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John56 – force and forces

So the cohort and the lead-over-a-thousand and the officials of the Judeans took over Jesus and tied him up, and they brought first to Annas, because he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was lead priest that year. In fact Caiaphas was the one having advised the Judeans that it profits one man to die on behalf of the community. (John 18: 12)
In John’s eye-witness first century AD biography of Jesus we’ve reached the early-morning, pre-dawn garden of Gethsemane at Passover (Easter) AD 30. The parties participating in the arrest of Jesus take him to Annas, a former chief priest, whose son-in-law now had that position. A hint of nepotism?

We’ve already met Caiaphas – John37 in this series. This highly-rational man had gladly pointed out to his colleagues what he had seen but they had not: “It profits you that one man may die on behalf of the people, and that the complete nation may not self-destroy.” Little did Caiaphas know that his words were transcendingly true – Jesus died in the place of those who would come to him for forgiveness and adoption into his eternal family.

In fact Simon Peter was following Jesus - and another disciple. That disciple was in fact known to the lead priest, and entered together with Jesus into the fold of the lead priest. In fact Peter had stood at the door outside. So the other disciple, the one known to the lead priest, came out and said to the doorkeeper and brought in Peter.                

This simultaneous event shows two of Jesus’ disciples watching what is going to happen to him. One is already ‘in’ with the authorities; he brings ‘in’ the other one, Simon Peter. But being ‘in’ has its price. Simon Peter won’t pay it.

So the maidservant, the doorkeeper, states to Peter, “You are not also from the disciples of this man?” That one states, “I am not.” In fact the slaves and the officials were standing, having made a coal fire because  it was cold, and they were warming themselves and Peter in fact was stood with them and warming himself. 

In that cold place the only warmth is a coal fire with each individual warming himself and not others – despite appearing to stand together as one. Jesus’ death is intended to change that – for ever.

So the lead priest asked Jesus concerning his disciples and concerning his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in a synagogue and in the temple where all the Judeans - everyone - come together, and I spoke nothing in secret. Why ask me? Ask those having heard what I spoke to them! Look! These have discerned what I myself said.” 

Annas is, in every way, the power behind the chief priestly throne. He questions Jesus. Jesus asks why – because in no way could Jesus’ answers to any questions be valid if he was only worthy of arrest, torture and death. By questioning Jesus, Annas reveals his own conviction about who Jesus is. How awful for him when Jesus points this out.

In fact, he himself having said these things, one of the standing officials gave a blow to Jesus, saying, “In that way do you answer the lead priest?” Jesus answered him, “If I spoke wrong things, testify concerning the wrong! If in fact rightly, why are you striking me?” So Annas sent him out, tied up, towards Caiaphas the chief priest.  

The official has perceived the startling exposure of Annas. He responds with violent force towards Jesus, putting into action the intangible attitude of Annas, his boss, towards Jesus. 

Jesus’ appeal is to right and wrong alone. Annas is in disarray, but forces (are permitted to) remain in his hands. Jesus in not the only one “tied up”.

Simon Peter in fact was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You yourself are not also from his disciples?” That one himself denied and said, “I am not.” One from the slaves of the lead priest, being related to the one the ear of whom Peter cut off, states, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” So Peter himself denied again, and immediately a rooster called. 

“Standing and being warmed”? This leads to double denial, making three in all – exactly as predicted by Jesus – see John45 in this series. Peter has destroyed himself in his own eyes. Will he ever know forgiveness?

The “slave” who procured Peter’s final denial that he was a follower of Jesus was a relative of the man whose ear Peter can sliced off a few hours earlier. Followers of Jesus do awful things. Does Jesus the judge want to forgive those who, even in his name, wrongly use force? 

Sinner Syvret

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