As I read through John 18:8-9 this morning I was once again reminded of how much Jesus is my Protector. He is GOD and GOD is my Father. At a moment of high vulnerability and a need for protection, He did not flinch. In fact, He was so internally peacefully that he inserted selfless words of protection:
2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (KJV, emphasis added)
Jesus’ life was on the line and he was being betrayed by one of His closest disciples. In fact, Judas knew where to find Jesus because they went there together all of the time. As a minister and pastor I know this feeling all too well; you give your all to help others and the end result is betrayal.
We all have experienced this on some level regardless of our profession. The pain of helping another only to be thanked by heartless actions or coldness can seem unbearable. But Jesus showed us how to conduct ourselves gracefully under such duress.
He did not retaliate, respond in surprised anger nor rebuke Judas. He knowingly yielded to the painful will of GOD remembering that no one could do anything to Him except GOD first allowed. It was because He was clear on His identity and purpose that He did not flinch. Jesus depended on the Sovereignty of GOD at a time He could have been easily distracted by the lower actions of mankind.
He also selflessly considered His role as protector of the ones GOD gave Him:
He said, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way.”
Then the Scriptures reveal the heart of why He wanted to protect the disciples, “…that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.” Jesus was literally giving His life to be killed on our behalf, but He never lifted a hand to protect His self. He never thought of His own needs selfishly. Instead, He was thinking of our need for protection and His responsibility to keep those GOD gave Him.
This truth deeply resounds with me as I think about all the times I have tried to emotionally and even, at times, physically protect myself out of fear that I would be hurt by a violator. This violator could come in the form of a friend or an enemy, a harmless comment twisted to appear emotionally tearing. But it is never my role to protect myself; Jesus is the greatest example of selfless trust I have ever encountered. I imagine being alone in the knowledge of my coming death, feeling vulnerable, denying myself of more than 33 years of life, yet continuing to teach, watch over and help the disciples. This is an insurmountable thought.
Jesus did not lose one. His interest was set on keeping His disciples from harm and He spoke up for them when physical harm was imminent. When we are not to be touched, His protective Word keeps us unharmed. We can depend on His caring willingness to go to the cross ensuring our freedom. If there is ever a time we must endure hardship or persecution because of what we believe, this is not due to a lack of protection. It is because we have been chosen to be a representative for Him.
In this passage, the protective nature of Jesus is revealed, yet He does it by the Spirit, not in the flesh. Peter, on the other hand, attempts to protect His Savior and his peers by the sword. He literally whips out the sword in his hand to defend his self. This is not the way of Christ. I have seen a little bit of Peter arise in my heart throughout my life. We probably all have. But it is important for us to learn the lesson we see in Jesus. He was able to peacefully protect, without fear or flesh because of His consistent encounters with His Father.
I believe that as we know the Father, we become less and less afraid of physical harm. We know that the reality is, no matter how we are feeling, what people say or do to us, He is with us, loving and protecting us. There is nothing they can do to us unless He allows it and if He allows it, He will empower us with the grace to go through it; then we will come out stronger.
Maybe there’s an area in your life that, like Peter, you have found yourself trying to protect. Jesus is standing right next to you fully equipped to cover you, but you have a sword in your hand, drawn and ready to strike. Will you give GOD your sword today and ask Him to help you embrace His will? Will you trust Him to help you accept His timing and method of protecting you? Will you ask Him to show you times when He felt unprotected or vulnerable as well?
Let’s pray together that we will grow in understanding and emotional connection of our sonship in GOD. Then we will no longer feel like we need to draw the sword of Peter:
Father, we know that You alone can really protect us. And we know that we are creating a world of hurt when we draw the sword outside of Your timing. Instead, help us to remain silent, to trust that You will heal us, You will help and there is nothing that we can’t go through when You’re near. Reveal the greatness of Your love towards us and the closeness of Your presence. You are Emmanuel, GOD with us. And You will never leave us alone. Cause strengthening and renewal in Your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Scripture for Meditation: Psalm 91
You who sit down in the High God’s Presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “GOD, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right- he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you- under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing- not wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because GOD’s your refuge, the High GOD your very own home, evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and serpents from the path.
“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says GOD, “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party. I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!” (MSG)
Here’s a Recent Pic of me in a Restful Environment; Praying for Your Continued Rest as you Trust in His Protection: