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By Tyson Thorne

October 8, 2019

John 50 Large

Today we make a powerful transition in the Gospel of John. Jesus is about to be arrested and enter into the final hours of his life. It is from this point forward that Jesus most dreaded. Even so, he steels his face and marches bravely into harms way. It is also a transition in structure. With the end of Jesus' prayer in chapter 17 we finish section five, The Preparation for the Departure of the Messiah. Section six is the last major portion of John's book and covers The Crucifixion and Consummation of the Messiah (18.1-21.25).

Those familiar with the passion of the Christ will find no surprises in these first 27 verses of chapter 18, which means we need to think about things a little deeper if we are to uncover the truth of the moment and to more greatly appreciate just what Jesus was enduring.

I don't think we've said much on this site about the interaction of the spiritual world and the physical one. This requires a new way of thinking. It means that we have accepted the truth regarding the purposes and actions of devils and angels even though we do not see them. For most people, the physical world is their chief concern. We may believe in spiritual beings and order, but we think it rarely (if ever) impacts our lives. What we see, though, hear, taste and feel consumes our lives. For the physical world, the physical world is the chief concern. Everything else is a distant second. This is not a biblical thought pattern.

For the spiritual world, the chief concern is also the physical world. Our experience is the one that is being fought over between the powers of heaven and hell. Heaven is a fortress, a stronghold, that contains the very throne room of God. It is where the Angels still largely reside, when they aren't on Earth doing the will of Elohim. But the Earth is a battleground. Satan wants it, and all who inhabit it. This is a battle he believes he can win. He can thwart God's plans and purposes for the people of the planet. He can turn their allegiance from God to himself. Again, this isn't new teaching, but what we rarely consider is how our actions help turn the tide of war from one direction to another.

For example, before the war in Iraq the Christian population in the country was nearly 20 percent — higher than in any other Middle Eastern nation. Today it is between one and two percent. The war we fought was meant to be good, but it backfired and ceded ground to our spiritual enemy. Likewise, decisions based in the spiritual world often impacts the physical. Look no further than Genesis chapter six for proof. Actually, go ahead and look further, for this truth is woven throughout the entire Bible.

Why do I bring this up? Because as we read through today's passage we need to think about in these terms. Who is winning and who is losing in the war for planet Earth? How are the decisions of men impacting the unseen realm? At the start of chapter 18 Jesus has taken the disciples to the garden to pray and prepare for the events ahead. Even as he does so, Judas is already working with the enemy to arrest Jesus. The last word about Judas given us by the author was that Judas was possessed by Satan. I believe he is still in this demonized state which is why he was able to persuade the chief priests and the Pharisees to give him a squadron of soldiers to command. After all, Stan is the serpent, and there is no one more crafty than the serpent.

In true God style, Jesus approaches the soldiers the way he approaches sinners in general, with a question he already knows the answer to. Go back to Genesis chapter 3 for a prime example. Adam and Eve sinned and hid from the Lord when he came to see them that evening. He asks a series of questions, "where are you?" then "Who told you you were naked? and finally "What have you done?" So when the soldiers arrive at the Garden Jesus asks them, "Who are you looking for?" Their response: "Jesus of Nazareth". Careful readers of John's Gospel will remember that Jesus used the name of God given Moses in Exodus 3.14, I AM (chapter 8, verses 24, 28 and 58) and Jesus does so again here. Before we go any further, I think it's important to hypothesize just a little. We have strong evidence that Satan was present and possessing Judas but I find it hard to believe that he was alone. None of the gospels say so, but I think Satan's most trusted guard was also present in each of the guards. Jesus' use of I AM explains the reaction of the guard. While human's alone might have missed Jesus' use of the name of God, no spiritual being would. This may be why guards stumble back and fall to the ground in front of our Savior. Even when it appears that all is lost, Jesus shows his divine authority over all creation.

Next we see the first of three episodes about Peter. Here, he cuts a guards ear off, then following a brief questioning from the high priest Annas, then his first denial of knowing Jesus, followed by more questions by Annas, and then his second and third denials of Jesus. Throughout these episodes we see that Jesus fulfills prophecy (getting the disciples released before his arrest (verse 8)), and that the prophecy Jesus made about Peter comes true. This demonstrates Jesus' absolute knowledge. After his brief discourse, Annas sends Jesus to Caiaphas. Oddly, John does not record anything about that conversation. When we see Jesus next he is being questioned by Pilate (starting in verse 28).

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