Text: John 18:1-40, Daniel 7:14
The hour Jesus was born for had finally come. He’d been predicting it, waiting for it, knowing what it would require of Him: arrest, pain, and death. For anyone else, this would be a crisis moment, to be sure. For the Son of God, it was an opportunity for the most profound display of obedience, love, and humility ever known.
John’s account of this night shows us the holiness of Jesus, God incarnate—deliberate, powerful, wise, and gentle. Put simply, He is not of this world. But the people surrounding Him? They proved themselves to be oh-so very human.
At this point, Judas’ secret sin had finally consumed him. All those months on the road—stealing from the disciples’ treasury, betraying his friends—had prepared him for this moment, and he intended to capitalize on it. Jesus responded as only He can: by declaring His deity, revealing His glory, and protecting His disciples. And even as He submitted to His arrest, Jesus gave Judas one last chance to see His true identity.
Peter was a man of action, refusing to sit around and wait for Jesus to die. He followed his heart, despite Jesus’ teaching and example—despite knowing better. First, he sliced off the soldier’s ear to protect his Lord, then he denied Jesus altogether. His Savior’s response was not one of condemnation, but of grace. He protected Peter, gently rebuked him, and restored him (John 21). He continued to build Peter’s faith, even in His darkest hours.
Annas was one of the richest, most powerful Jews of his time. There was no way he’d be willing to let some upstart from the outskirts destroy everything he’d spent a lifetime building. Believing Jesus was leading the people away from his agenda, Annas had no problem breaking a few laws to get rid of Him. But Jesus had nothing to hide, no secret life to reveal. So He turned the tables on Annas, subtly challenging the leader’s interrogation of Him (which had been done in secret, and therefore, was against their civil laws).
As for Pilate, he’d learned not to interfere in Jewish matters and had become skilled at shifting responsibility. To him, this was a Jewish problem for the Jews to work out amongst themselves. But to Jesus, this wasn’t just a Jewish issue but a human one, an eternal one. It was about a Kingdom impacting the whole world and beyond, a Kingdom rooted in Truth.
In this series of events, John’s Gospel makes one thing clear: our Savior is fundamentally different from this world. His response is never fed by deception or greed or fear, but rather by an otherworldly compassion for His people and command over all circumstances. He will always accomplish His gracious plan, often in unforeseeable ways.
Like the events in John 18, life can seem like one long, dark night, leaving us feeling betrayed, wounded, and scared. It’s easy to relate to Peter’s impulse to fix the situation, or Pilate’s attempts to distance himself from it. But then I see Jesus walking into the darkness, knowing all there is to fear, yet bolstered by confidence in the Father’s plan to rescue all who love Him.
It’s tempting, perhaps even good, to feel inspired by Christ’s example. But I’m finding I don’t always have the wherewithal to follow Jesus’ lead. I need to lean on Him, push against Him, knowing He will never falter or fail. Seeing His response to such an array of broken people is healing and soul-nourishing for me, a sinner. Our Savior was gentle, trustworthy, and sovereign on the darkest night in history, and He will be so with us today, even now.
Carolyn Denny dabbled in the Navy, politics, business, and publishing before she discovered her true calling: household management. Today she is raising three boys and a baby girl with her husband Josh in Nashville, Tennessee. In those precious moments tucked between bedtimes and carpools, Carolyn loves to teach the Bible and write about how God shows up in her messy world.