As we approach Easter this coming Sunday, I'm doing a short, quick, but meaningful series on the blog of the quotes of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion. I think it is always useful and impactful for us to truly take a moment to pause and think about what Jesus did for us. It was so long ago, but also so relevant for today. Jesus said surprisingly less than usual in his final hours, and to me, this makes what he said even more meaningful and deep.
Throughout Christ's entire life, he had been giving glimpses, clues as to what his ultimate destiny was. It is easy for us to look back and scoff at the disciples. How did they not know about Jesus' arrest? It seems so obvious to us. Yet as we read scripture I think it is good to be gracious. In the same way that the disciples misunderstood and didn't expect Jesus's death, we misunderstand and don't expect his return. People have their short-comings and blindspots regardless of what time period they live in. It is good for us to remain humble as we try to decipher Jesus's message to us.
It seems silly to seemingly start Jesus' journey to the cross with his arrest because the truth is, his journey to the cross started at birth. Jesus entered into the world with one mission- to bring safety and hope for all of us who are literally trapped in sin. He came to save us by giving up his own life. It wasn't an accident or a miscalculation on God's part- it was 100% intentional. This gives us some context when we read the words of Jesus as he is captured:
"Do what you came for, friend.”
“Who is it you want?” Jesus said.
Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”
“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”
“Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
"Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
The phrases, "Do what you came for, friend.", "But the Scriptures must be fulfilled", and "Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" give undeniable evidence that Jesus knew very well his role in what was happening. When he asked who was sought, the question was more for Judas than for his own insight. Even though it was shocking and in some ways ridiculous that the Pharisees never arrested Jesus until that very moment, Jesus understood it all. It was not unexpected for him.
Jesus was so completely aware of what was taking place, that he essentially demanded that it happen. When Peter attacked one of the guards, he was not congratulated or praised. Instead, he was practically scolded. Jesus did not need anyone to save him. He was willingly giving himself up.
I can't help but take a moment to think about Peter's attack. How often we also take the same approach as Christians. We are eager to defend and try to "prove" that Jesus is real and working in the world to our friends or co-workers who don't believe. We also often try to save other people on our own merit. We tell people how to live their lives or give them advice based on what we think is "right". This approach to ministry comes from a well-intending place, but Jesus doesn't need us to try and prove anything. He has it under control. He is an expert at rescuing. Our only job is to do our part, share our own testimonies and lead by example. Jesus knows his role in the world both then and now. He is always willing and able to fill it.