In John 18:10-11 the Bible says, "Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priestís servant, and cut off his right ear. The servantís name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up your sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?" This another one of the many times in the gospels where we are shown the impulsiveness of Simon Peter. He had a zeal to serve God, but not after knowledge. The wrath of man cannot perform the righteousness of God.
Violent men came to take Jesus by force, but it certainly was not the will of God that the disciples should use force to resist them. You will not find violence anywhere in the teachings of Jesus or the actions of Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth was kind and gentle, even to His enemies. Whatever is your philosophy of life with the people with whom you have relationships, if you want to follow the teachings of Jesus; then it must be your goal to never initiate physical force with other human beings: not with your spouse, not with your children, not with your neighbors, and not even with your enemies. Remember the example of Jesus. There are other ways of dealing with people. Paul appealed unto Caesar, and you also have every right to use the law to uphold your rights in the country in which you live. But donít ever accept violence as a possible course of action for you to initiate. Remember that Jesus warned that whoever would live by the sword would die by the sword.
After Jesus told Peter to put up His sword, He asked Peter a question. Jesus asked, "Shall I not take the cup that the Father has for me?" The Father has a cup for each of us, and we will only have peace about it if we are willing to receive the cup that He has prepared for us. Beware of your own self-will coming between you and the will of the Father. When you get angry, when you take things into your own hands, you may very well have to learn the same lesson that Peter learned. Itís much better to do what Jesus did and surrender to the will of the Father, than to have to learn the hard lessons that will come when you resist God, and end up going your own way.
In John 18:12-14 the Bible says, "Then the band and the captain and the officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him, And led Him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, who gave council to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people." When the high priest said that one man should die for the people, itís another example of how the power of God uses the weakness of man to decide the ultimate outcome of all things. God is in control, no matter how or why anyone in this world makes their decision. The high priest and the other leaders of the Jews thought that Jesus was a threat to their nation because they thought that He would change the status quo and that He would threaten their alliance with the Romans. They thought that Jesus must be put to death in order to insure that the Romans would not eventually destroy them because of any changes that Jesus might bring. As it turned out Jesus did die for the people, but not in the way that the high priest thought.
The leaders of the Jews were afraid of changes. Evidently they had not learned the lesson that life will always change. You cannot keep changes from occurring. You will be much wiser if your goal is to learn to adjust to change and to accept change than to try and keep it from occurring. You will probably have as much success as the leaders of the Jews did in preventing change, and the Romans ended up destroying Jerusalem in spite of their schemes. In John 18:15-18 the Bible says, "And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and spoke unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then said the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Are not you one of this manís disciples? He said, I am not. And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself." Until the Lord comes and changes all things, there will always be a stigma associated with being a follower of Jesus. Peter made the mistake of getting too close to those of the world and then he became afraid of identifying himself with Christ. Be careful or you will make the same mistake. Make sure that you acquire the habit of allowing your faith to be expressed in a normal and natural way no matter what are your circumstances, and then you will not deny Christ the way that Peter did. "Take the name of Jesus with you, child of weakness."
The Bible says in John 18:19-21, "The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why are you asking me? Ask them that heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said." Jesus was being questioned, not so the truth could be determined, but in order to find a means to better accuse Him. Some things have not changed much in the world. There are many with judicial responsibilities throughout the history of mankind including today, who have prejudged and unjustly condemned the innocent. Jesus was unjustly condemned to death, and this was the will of God; but Jesus was not the last to be so condemned. One of the problems with capital punishment is the undeniable fact that sometimes an innocent man is condemned to die. Thatís what happened to Jesus and it is what has happened to many others since. Even when we put people to death, itís not until ten or more years of expensive appeals have taken place. As the years go by, sometimes the person who has committed the crime has changed so much over the years, that when they are finally put to death, it is as though a completely different person has been executed. That seems to be a very cruel and unusual punishment. Would it not be better to give them life without parole? An innocent person would never be executed, millions of dollars would not be spent on the appeals process, and justice would still be served because the sentence would be life without parole.
Another problem with the death penalty is that once it becomes well accepted and well established into the judicial system, there is always the possibility that the death penalty will be used by the machinery of government for other actions by the citizens. Jesus committed no crime. He said things that were politically incorrect, and ultimately He was condemned to die for the things that He said. Thatís why when Jesus was first arrested, He was questioned about His doctrine. When you agree with the death penalty, you may very well be agreeing to something that will one day be used on people at the whim of the machinery of government.
The Bible says in John 18:22-27, "And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Do you answer the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why do you strike me? Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Are you not also one of His disciples? He denied it and said, I am not. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, said, Did not I see you in the garden with him? Peter then denied again: and immediately, the cock crew." What happened to Peter can also easily happen to us because the world is so much with us. You never know when you go into the presence of a new group of people when you will be challenged concerning your relationship with God as opposed to your relationship with the world. Sometimes you will have to choose between the friendship of the world or being a witness for God. The friendship of the world is enmity with God. The spirit of the world is the spirit of forgetting God and resisting and rejecting God. Peter failed because when he came into the presence of these people, He was not prepared to make a confession of his faith in the Lord.
But the Lord knew that Peter would fail, and Jesus had already warned Peter about the failure; and Jesus told Peter that Peter was going to deny three times before the rooster crowed. When the rooster finally did crow after Peterís third denial, it must have been like an arrow in his heart and in his conscience. God knows how to use our failures, not to condemn us or to reject us, but to teach us so that we will do better next time, and will become better Christians. God does not give up on His children. A bruised reed will He not break, and a smoking flax will He not quench. God is in control, and no matter what happens, He will use all things to work in the lives of His children. After seeing what happened as a result of Peterís failures, no one should ever think that God has given up on them.
In John 18:28 the Bible says, "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover." The judgment hall was the Roman building where Pontias Pilate held his court. The Jews had very strict religious laws concerning where they could go and where they could not go, or they would be defiled. They made the same mistake that many people still make: they thought that their presence in a building made a difference in their spiritual lives. But God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. You cannot worship God more in one place and then less in another; because God is equally in all places. The Jews were concerned about defiling themselves by being in the Roman building, but they defiled themselves anyway by sending Jesus there to see Him unjustly condemned. The amount by which you defile yourself will not be measured by how well you keep the restrictions of your religion, but by how you treat your fellow man.
Jesus went in to the Roman hall of judgment, but the Jews would not go in, so the Bible says in John 18:29-30, "Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation do you bring against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto you." Because they did not have a case against Jesus, the accusers tried to intimidate Pilate, hoping that he would back down and condemn Jesus without really looking into the matter. But Pilate knew what they were up to, and the Bible says in John 18:31, "Then said Pilate unto them, Take you him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews said therefore unto him, it is not lawful for us to put any man to death." The reason that the Jews could not take Jesus and judge him was because they were not permitted to put anyone to death while they were under Roman rule, and the Jewish leaders would not be satisfied with any punishment for Jesus except for death. If the Jews had been permitted to put Jesus to death, they would have used death by stoning; but Jesus had already prophesied that He would die by crucifixion, and we know that God was in control of all of the circumstances of His arrest and judgment, and what Jesus said would happen would happen. Jesus was not stoned to death because the Bible says in John 18:32, "That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which He spoke, signifying what death He should die."
When Pilate realized that the Jewish leaders would not take Jesus back, Pilate returned to investigate the matter more closely. In John 18:33 the Bible says, "Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Are you the King of the Jews?" Pilate asked Jesus the one question for which he could have been legally executed. If Jesus had the intention of raising sedition against the Roman Empire, then He could have been executed. Those who put too much hope in the kingdoms of this world should listen carefully to the answer that Jesus gave. In John 18:34-36 the Bible says, "Jesus answered him, Do you say this thing of yourself, or did others tell it to you about me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you unto me: what have you done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from here."
Jesus did not deny being a King or having a kingdom, but He did make it very clear that He was no threat to the Roman Empire and that He had no intention of raising sedition against it. Those who believe in Jesus and who desire to be followers of His teachings should never be a threat to the government under which they live. The kingdom that we aspire to is not of this world. Our leader lived peacefully under the rule of the Roman Empire, and we should do the same in whatever governmental situation that we find ourselves. If you are a Christian be careful about being disrespectful or disobedient to the governmental authorities. The Bible says in Rom. 13:1-2, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resists the power, resists the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." Jesus did not try to change the kingdoms of this world. Instead, He tried to help people get into the kingdom of God. Jesus could have resisted the authorities of the Jews and of Pontius Pilate, but instead He surrendered to their will and in so doing He did the will of God and He died for the sins of the world.
Copyright; 2000 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
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