Week 2, THE GARDEN
This Easter we want to go through Jesus’ last 24 hours. So we are taking four weeks to talk about: The Last Supper, The Garden, The Courtyard and The Tomb. I will be a powerful way to get to know Jesus better.
Today is The Garden. Please open your Bibles to John 18:1-12.
We come this morning to the eighteenth chapter and this is one of the really thrilling chapters because it is, in a sense, a narrative that is historical and could be easily passed over and yet when looked at in depth reveals the excellencies of Jesus Christ. This is rich, powerful and insightful.
Now may I add, at this point, a footnote? The reason that Jesus Christ was born was to die. It greatly concerns me today that the movements that have to do with Jesus that are on a human basis, not divine, are always talking about the fact that Jesus was a wonderful person who through one or another of series of circumstances got Himself into a mess and wound up getting crucified. This is the advocation of Jesus Christ, Superstar, this is the line that’s followed in the Passover Plot, the book. And this is a kind of a constant parroted thing by critics and liberals and so forth and so on. But the Word of God clearly tells us and you will understand it when we’re done this morning that Jesus Christ was never trapped, He was never tricked, He was never surprised, He was never a victim, He went to the cross of His own design, of His own will because He was born for that express purpose.
In John 12:27 Jesus says, 27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!”
Okay, I’ll calm down now. Let’s look at John 18:1-12,
18 After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. 3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
Note: John’s purpose in writing the Gospel of John is not to present Christ as man but to present Christ as … what? … as God, as deity. Matthew, Mark and Luke each contain the anguish and the sorrow and the crying and the sweating, as it were, great drops of blood. And they include all those things that make Jesus so humble and human. And they make much of that because that’s important. But John’s purpose is to present deity so you don’t find the anguish in the garden, you don’t find the crying in the garden, you don’t find the sweating and the great drops of blood, you don’t find anything degrading or debasing or humiliating at all in John’s gospel.
Here is an example from Luke 22:44 and following,
“44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping?”
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. 11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”12 So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up.
Great passage of scripture…There are four important features in these verses that show us the supremacy of Christ. And what could be a humiliating thing as He’s arrested as a common criminal turns out to be glory. The four things that I want you to see are His supreme courage, His supreme power, His supreme love and His supreme obedience. And we’ll take them one at a time.
- His Supreme Courage (1-4)
“After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees.” (1)
- Courage to Go to the Garden (Last Week, Mt 26:30)
“Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.”
1. Jesus moves immediately to go to the garden of Gethsemane. Concluding His prayer then in the upper room, and a time of fellowship and instruction with His disciples, the session is ended and Jesus moves out. He moves immediately to go to the garden of Gethsemane.
2. Why did He go there?
Now it had been His custom throughout the years of His ministry to spend His evenings on the Mount of Olives in that garden. Gardens on the Mount of Olives belonged to rich people in the city because of the closeness of the dwellings in the city, they couldn’t have gardens there, and so many rich people had private gardens over across on the little Mount of Olives. And evidently Jesus had known an individual who perhaps had given Him the key to the gate and He retired frequently at the garden of Gethsemane, over on the Mount of Olives. And it was His custom to go there. In fact, John 7 says at the end of the chapter: “Every man went to his own house, “and chapter 8 begins with the words: “And Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.” That was home to Jesus. That was where He became close to the Father. That was the time He could rest from the trials and the conflicts of the people and be with God. And so He went to the Mount of Olives. And He gathered His disciples and took them with Him.
So “Why did He go there. I mean, if He knew He was going to get into this mess, why did He go there?” Well, He went there because
a. It was the place of prayer and He wanted to talk to His Father
b. He also went there because it was a place of rest, to get away from the conflict.
c. He went there because it was the place of fellowship with His disciples, where they could be alone together.
But all of that is secondary. The real reason He went there
d. It was a place where He knew Judas would Find Him
“Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples.” (2)
and He knew the soldiers would be there and He wanted to be sure that it would be very easy for them to arrest Him. He wanted to put it in a place where the arrest and the betrayal could take place as He wanted it to take place.
B. Now notice verse 3: “Leading Priests & Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.”(3)
1. Jewish leaders, Gentile soldiers and Jewish temple police.
You see, he went to the chief priests and Pharisees, worked out the deal and they were the ones that got the police and the Romans in on it.
And here it comes, Jewish leaders and Gentile soldiers and Jewish temple police. Now you wonder how many of these.
a. Contingent was 120 Roman Soldiers from Fort Antonia
c. They sent many to get one Galilean carpenter & His friends.
Well, it’s hard to know exactly but let me give you an idea. It says that an Contingent is about 120. They have all come from Fort Antonia which is right up against the temple ground. You can still see the pavement there, the Gabbatha, in which Jesus was tried. It’s still there, the actual stones way down in Jerusalem. It’s butted up right against the temple ground. They got this whole force together and these guys are armed to the teeth. They are professional soldiers ?? like none other in the world were the Roman soldiers.
b. Temple Guards/Religious Leaders, all Armed and Ready!
In addition to them you have a great group of the temple guards. We don’t know how many of those. Say a hundred or maybe two hundred. Plus all the chief priests and the Pharisees and a whole mob and they all come to Christ and Judas is out front.
c. They sent many to get one Galilean carpenter & His friends.
I’d say that’s a compliment to Jesus to send that many to pick up one Galilean carpenter and His friends. 300 or so people to get Jesus and his 11 disciples…
2. When They Arrived…‘Jesus Stepped Forward’
”Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them.” (4a)
And what does he do when he arrives in the garden? He stepped forward all 200 0r 300 that he just walk with all there weapons and all…Jesus opens the gate to the garden and Steps out there. That is courage.
a. Judas Gives Jesus a Kiss (Matthew 26:48)
The Bible tells us in the other gospels, John doesn’t include the kiss because that’s degrading and John is exalting Christ … but in the other gospels we read that Judas went up and kissed Jesus.
b. Jesus Asked the Question: “Who are you looking for?” (4b)
Did you get that? That’s His supreme courage. He knew exactly what was going to happen and He didn’t wait for His enemies to get Him. He wasn’t hiding behind an olive tree. He went out the gate and met them when they were on their way in. This is so humble, so willing the self?sacrifice of Christ.
Now before anything happened, Jesus the one in control, said
“Who are you looking for?” he asked. (4)
Now He went out of the gate. They were coming to meet Him. He had seen them all the way. He had seen Judas in His omniscience get it all together. He had seen them all come out the gate, down the hill, up the hill, He walked right out and He met them. Majestic courage. This is the courage of Jesus Christ. Oh what courage He has. Oh what magnificent boldness to go to the cross for us.
Now, secondly, let’s look at His Supreme Power, and this is tremendous. This is fantastic. Verses 5-6.
II. His Supreme Power (5-6)
“Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. ‘I am he,’ Jesus said.” (5a)
(Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.)
A. God’s Name – “I am”
“God replied to Moses, ‘I am who I am’” Exodus 3:14
Now whose name is that? That’s God’s name.
1. Jesus used the great ? I AM (Yahweh in the OT)
In Exodus 3 God is mad at Moses inability to move forward so God gives Moses His name…
God replied to Moses, “I am who i am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:14
Jesus said ? I am the I am
He had previously sad to these same religious leaders…On one occasion…
“Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am!” (John 8:58)
On another occasion he said…
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
2. Jesus Keeps Judas around for a Lesson in Power
There is another Powerful phrase in this verse.
Look at this next little comment.
“(Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.)” (5b)
That’s a fantastic statement. What is Judas doing there? Why doesn’t he get out? I mean, he’s got his money, why doesn’t he just go? I think Jesus kept Judas around to show him that he has no power and is not part of the plan…look at this last scene of Judas’ life with Jesus…very powerful.
Maybe Jesus leaned over to Jesus and said, watch this!!!
B. There is Power in the Name
6 As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground!
Now do you know why he wanted us to know that Judas was there? Because he wants us to know that Judas has no power at all. All Jesus has to do is say His name and they all went down. Jesus is standing up and the whole Roman army on the ground. You see, he wants us to know that He has power over them. Do you know those disciples saw that, didn’t they? He wanted them to know, He wanted us to know, He wanted Judas to know and the whole Roman army to know and all the Jews to know that He was in control. That He was laying His life down. That nobody was taking it away from Him. And He just said “I am” and woof ?? a thousand people went down.
Now do you see what John is showing us here? This is no victim; this is the majestic Son of God displaying power. The whole pile fell down … supreme power. So we see His supreme courage and His supreme power.
III. His Supreme Love (7-10)
Now let’s look at a third thing … His supreme love. John shows us through this narrative not only the power and the courage but the love. As we’ve seen, let me just give you a little quiz, don’t answer out loud, but just in your own mind. We have seen that in all of Jesus anticipating of the cross He is never concerned about Himself but who is He always concerned about? His disciples, isn’t He? Constantly on His mind … the selflessness of Christ. And it’s exactly what you see here … love. When at last He should be thinking about Himself He is thinking about them again. This is really tremendous.
A. The Second Answer…Jesus the Nazarene
7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
1. Did they not Recognize Him or are they Scared or What?
2. Since you Want Me, “let these others go”
8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.”
Why do you think He asked them twice? He had a good reason. Look at verse 8, “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.”
So Jesus twice makes them repeat their orders so that from their own mouths they state that they have no right to the disciples. Did you get it? Twice He makes them say that their orders are to get Him. Then He says ?- All right then, then let these go.
B. Keeping His Word with Love
9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
1. Here He says He Protects them Physically
In Verse 9: In order to fulfill his own statement, see He had to protect them. Why? “He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
2. He said He Protects them Spiritually, in the Last Chapter
“I guarded them so that not one was lost…” (John 17:12)
What Jesus says here is John 18:9, is the same thing he said in John 17:12. However this verse from 17:12 only it was in a spiritual context. He was saying -? I’m not going to lose any of them spiritually. But here it’s in a physical context. He doesn’t want them to be captured. He is saying I care for my followers both spiritually and physically.
Now, there you have the protective love of Jesus. He secured their protection by getting them to answer the same question twice and then He does a Miracle for Peter.
3. He Protects them from their Consequences.
He secures their protection by doing a divine miracle to get Peter out of the problem. Look at verse 10,
10 “Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave.”
Now, this is Peter, impetuous Peter. It’s not enough that Christ has protected him, He’s just gotten through a whole dialogue to make sure the disciples didn’t get captured, now Peter draws a knife and starts cutting into the crowd. Jesus protects Peter from the consequences of cutting off someone’s ear.
But Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword back into its sheath.’” (10-11a)
John doesn’t mention it in His Gospel so Luke helps us out…
“Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. (Luke 22:51)
Do you think God’s done some miracles in your life to get you out of some messes? Well, He has in mine. I thank Him for His protective care and keeping me from some crazy consequences.
IV. SUPREME OBEDIENCE (11b-12)
11 Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
A. Put the Sword Back Peter
“This is the very reason I came!” (Jn 12:27)
1. The Cup of God’s wrath against all Sin.
Now notice the word “cup.” The idea of a cup in the Old Testament is associated with judgment, the cup of His wrath. Also in Revelation 10:19 and 14:10, it talks about the cup of indignation, or the cup of wrath. And what He’s saying is He’s going to drink a cup full of wrath. When Jesus went to the cross He drank a cup of wrath. Whose wrath was it? It was God’s wrath against us, us sinners.
2. The Cup is a symbol of God’s Judgment.
And Jesus says: “Shall I not drink God’s cup of wrath, bearing the shame and the agony and the sin and shall I not die feeling the killing death of God’s judgment on sinners?” This is how it’s planned, Peter, shall I not do it?
And Jesus willingly drinks the cup. And, my friends, He died our death. Jesus will die even though the serpent will bruise His heal, even though God will turn His back on Him, His disciples will forsake Him, the Gentiles will mock and scourge Him, the Jews will cry “Crucify Him,” and yet He will die. He will die in love for His own and obedience to the Father’s plan … supreme obedience.
My friends, you have seen in this passage the majesty of Jesus Christ … majestic in His courage, His power, His love, His obedience.
B. Jesus is Obedient to the End
12 So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up.”
But the sad thing is that just like that crowd that night we may not really comprehend it. And verse 12 adds the sad tragic commentary:
12 “So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up.”