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Do not be afraid ...

Text: John 18: 1-11

Text verse: John 18: 8

It is striking that Jesus asks three times who they are looking for. After the first time He says, “It is I!”, the soldiers were struck with muteness and it is mentioned that Judas was also among the soldiers.

After the second time Jesus answers “It is I!”, it is mentioned that the soldiers retreated and fell to the ground in fear.

The third time Jesus answers “It is I!”, He commands them to let His disciples go.

Jesus’ motive for this conversation becomes clear in verse 9 when He says: This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” (also see 6:39; 10:28; 17:12). In the passages mentioned it was about the disciples’ gaining eternal life.

We are reminded that Jesus knew that at that stage of the disciples’ life of faith, it would be too much if they were caught with Him; they may even be killed. That is why Jesus asks three times who they are looking for and acts with so much authority that the soldiers tremble in fear. Jesus made sure that his disciples were not tested beyond their power.

Trials and temptations are inevitable. We know how bad it is for us to see someone suffer or when a loved one dies. It’s trials like these that bring one’s life to a standstill.

These trials are also often difficult to accept and there is often a lot to process. The result is that we respond like Peter. We cut with the sword. We try to get out of the situation on our own, often only aggravating the problem or situation.

This section shows us what happens behind the scenes. Like Peter, we may still be blind to it, but this passage teaches us two important things.

1. We are not tested beyond our means.

Jesus knows the hearts of his disciples well. He knows their abilities. He knows what they are capable of and because He loves them, He protects them so that no one will be lost. Paul describes it beautifully when He says: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

We are all weak and vulnerable, but we have a mediator who keeps us safe.

2. Jesus is in control

Even before the disciples realise the full extent of the situation, Jesus is already defusing the situation. He is already looking after them. This becomes especially clear when Jesus, after cutting off the slave’s ear, asks Peter, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11).

With this, Jesus declares his willingness to submit Himself to this suffering. Suffering we were supposed to go through. He went through apostasy on our behalf so that we never have to be forsaken by God.

Every ordeal can now remind us that we are not alone. Jesus is in control. Not even a hair will fall from our head if it is not his will (also see Luke 21:18).

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