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. (John 18:4–5, NIV 1984).
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:10-11, NIV 1984).
Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:33–36, NIV 1984).
My Musings – It was a bit of a Christian fad a few years back to ask “what would Jesus do?” There was even a plethora of bumper stickers, coffee mugs, tee shirts and bracelets with the letters “WWJD?” Many have either forgotten this question or only ask it rhetorically rather than instructionally without actually intending to do what Jesus would do.
But the above verses are very instructional. Jesus knew ALL that was going to happen to Him. He did not need Peter’s meager attempt at resistance. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:52–53, NIV 1984). Truth be told, He would not have even needed the angels if His intention was to resist.
But He had no intention of resisting. He may have had the desire, but not the intent. “He began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘Stay here and keep watch.’ Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ ” (Mark 14:33–36, NIV 1984). Because it was not possible any other way, He bowed to the Father’s will. Incidentally, this answers a common objection to Christianity today. That it is elitist to claim there is no other way. If there were, we would be reading about twelve legion of angels. Yet He consented to His arrest, trial and execution. “Even death on a cross!” The way of the cross is the only way. Through Jesus or not at all.
My Advice – So, what would Jesus do? “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” The world is coming full circle back to the first century where persecution was the norm. The Western world is not quite there yet, but it has begun. Right now it is predominantly verbal. Some subtle, some no so subtle. You see it on social media all the time. You see it in movies and television shows. You see in in schools and Universities. You see it in the halls of Congress.
So what should Christians do? Fight back to reclaim our religious rights in this worldly kingdom? Fight vitriol for vitriol? Violence for violence? Give as good as we get? Well, if this is the kingdom you want to fight for, I guess then that the answer would be yes. Or is your “kingdom is from another place.” We don’t have to ask what Jesus would do. We know what He did not do. Even “knowing all that was going to happen to him.”
So, “dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Peter 4:12–14, NIV 1984).
So what should we do? Fight back for this kingdom or rejoice in the coming Kingdom? What did Jesus do? Instructional or rhetorical. You decide.
Inspired by Dale Johnson’s Adult Bible Fellowship class at First Baptist Church of Sycamore, Illinois. Come join us if you are in the area. We meet every Sunday at 9:00 a.m. But don’t come expecting rhetoric. Come expecting instruction.