Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Year: John 16-18 for Nov 14

By John 18 the hour that Jesus had said would come finally does come (17:1), and chapters 16-18 all show how these events take a second seat to the people.

All of them, from the highest officials such as the high priest and the governor, to slaves (18:10) and door-keepers (18:16-17), act as they choose to, yet according to providence, and the events are all providentially governed by God.

For example, the disciples whom He prays for regarding the their protection and priveleges throughout John 14-17, are freed from being arrested with Jesus (cf. 12:10) by prophecy and a single word by Jesus (18:8-9). Peter, whose behavior in the garden could easily get him arrested too (18:10), evidently at that point didn't want to be freed to go his way (18:8, 10), yet his own denials, predicted just earlier (13:38), serve the goals of 18:8-9.

Human nature in its evil is depicted very directly. Annas tries to assert himself by getting Jesus to give an account of disciples and teaching (18:19)! Annas wasn't looking for information, which Jesus points out he could get from others (18:21). Perhaps the assertion of his authority?

In the case of the "officers of the Jews" (18:12), they say they want Pilate to execute Jesus. Why? It may be just because they want to control the fate of whoever is an "evildoer" (18:30).

We readers are left shaking our heads that they want to kill the Innocent Man, yet they don't want to be ceremonially unclean for the passover (18:28). Therefore their own religious scruples hinder their plans for evil.

But Pilate doesn't miss his chance to show his colors. Pilate mocks them by toying with them, twice, mocking their religion-based antagonism (18:29-31a), then saying he "finds" no guilt (18:38). That's the official language of innocence, but Pilate's scheming comes forth: in calling Jesus "King of the Jews" (18:39), derisively, not intending to release him at that point, and having just heard from Jesus Himself that His kingdom is not of this world (18:36), Pilate puts his admitted scoffing at "truth" (19:38) at the service of what he knows: power politics.

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