John 18:1-11: Obedience Even Unto Death

Read: John 18:1-11

Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was something that Jesus had known about since the beginning of his ministry. He first mentions the betrayal in John 6:71. Jesus allowed Judas to stick around even though Jesus knew his intent even when under the guise of piety, Judas wanted Mary to sell her perfume for money so Judas could pilfer some off the top for himself. Earlier that evening, the devil had entered into Judas, and Jesus knew this (John 13:2,26).

Jesus had gone out to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mountain of Olives with his disciples before he was betrayed. Jesus here prayed to God if he was willing, to remove the cup from Jesus, but prays not for his own will, but the will of the Father (Luke 22:42). Jesus had laid aside his glory and took on a position of a servant to glorify God and do the will of the Father (John 4:32, John 6:33, John 6:38, Philippians 2:5-11), but the task to Jesus troubled him He knew what he had to do (John 12:27). God knew long before any of the events surrounding the crucifixion transpired that Jesus would have to carry out the will of God on the cross. The task was huge such that it caused angst for one who knew his place in heaven.

Judas came back this time with the Romans, priests, and Pharisees to betray Jesus and have him arrested. When they did come, they asked twice. The first time they ask, Jesus speaks “I am he” and they are knocked back. When Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus he went down in the presence of a glorified Christ (Acts 9:4). This act may have been a demonstration of the plain spoken mode of Jesus who was forcefully willing to take on the forces of darkness even though he was angst about it. They ask again, perhaps because they were dumbfounded by what had just happened. Jesus again answers “I am he” to their question and says to them to let the others go their way.

But Peter in a brash display of zeal draws his sword and cuts the ear off of one of the servants. Jesus tells him to put away his sword, saying in a manner of a rhetorical question, that the cup was given to him by the Father and he should drink it. Peter’s zeal is contrasted with his betrayal. Peter had previously said that he would not betray Jesus even to death, but Jesus knew that Peter would deny him (John 13:36-38, John 18:25-27). Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, as he had spoken it before (John 17:12), and this was being fulfilled.

The plan God had set in motion long before these events had transpired could not be undone. Judas’ betrayal was set in motion and Jesus knew this. Peter in his zeal would try and stop it, but would later deny Christ, and Jesus knew this too. Jesus even asked the Father to remove the cup if possible, but nevertheless submitted to the will of the Father. His act of obedience to the will of the Father is what brought about the redemption of mankind. Paul says that one should have the attitude of Christ Jesus in Philippians 2:5 who became obedient as a servant and obedient even unto death on the cross. Jesus is not only the means of redemption, but also the model of obedience one should aspire too. Jesus says the ones who love will keep his commandments (John 14:15, John 14:23-24, John 15:10). In all things, one should obey the commands of Christ as Christ obeyed the Father, even when one does not want to or being obedient causes angst. Doing so will bring about the will of God. In all things though, Christians can know that anxiety can calmed by way of prayer and petition to the Father–even Jesus did this in the last hours before he went to the cross! One can know that the peace of God is with them (Philippians 4:6-7).

Lord, help me to obey you, even when it hurts.