April 9, 2004
John 18:1 - 19:42
Jesus, having prayed this prayer, left with his disciples and crossed over the brook Kidron at a place where there was a garden. He and his disciples entered it.
Judas, his betrayer, knew the place because Jesus and his disciples went there often. So Judas led the way to the garden, and the Roman soldiers and police sent by the high priests and Pharisees followed. They arrived there with lanterns and torches and swords. Jesus, knowing by now everything that was coming down on him, went out and met them. He said, "Who are you after?"
They answered, "Jesus the Nazarene."
He said, "That's me." The soldiers recoiled, totally taken aback. Judas, his betrayer, stood out like a sore thumb.
Jesus asked again, "Who are you after?"
They answered, "Jesus the Nazarene."
"I told you," said Jesus, "that's me. I'm the one. So if it's me you're after, let these others go." (This validated the words in his prayer, "I didn't lose one of those you gave.")
Just then Simon Peter, who was carrying a sword, pulled it from its sheath and struck the Chief Priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. Malchus was the servant's name.
Jesus ordered Peter, "Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I'm not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?"
Then the Roman soldiers under their commander, joined by the Jewish police, seized Jesus and tied him up. They took him first to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple was known to the Chief Priest, and so he went in with Jesus to the Chief Priest's courtyard. Peter had to stay outside. Then the other disciple went out, spoke to the doorkeeper, and got Peter in.
The young woman who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, "Aren't you one of this man's disciples?"
He said, "No, I'm not."
The servants and police had made a fire because of the cold and were huddled there warming themselves. Peter stood with them, trying to get warm.
Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, "I've spoken openly in public. I've taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together. Everything has been out in the open. I've said nothing in secret. So why are you treating me like a conspirator? Question have been listening to me. They know well what I have said. My teachings have all been aboveboard."
When he said this, one of the policemen standing there struck Jesus across the face, saying, "How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!"
Jesus replied, "If I've said something wrong, prove it. But if I've spoken the plain truth, why this slapping around?"
Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to the Chief Priest Caiaphas.
Meanwhile, Simon Peter was back at the fire, still trying to get warm. The others there said to him, "Aren't you one of his disciples?
He denied it, "Not me."
One of the Chief Priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, "Didn't I see you in the garden with him?"
Again, Peter denied it. just then a rooster crowed.
They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor's palace. It was early morning. They themselves didn't enter the palace because they didn't want to be disqualified from eating the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and spoke. "What charge do you bring against this man?"
They said, "If he hadn't been doing something evil, do you think we'd be here bothering you?"
Pilate said, "You take him. judge him by your law."
The Jews said, "We're not allowed to kill anyone." (This would confirm Jesus' word indicating the way he would die.)
Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, "Are you the 'King of the Jews'?"
Jesus answered, "Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?"
Pilate said, "Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?"
"My kingdom," said Jesus, "doesn't consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn't be handed over to the Jews. But I'm not that kind of king, not the world's kind of king."
Then Pilate said, "So, are you a king or not?"
Jesus answered, "You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice."
Pilate said, "What is truth?"
Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, "I find nothing wrong in this man. It's your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the 'King of the Jews'?"
They shouted back, "Not this one, but Barabbas! " Barabbas was a Jewish freedom fighter.
So Pilate took jesus and had him whipped. The soldiers, having braided a crown from thorns, set it on his head, threw a purple robe over him, and approached him with, "Hail, King of the Jews!" Then they greeted him with slaps in the face.
Pilate went back out again and said to them, "I present him to you, but I want you to know that I do not find him guilty of any crime." just then Jesus came out wearing the them crown and purple robe.
Pilate announced, "Here he is: the Man."
When the high priests and police saw him, they shouted in a frenzy, 'Crucify! Crucify!"
Pilate told them, "You take him. You crucify him. I find nothing wrong with him."
The Jews answered, "We have a law, and by that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God."
When Pilate heard this, he became even more scared. He went back into the palace and said to Jesus, "Where did you come from?'
Jesus gave no answer.
Pilate said, "You won't talk? Don't you know that I have the authority to pardon you, and the authority to crucify you?"
Jesus said, "You haven't a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven. That's why the one who betrayed me to you has committed a far greater fault."
At this, Pilate tried his best to pardon him, but the Jews shouted him down: "If you pardon this man, you're no friend of Caesar's. Anyone setting himself up as 'king' defies Caesar."
When Pilate heard those words, he led Jesus outside. He sat down at the judgment seat in the area designated Stone Court (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). It was the preparation day for Passover. The hour was noon. Pilate said to the Jews, "Here is your king."
They shouted back, "Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!"
Pilate said, "I am to crucify your king?"
The high priests answered, "We have no king except Caesar."
Pilate caved in to their demand. He turned him over to be crucified.
They took Jesus away. Carrying his cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill (the name in Hebrew is Golgotha), where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote a sign and had it placed on the cross. It read:
JESUS THE NAZARENE
THE KING OF THE JEWS.
Many of the Jews read the sign because the place where Jesus was crucified was right next to the city It was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, The Jewish high priests objected. "Don't write," they said to Pilate, "'The King of the Jews.' Make it, 'This man said, "I am the King of the Jews."'"
Pilate said, "What I've written, I've written."
When they crucified him, the Roman soldiers took his clothes and divided them up four ways, to each soldier a fourth. But his robe was seamless, a single piece of weaving, so they said to each other, "Let's not tear it up. Let's throw dice to see who gets it.' This confirmed the Scripture that said, "They divided up my clothes among them and threw dice for my coat." (The soldiers validated the Scriptures!)
While the soldiers were looking after themselves, Jesus' mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.
Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, "I'm thirsty"
A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, "It's done ... complete." Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.
Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation, and so the bodies wouldn't stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn't break his legs. One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.
The eyewitness to these things has presented an accurate report. He saw it himself and is telling the truth so that you, also, will believe.
These things that happened confirmed the Scripture, "Not a bone in his body was broken," and the other Scripture that reads, "They will stare at the one they pierced."
After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body.
Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. They took Jesus' body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. So, because it was Sabbath preparation for the Jews and the tomb was convenient, they placed Jesus in it.
<The Message >
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1. "Who are you after?"
Oops, caught again.
2. What happens when you ask this question when you are in a pickle? They may well name some part of you, even a large part. Then comes the question of how you are going to respond to being caught, accused (whether accurately or not), and bound.
Will you drag others in to be with you? Will you take the rap for someone else? Will you still love and heal your temporary enemy (yes, from another tradition, but still powerful). What truth will you convey with your behavior.
3. While suffering does take place in this scene we can be left with are glimpses of care - being straight-forward with circuitous people, excusing friends from conflictual situations involving oneself, saying "let's go ahead", not avoiding violence headed one's way, modeling a weakness that allows others to care and to anoint.
John can be read as Jesus above suffering. It is also possible to read John as Jesus immersed in suffering but not adding to it. Suffering is so how are you going to deal with it today (it is present right now, known or not known, understood or not understood). How do this images act for us? Are they cathartic to get rid of an overload of suffering? Are they permission to move into suffering, not as illusory or controlling, but as a life bent on growing forward, no matter what?