An internet friend of mine told me, upon slogging through one of my posts, that I could have broken it down into at least three posts. Since then I try to be careful to not overburden the reader, but come on, I have all these thoughts in my head and have to get them out.
The co-leader opened the meeting and had someone read John 18:1-11. He made it clear that his focus was on the power of God as he stood there in the form of a man. Sounded good to me, but quickly I found myself so distracted as he made the same mistake that I did. Reading from the NASB he zeroed in on “the Roman soldiers that were there“, and that is a problem.
Call it what you want, a side note, a distraction, or one of my rabbit trails, but when someone brings up the word humility or humble it is always, in my opinion, misapplied. For me, this word humble really came into being with Moses, for God deemed him an example of humility.
Numbers 12:2-3 NASB and they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the LORD heard it. (3) (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.)
I put both verse two and three up to show that there is a context to the statement about Moses. I believe that what you find when you study out Moses and humility, is that in the face of problems he turned to God. How is this relevant to Jesus, confronted by a band of hostile men, in the garden? Moses became an example of Jesus, the man that was to come. Theology calls Moses a type of Christ.
When you consider Moses upbringing, raised in Pharaoh’s home, educated in knowledge and the Egyptian ways, as well as being crossed trained until he was weaned, and I am guessing his momma carried that out as long as she could, teaching him everything he could absorb about who he really was, a Hebrew. Since the majority of his time is spent learning to be an Egyptian leader, Moses would have been the antithesis of humility, demanding respect and telling people what to do.
Jesus Christ, was God in that garden, and he told them so. ego hoti eimi – ego (I) hoti (because) eimi (was, exist, and will be). When he responded with this statement all that were gathered to take him fell backward. There was very little about that moment that we could consider humble, unless you look at it from the standpoint that Jesus, still choosing to be a man who had set aside his deity, pulled that power from the Father himself.
Not knowing if they even made to their feet we see Jesus saying, Now! whom were you seeking? (my translation)
With that said we jump into the verse and problem with the word Roman as used by the NASB.
John 18:3 CEV Judas had promised to betray Jesus. So he (Judas) went to the garden with some Roman soldiers and temple police, who had been sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees. They carried torches, lanterns, and weapons. Jesus already knew everything that was going to happen, but he asked, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “We are looking for Jesus from Nazareth!” Jesus told them, “I am Jesus!” (The contemporary English version combined verses 3-5.)
A couple of days since I started writing this and I cannot remember precisely why I included this passage from Luke. As I look at it I believe my thoughts may have leaned toward evidence that demonstrates that Judas only made his transactions with “the chief priests and officers“. Verse 2 of Luke 22 tells us that is was the chief priests and the scribes. This all happened before the passover, so the chief priests and the scribes would have had the time to gather those they deemed necessary.
Luke 22:1-6 NASB Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. (2) The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people. (3) And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. (4) And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. (5) They were glad and agreed to give him money. (6) So he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the crowd.
The premise for Judas betrayal is also found in Mark’s gospel chapter 14.
Mark 14:14-26 LITV And wherever he goes in, say to the housemaster, The Teacher says, Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples? (15) And he will show you a large upper room, having been spread and made ready. Prepare for us there. (16) And His disciples went out and came into the city and found it as He told them. And they prepared the Passover. (17) And evening having come, He came with the Twelve. (18) And as they were reclining and eating, Jesus said, Truly I say to you, One of you will betray Me, the one eating with Me. (19) And they began to be grieved, and to say to Him one by one, Not at all I, is it? And another, Not at all I, is it? (20) But answering, He said to them, It is one from the Twelve, the one dipping in the dish with Me. (21) Truly the Son of Man goes as it has been written concerning Him, but woe to that man through whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It were good for him if that man had never been born. (22) And as they were eating, Jesus taking a loaf, blessing, He broke and gave to them. And He said, Take, eat, this is My body. (23) And taking the cup, giving thanks, He gave to them. And they all drank out of it. (24) And He said to them, This is My blood, that of the New Covenant, which is poured out concerning many. (25) Truly I say to you, No more, I may not drink from the produce of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God, never! (26) And singing a hymn, they went to the Mount of Olives.
Matthew gives us an account of Judas getting paid thirty pieces of silver to betray him.
Matthew 26:14-16 NASB Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests (15) and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. (16) From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.
Now as I continued to read I noticed something odd.
John 18:3 NASB Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, *came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
The NASB places the word Roman in a faded type. This has similarities to the Amplified which puts words in italics when there is a presumed reason for the word placement but no real basis for its placement. Such is the case with the word Roman. Many translations use the word Roman to define the Latin word speira, which was translated troops, or cohort. The word means something as simple as a band of men.
The dictionary definition of cohort is:
COHORT, n. 1. Among the Romans, a body of about five or six hundred men; each cohort consisted of three maniples, and each maniple, of two centuries; and ten cohorts constituted a legion. 2. In poetry, a band, mass or body of men.
Are you kidding me? 500-600 men Roman soldiers, along with the Jewish leaders, and Sanhedrin cops. All of which are crowding into the garden to grab one single “insurrectionist.”
Initially I assumed that this was correct. The problem comes when you don’t pursue the truth, and I made some statements based upon incorrect information. I have included those statements to show their inappropriateness.
Judas went and gathered them together. He took them to the place where he would find Jesus.
Using the premise that these were Roman soldiers I asked? What had Jesus done to deserve weapons drawn against him? Maybe this was standard procedure, maybe the Pharisees dramatized the situation enough to alert the Romans. For the Romans to react with the Pharisees implies that this is the case. What did they say to Herod? He calls himself king, demonstrating a potential for rebellion.
Luke’s gospel, while true, could be used to defend an incorrect position, and I did that.
Luke 23:2 ASV And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.
This was of course a lie, created by the Pharisees, and worded to sound like Jesus was an insurrectionist, this should have played the right chords with the Romans.
Although the premise may be true consider that the signal to be given was Judas kiss on the cheek of the master, and he did so. If they all knew this (and I have no reason to believe that he did not tell them that) then there would be no need to ask identifying questions, unless this band of angry men did not personally know Jesus as the Pharisees did.
Did Judas draw that much attention to his cause? For the Romans to send this many men they must have anticipated a riot.
There is no way he carried any clout at all. The Pharisees did not respect him; he was a traitor as they were, and Judas would not have been able to arouse that kind of response out of the Romans.
The IVP Bible Background Commentary states, “Many scholars have noted that this military contingent is described in a manner much like Roman cohorts (so NASB). Nevertheless, the same language was equally used of Jewish units, and this unit is undoubtedly Jewish—the temple guard. (Roman troops would not be used for a routine police action like this one, and Romans would not have taken Jesus to the house of Annas—Joh_18:13—whom they had deposed.)”
It does not make sense that Judas brought 600 Roman troops, plus whatever he brought from the Chief priest. The garden was too small, and he would have told them the number of people who may have been part of any initial threat.
Weapons! Really? If this was primarily a Jewish force, they would have remembered that they tried to stone on several occasions and Jesus slipped away. They were not letting him slip away tonight. In a sense this was a lynch mob, but Jesus would not allow that. He had to be sacrificed and the priesthood had to put him there for the sins of the world. Now was the best time for the true nature of the God-man to step forward.
I mentioned a couple of things at the beginning of this post.
- All those that came to take him were pushed backward to the ground.
- We do not know if they had made back to their feet when he said a second time, “whom do you seek?”
Something I read once tried to prove classic Jewish sarcasm, and that Jesus was just as good at it as they were. An example was in Jesus responses to Nathanael after he responded with, “what good thing comes out of Nazareth?” Watch how Jesus responds to his comment.
John 1:46-51 MKJV And Nathanael said to him, Can there be any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come and see. (47) Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile! (48) Nathanael said to Him, From where do You know me? Jesus answered and said to him, Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. (49) Nathanael answered and said to Him, Rabbi, You are the Son of God. You are the King of Israel! (50) Jesus answered and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these. (51) And He said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Hereafter you shall see Heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
“Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile!” Are you kidding me. That was cut to the bone sarcasm and Nathanael knew it. Jesus rapidly followed that with, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Now he has Nathanael’s attention and Nathanael replies, “you are the Son of God. ..the King of Israel!. Jesus is not letting him off that quick and says something that comes off like, oh, you think that is something, “Truly, truly, I say to you, Hereafter you shall see Heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.“
Now put all this into perspective when you look for God’s deity in the garden scenario. Jesus has already demonstrated an aspect of God’s character when dealing with Nathanael. To the men that have been knocked to their backsides, and may still be lying there, he says, “Whom do you seek?”
What possibilities would that convey? God is in control, not you! How many times has God spoken to our hearts but we do not recognize it, and think that it is our own fantastic minds that came up with that plan. Get over it. God is in control, and Jesus is on a mission and he is not letting some angry mob disrupt his plans. He is to be brutally beaten, accused, and hung on the cross, a sacrifice offered up by the priesthood, for the sins of the world. And he is not allowing any of his disciples to be lost to this angry crowd.
He asked them a second time, Whom do you seek? Were they back on their feet by now? I do not know. How many were now afraid to open their mouths in response.
There was no bartering, He applied some logic and said, “So if you are looking for me, let these other men go.”
John 18:7-9 NASB Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” (8) Jesus answered, “I told you that I am; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” (9) to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.”
He just showed them a small portion of his power and authority. Once again, Whom do you seek?
Alright, since we have established that it is me alone, let these go their way.
I cannot stop thinking about one the scenes from Star Wars where Obi-Wan and Luke are confronted by imperial guards. Luke Skywalker, like Peter is ready to draw his weapon, but Obi-Wan demonstrates the authority and power.
Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don’t need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don’t need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.
Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.
Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.
Obi-Wan: Move along.
Stormtrooper: Move along… move along.
Religion has beat the notion of authority and power out of us. We, as a church fear it, and yet the world craves it. Those in third world nations tend to understand and revel in spiritual power. We have missed out, mocking the movement of the Holy Spirit and our bodies inability to handle the power of God.
I dealt with mediocre all my life and I can tell you that I am sick of it. I want a life filled with power. I have wanted this all my life. Every time I came close religious people beat it out of me. I got distracted and slowed down but I have never lost that desire. Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and:
- empower them
- fill them with a river of living water
- flow out of their innermost being
- bring all things – that he taught them – back to their remembrance
- teach them all things.
I could go on. Though not precisely the words that Jesus spoke directly to them, but since the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, and Jesus is the Word, no matter where it is found in scripture, then he is talking to you and I. Peter stood on the day of Pentecost, empowered by this Holy Spirit, and opened his mouth, influencing over 3000 to come to knowledge of this Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.
Here is the bad news. I believe that time is so short. The beast and the harlot of Revelation are running rampant across the globe, and if you had not noticed they do not care about you. Jesus, just as he promised, is coming soon to catch his own away. There are many that will be left. Decent people, kind people, people who never acknowledged that Jesus is God, and they will be left behind. The events that follow the rapture will be so decimating that 1/4 of the world’s population will be killed as martyrs for Christ. Do you realize that our Mormon and Jehovah Witness friends etc. will have to make some potentially rapid but deadly decisions.
Turn to Jesus Christ while there is time, for no man knows how much time there is left. It could be as you read this. But there is a positive aspect of this. Think about the scene from Stars Wars that I conveyed to you. Part of what Peter preached on Pentecost day was a message based upon Joel chapter 2. If you are brave enough to read the entire second chapter you will find it to be ominous. But even in the midst of destruction there is a light that shines and this is exactly what Peter told those people who could hear him. I hear him!
Joel 2:28, 29, 32 And it shall be afterward, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams; your young men shall see visions. And also I will pour out My Spirit on the slaves and on the slave women in those days.
Joel 2:32 And it shall be, whoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be saved;
Should you choose not to believe me that is your business and loss. Many will bow to the beast ( I happen to think that beast will be Islam and the Mahdi) take what ever marking they demand as submission, and worship the beast (Allah). This will seal their fate eternally from God’s presence.
And it shall be, whoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be saved;
Don’t gamble with this. I am fighting this onslaught from multiple directions. As the situations arise I am alerting people to vote and make your voice known and heard. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians saying that there is something holding back the onslaught of the antichrist. That force is believers and others that are making a stand against the godless world. That is not necessarily true. They have a god and it is themselves. I have been called to be watchman upon the wall, and my job is to blow the warning trumpet as loudly as I can. This is one of the ways I do that. How you respond is on you.
- Arresting God: Red Letter Year 12/17 (mikeraburn.com)
- “Judas”? OR “Peter”? (topetychus.wordpress.com)
- Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies (wehavebeencreated.wordpress.com)
- Christ and the Law of Moses (theeyesoffaith.wordpress.com)
- An Easter message for Christmas: Flags and our identity (paulrobinsonwrites.com)
- Life of Christ – Part 17 – The Last Supper to Gethsemane(3) – Judas Iscariot (edraby.wordpress.com)
- Tabletalk Magazine: Devotions with R C Sproul, Judas Wicked Schemes (fairfieldparkcruisader.wordpress.com)
- Mark 14 (zachscripturestudy.com)
- Life of Christ – Part 17 – The Last Supper to Gethsemane(6) – The Last Supper (edraby.wordpress.com)