 12  Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him.

The arrest of the Son of God teaches us some very important lessons as Christians.

Let’s study.

First, consider with me the group that came to arrest the Son of Man.

“There is something astonishing about the force which came out to arrest Jesus. John said that there was a company of soldiers, together with officers from the chief priests and Pharisees. The officers would be the Temple police. The Temple authorities had a kind of private police force to keep good order, and the Sanhedrin had its police officers to carry out its decrees. The officers, therefore, were the Jewish police force. But there was a band of Roman soldiers there too. The word is speira. Now that word, if it is correctly used, can have three meanings. It is the Greek word for a Roman cohort, and a cohort had 600 men. If it was a cohort of auxiliary soldiers, a speira had 1,000 men: 240 cavalry and 760 infantry. Sometimes, much more rarely, the word is used for the detachment of men called a maniple, which was made up of 200 men. Even if we take this word to mean the smallest force, the maniple, what an expedition to send out against an unarmed Galilaean carpenter! At the Passover time, there were always extra soldiers in Jerusalem, quartered in the Tower of Antonia, which overlooked the Temple, and men would be available. But what a compliment to the power of Jesus! When the authorities decided to arrest him, they sent what was almost an army to do it.” (William Barclay, The Gospel of John, Volume Two (The New Daily Study Bible), 259 (Kindle Edition): Edinburgh, England: Saint Andrew Press)

This was a huge group that was assembled to arrest Jesus. It is interesting to remember that the officers in the Gospel of John had already encountered the Lord, and were amazed at Him and His teaching.

John 7:44-49-Now some of them wanted to take Him, but no one laid hands on Him. 45  Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why have you not brought Him?” 46  The officers answered, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” 47  Then the Pharisees answered them, “Are you also deceived? 48  Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? 49  But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.”

It is worth considering that often evil follows in the way of a multitude. Many believe that “following the crowd” is a wise course of action, yet the Bible warns us against this thinking.

Exodus 23:2-You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.

Matthew 7:13-14-Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Throughout the Gospel of John, we read several occasions where the people rejected Christ and His Word because they desired the support and applause of the crowds.

For example:

John 12:42-43-Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43  for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

There will be times in the Christian life where the multitudes of the world will be vocally and forcefully opposed to the church. Indeed, we see a powerful indicator of this here. The temple police should have been the most trusted of the people: yet they were the very ones who arrested the Savior (at the behest of their superiors, and in contradiction to their own prior experience with Jesus). While there were some among the Jewish people and ruling body who were trustworthy (like Nicodemus), many were only concerned about their political positions and power.

John 11:47-48-Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48  If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”

Second, please consider that this passage reminds us of the Divine identity of Jesus, and the effect that this truth had upon the officers here. When Jesus says, “I am He,” He uses the phrase that is found throughout the Gospel of John to refer to the Divine Name of God (ie, Yahweh).

John 8:58-Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

The Jewish people had a holy dread of the Divine Name of God, such that they would not even use His Name in conversation. This is, incidentally, the background behind the origin of the word “Jehovah.”

“When I teach on the cults, I am sometimes asked where the name Jehovah came from. Many Bible students realize this name is not found in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts from which English translations of the Bible are derived. 4 (The Old Testament contains the name “Yahweh”—or, more literally, YHWH [the original Hebrew had only consonants].) This being so, then, where did the name Jehovah come from? To answer this question, we must recognize that the ancient Jews had a superstitious dread of pronouncing the name YHWH. They felt that if they uttered this name, they might violate the Third Commandment, which deals with taking God’s name in vain (Exodus 20: 7). So, to avoid the possibility of breaking this commandment, the Jews for centuries substituted the name Adonai (Lord) or some other name in its place whenever they came across it in public readings of Scripture. Eventually, the fearful Hebrew scribes decided to insert the vowels from Adonai (a-o-a) within the consonants YHWH. 5 The result was Yahowah, or Jehovah. Hence, the word Jehovah is derived from a consonant-vowel combination from the words YHWH and Adonai. Watchtower literature acknowledges this fact. 6 The simple point I want to make here is that the term Jehovah, strictly speaking, is not actually a biblical term. It is a man-made term that is used to render the Hebrew term YHWH.” (Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, 50-51 (Kindle Edition): Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers)

It is possible that the reason why these officers collapsed at Jesus’ identification was due to His use of the Divine Name.

“Jesus’ self-revelation, “I am” (ϵ̓γώ ϵἰμι, 18: 5, 6, 8), can mean simply “I am (he),” that is, “I am the one you are seeking.” But the reader of the Gospel by this point understands that the Jesus of this Gospel means more than this; he is declaring his divine identity (see comment on 8: 58). 120 Lest anyone fail to grasp this point, the response even of Jesus’ opponents in the story world confirms it (as in 8: 59; 10: 31, 33, 39): the divine name causes their involuntary prostration (18: 6). That this passage is Johannine theology does not render incredible the possibility that it also reflects tradition. Those familiar with the history of revivalism are aware of the frequency of involuntary motor responses to sublime encounters; 121 such phenomena also appeared in ancient Israel (1 Sam 19: 24). It is also possible that, given their suspicion that Jesus was a magician (7: 20; 8: 48, 52; 10: 20), they might have fallen back in terror when he pronounced the divine name. 122 Indeed, within the story world, some of these officers (18: 3) may have already been fearful of apprehending Jesus (7: 45–46)….Other ancient texts report falling backward in terror—for instance, fearing that one has dishonored God. 123 More important, if Eusebius correctly records his words, a Hellenistic Jewish writer roughly three centuries before John reports a significant and perhaps widely known tradition about the divine name. When Moses pronounced the name of his God in Pharaoh’s ear, Pharaoh fell to the ground, unable to speak until raised by Moses; a priest who ridiculed the divine name was then struck dead. 124 Thus it is likely that John provides still another hint of Jesus’ deity in his narration.” (Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John : 2 Volumes, 32065-32080 (Kindle Edition): Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic)

This speaks to use about the need to hold God in reverence in our lives. Do we cultivate a holy respect for God in our lives as His people? This veneration of God should be our goal as we try to purify our speech and our lives before the Lord.

Ephesians 4:29-Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.

Romans 12:1-2-  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

2 Corinthians 7:1-Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Third, it is also important to realize from this encounter that no person had the power to arrest Jesus without His consent. Other times, He had effortlessly and miraculously escaped from the clutches of His enemies.

John 8:59-Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Luke 4:28-30-So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, 29  and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. 30  Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.

The Lord had told the people clearly that no one could take His life.

John 10:17-18-Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

Jesus had the power to halt all of the efforts to arrest Him.

Matthew 26:51-54-And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 52  But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53  Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54  How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

When Peter responded with force to Jesus’ being taken captive, the Lord gently rebuked him. Indeed, Jesus even healed the man whom Peter struck!

Luke 22:49-51-When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50  And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51  But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

What amazing love and compassion the Savior demonstrates again. He heals one of the leaders who had come to arrest Him. Jesus not only preached that we should love our enemies, but He lived that perfectly (Matthew 5:44-45). Indeed, John reminds us of the love of Jesus throughout this entire ordeal:

John 13:1-Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

It is also important to notice again that physical force was not to be utilized in the preaching and progress of the Gospel. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

When we look carefully at the arrest of Jesus,we see such tenderness and kindness from Him Who was so unjustly treated. The Son of God knew what was to happen, and He humbled Himself to save sinners.

Philippians 2:5-8-Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Galatians 2:20-I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Turn to Jesus today.

Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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