As we enter Easter month, our series from the Gospel of John brings us to chapter 18, one of the grimmest chapters of the Bible. This chapter recounts the betrayal and binding of Jesus. What makes this chapter especially grim is that Jesus’ betrayal and binding take place at the hands of people who should have known better.
Judas Iscariot was Jesus’ own disciple. More than anyone else at that time, the disciples experienced Jesus’ love and saw countless numbers of His miracles. Along with other disciples, Judas preached the gospel of the kingdom. Jesus commissioned him with power to heal the sick and cast out demons. Yet this man who saw and experienced so much of God threw it all away for 30 pieces of silver.
Annas and Caiaphas were relatives. Each served as high priest and headed the powerful Sanhedrin, the assembly of elders. They knew the prophecies concerning a coming Messiah, but they chose to interpret them their own way. Instead of seeing the obvious signs of Jesus’ divine presence in their midst, they chose their own political and religious agendas over the truth of God, corrupting themselves and helping to condemn generations of their people.
Pontius Pilate, the cynical (“What is truth?”) Roman governor of Judea, saw through the jealousy and false accusations of the Jewish religious hierarchy. He found Jesus innocent of any crime, but still gave up Jesus to the mob for crucifixion. Cheap politics paralyzed his ability to do the right thing when it counted.
We look with horror at these villains who should have known better and wonder at how wickedly they tortured and killed the Lord of glory. But we should also examine ourselves for times when we bind Christ in what we do (or don’t do) and say. For example . . .
Do we read the Bible as a religious habit rather than to hear His voice and express more of His light and glory through our lives to a darkened world around us?
Do we secretly judge others for whom Christ died and rose again, acting more like Annas and Caiaphas than our Lord and Savior who died for us?
Do we regard Jesus as something less than Son of God, King of kings, brother and best friend?
Do we deny Christ by behaviors/attitudes that clash with our professions of loyalty to Christ?
Do we tie His hands, through unbelief, from doing His mighty works through us?
Do we fail to trust Him with the issues of our lives, with the lives of those with whom we live and work, and those in places of authority in government and culture?
Do we fail to live the gospel in its fullness, or deny to the world the salt and light that Jesus intended to come through us?
Do we fail to obey Christ when His commands conflict with our understanding and desires?
Thank God that Jesus Christ did not stay bound! After three days, He rose again and destroyed the power of death and every other weapon of Satan. In His boundless love, He has forgiven us and given us His Holy Spirit to help us. Let us confess our sins and thank God for His everlasting love for us in spite of ourselves. Then let us tell everyone how He has taken away our sin and overcome the world.