Monday, April 27, 2015

W—Willing Sacrifice

Journey from A to Z through the Gospel of John with rookie bloggers who are seeking to honor their friend, Tina Downey.

After speaking to His disciples about their relationship to one another, to Himself and to the world, Jesus concludes his private teachings with these words:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." —John 16:33 

Next, John records Jesus' prayer to the Father. It opens like this:

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. —John 17:1-4  

Although Jesus is clear in His understanding of the impending betrayal, arrest and crucifixion, He describes Himself as an overcomer, and speaks of successfully completing His mission, of having authority over all, and of glory. Clearly, Jesus moves intentionally toward the cross—not as a victim, but as a victor.

We see glimpses of this attitude throughout the gospel. Like when Jesus describes Himself as the good shepherd that lays His life down for His sheep.

"I lay down my life-- only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." —John 10:17-18

But it is in the arrest and trial of Jesus that we see most clearly that Jesus is in command.

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove..Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. 

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, "Who is it you want?"  

"Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. 

"I am he," Jesus said. ... 

When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. 

Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?"  

And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."  

"I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. John 18:1-11 

Here, Jesus' authority and presence overwhelm the mob that come to arrest Him. He practically turns Himself in. When Peter tries to defend Him by striking out with a sword, Jesus reprimands him:
"Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" 

Clearly, Jesus submits to His Father's will. Even before Pilate, He sees His captors as having no real power in events as they unfold. 

"Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?"
Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.—John 19:10-11 

Ultimately, Jesus goes to the cross a willing sacrifice, embracing His heavenly Father's purposes, 

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