Today’s Reading: John 18:1-24 (additional reading: Psalm 119:97-112 & Proverbs 16:8-9)
Young people often believe themselves masters of their own fate, able to manipulate situations to obtain the results they desire, regardless of the “fell clutch of circumstance.” Most of us, however, eventually realize that we have less control than we wish. The educational opportunities we have, the place and parents to whom we are born, the way we were raised, even the colour of our skin – these affect greatly the choices we are presented with and the outcomes which are possible.
However the Bible shows Jesus’ intentionally directing of every circumstance to yield his perfect purpose. Far from being crushed by the wheel of history, he exhibits absolute control over the unfolding of providence. Here is the one man who truly was “master of his fate and captain of his soul.” And as the master, he governs all things to bring God’s salvation for all who believe.
Judas’ betrayal was no surprise. Earlier in the evening, Jesus reminded his men that Psalm 41.9 predicted these events centuries before: the friend of Messiah would eat bread with him and then betray him.
So when Jesus walks into the garden, he says by his actions, I will take the punishment for my people. Just as life began in a garden, so now Jesus gives up his life in a garden. But where Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, Christ overcomes sin in the garden of Gethsemane, by absorbing its just punishment and putting an end to its power.
Two things to especially notice. First, Jesus fully controls these events. He is not crushed by the wheel of history; he crushes the history which had always been, and replaces it with a new history for the all who will come to him by faith. No longer must your sin separate you from God forever; he walks to the cross in order to bring near those who were once far off.
Second, notice the assurance and comfort which this action creates. Because Jesus’ death is not accidental or unintended, we know that God’s plan for his people is for good and blessing. It is an argument from the greater to the lesser. God has already done the great thing – he established a way of salvation; and then, since none could be found to fulfil it, he did it himself. Now since he has done the great thing, we can trust him for the lesser things.
Yes, life is full of pain and suffering. But when compared to what Christ Jesus guaranteed by entering the Garden of Gethsemane, there is no comparison.