THE AUTHORITY OF THE KING

Bible Reading: John 18:1-11; Matthew 26:47-56

I have often thought that one of the most remarkable pictures in the New Testament is the way in which Jesus stood and answered those who came to arrest Him.

At all times during His suffering and death Jesus was in full control of Himself. Unless He allowed them to arrest Him, they could never have taken Him. Elsewhere in John’s Gospel, Jesus said about His life, “No man takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again” [John 10:18]. In Matthew’s account of the arrest of Jesus, it is clear that Peter’s use of his sword was totally unnecessary as Jesus said, “Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” Seventy-two thousand angels would have come to His rescue! Imagine the power that they would have, if one angel once killed 185,000 Assyrian troops who were threatening Jerusalem [2 Kings 19:35].

The religious leaders must have thought that Jesus was very dangerous. They sent a whole detachment of troops with their weapons to arrest Him! Jesus knew why they came and yet asked them, “Whom are you seeking?” [v.4]. When they said, “Jesus of Nazareth” He responded, “I am He” [v.5], and they drew back and fell to the ground! In the presence of the King, these godless men, not expecting His authority, fell to the ground.

We should not be surprised if someone crumples to the floor in the presence of God. It happened many times in the Bible. Abram fell to ground when God spoke to him [Genesis 17:3]. Joshua fell to the ground in the presence of God [Joshua 5:14,15]. Ezekiel fell on his face when he saw the glory of the Lord [Ezekiel 3:23]. Daniel was afraid and fell on his face [Daniel 8:17; 10:15]. Three of Jesus’ disciples fell on their faces when God’s glory was manifested to them [Matthew 17:6]. Paul fell to the ground when he met the glorified Christ [Acts 9:4 & 26:14]. Similarly, John fell at the feet Jesus when He appeared to him on the Isle of Patmos [Revelation 1:17].

I have heard people say that when people fall to the ground it is just an emotional or psychological experience. There are times when that might be the case, but sometimes in the presence of God people are simply unable to remain standing, and often in those times God is doing a supernatural work, even spiritual surgery, in a person’s heart. One day every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!

Questions:

Why is it important that we are not judgmental but instead have a discerning spirit when unusual things happen in the presence of God?

Why do you think that those who came to arrest Jesus could not remain standing as He responded to their coming?

Read Luke 10:19. What does it mean that Christ has given us His authority?

THE PROPHETIC ALWAYS SEE THE POTENTIAL

Bible Reading: John 18:1-11, 15-18, 25-27; Matthew 16:13-19, 21-23

In John chapter eighteen we see the two sides of Simon Peter. One minute he is fiercely defending Jesus, cutting off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Him, and shortly afterwards he is fervently denying Jesus three times.

That was not the first time that Peter did or said the right thing and then moments later did the very opposite and was rebuked by Jesus. A similar incident was recorded in Matthew chapter sixteen. Peter declared that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God [Matthew 16:16] but moments later declared that he would never let Jesus die [Matthew 16:22]. One minute Peter was speaking out a revelation that the Father had given him, and the next it was Satan speaking through him, and Jesus had to say, “Get thee behind me, Satan” [Matthew 16:23].

That summed up Simon Peter. He was impulsive and inconsistent. Why did Jesus choose such a man to be His disciple? It is unlikely that Peter would find such a position of trust in today’s society [or even today’s church], and if he did he would make life difficult for those over him. But Jesus knew what He was doing when He chose Simon Peter. He saw the potential in him. The prophetic always looks beyond the present to the potential in a person. Over the years the most gifted people who I thought would be most successful, often most disappointed me. Conversely, the people that I thought were least likely to succeed often became the greatest achievers.

Simon Peter must have tested the patience of Jesus, but Jesus never gave up on him. I am so glad today that He never gave up on me too! At one point Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail” [Luke 22:32]. Jesus was praying for this inconsistent and impulsive man. Here is a Kingdom principle. God takes the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are [1 Corinthians 1:27-29]. History is littered with the stories of God using the most unlikely of people.

Now see Peter on the Day of Pentecost. Filled with the Holy Spirit he preaches and three thousand people come to Christ. God can change an inconsistent and impulsive man and make a mighty man of God out of him.

This did not mean that Peter was now perfect. He was still a work in progress. He would still struggle with the idea of Gentiles coming to Christ, and even be wrongly swayed by the opinion of others, but if you want to see how deep God worked in Peter’s life, read his two epistles, and realize that he was just a fisherman in whom the Holy Spirit had worked mightily.

Questions:

Why do you think that God often chooses weak and insignificant people to do His work and become a great blessing to others?

Why was it important that Jesus was patient with Peter? How does that relate to the people that you have to work alongside?

What were the keys to the remarkable change that took place in Peter’s life?