John: Roller coaster

John 18:1–32

The first 12 chapters cover about a 3-years span of time. The final nine cover about three days. John slows things way down in the days surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus. It must be really central to what he’s trying to communicate. But we get ahead of ourselves.

Since chapter 13, we’ve been at this scene of Jesus and his disciples celebrating the Passover meal together, and Jesus has talked for five chapters straight. Now we get back to the action. And the way John sets it up, it’s like we’ve come to the top of the roller coaster and the bottom is dropping out.

John tells us that Jesus leads the disciples to garden. He doesn’t specify a name. Just a generic garden. Maybe it’s just a garden. But John takes so many lyrical cues from Genesis, maybe we should remember a particular garden, Eden. Maybe he wants to echo another decisive moment in human history that happened in a garden, the fall of humanity. With a group of Roman soldiers and temple security, Judas makes his choice.

Curious that only John of the gospel writers provides this detail of this mob falling to the ground at the sight of Jesus. It’s an ominous detail. One that communicates a stately majesty about Jesus, I think. He’s someone in absolute control of the situation, which is a pretty profound detail given the circumstances.

Judas, Jesus, and Peter. These are three radically different reactions to a crisis situation. Judas has grown profoundly disappointed in Jesus. Judas had a vision of God’s new kingdom. And Jesus was going about it in all the wrong ways. It had reached the point it needed to be stopped.

Peter was all in, 120 percent. He was willing to fight and kill to protect his master. If only he could aim that stupid sword.

But Jesus didn’t need a critic, and he didn’t need a bodyguard. In a garden of bad decisions, stretching all the way back in human history to the ultimate Bad Decision, Jesus makes his own choice.

What about you? What do you see?


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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1 Response to John: Roller coaster

  1. Interesting association between the garden of eden and garden of gethsemane. I like the comparison, one I want to do more research on.

    God Bless!
    Joshua J. Huffman

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