18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them,“Whom are you seeking?”
5 They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am He.”
Today we will explore the question of why it was at this moment that Jesus stepped with purpose into the hands of His enemies knowing full well it would end in death. We clearly saw yesterday that it was His purpose but that does not explain the timing. For over 3 years He has been avoiding the attempts to kill Him but on this night He hands Himself over. Why?
There are many reasons I am sure. We will highlight three of them.
1, It was Passover. Many centuries earlier the children of Israel under the leadership of Moses were about to leave Egypt and slavery behind. Nine plagues had already fallen on Egypt and the tenth was imminent. God had warned everyone that this last plague would leave the firstborn of every family dead unless they took the blood of a Lamb and applied the blood to the door frames of their houses. It sounds gruesome and bizarre but sin is gruesome, like the mass shooting in Colorado yesterday. Evil is increasing and we are powerless to stop it. God offers help in our helplessness and back then He offered the help of the blood of a lamb. Of course the blood did nothing. Rather it was the act of listening and following His instructions that demonstrated who believed Him and who did not. That night every first born in a home marked with the blood of a lamb was safe while in every other home they died including the son of the Pharaoh. From then on every year the people of Israel celebrated the Passover (when death passed over them). Now Jesus, the true Lamb of God hands Himself over to have His blood spilled so that death will pass over everyone who believes.
2, Prophetic timing. In the book of Daniel a time line was laid out for the Messiah. From the command to return from Babylon to rebuild the destroyed city of Jerusalem until the end of the era of the nation of Israel as God's special nation would be 70 weeks, or 490 prophetic days which is 490 years. Then Daniel was shown that in the middle of the final week or 7 years of that prophetic time period the Messiah would be cut off but not for Himself. The prophecy is actually more detailed than that predicting the exact time His public ministry would begin, the time He would die, and the time the nation would fully and finally reject Him ending the 490 year prophecy. All of it happened exactly on schedule. In addition Peter asked Jesus once how often people should be forgiven. Jewish tradition said three times. Peter could see Jesus was far more forgiving and asked if it should be seven times. Jesus replied no but 70 x 7 times. Jesus was saying far more than "you should forgive a lot." What He was actually saying was the extent of my forgiveness is on full display in the prophecy of Daniel. I Am the Lamb of God that takes say the sin of the whole world. My forgiveness is limitless.
3, Jesus was the Light of the world. He came to shine a spot light on the true character of God. For that revelation to not be wasted He needed others to continue His mission of making the Father known before He left. The disciples were those "light bearers" which is why He said to them "You are the light of the world". He could not die until they were ready and as we have seen they only figured out Who He was at the last minute. Had Jesus died before this they would not have been ready and the mission would have ended with no one to carry it forward.
Are there more reasons? For sure. The bottom line is that God knows the end from the beginning and His timing is always perfect and He is always in control. Evil can only stretch so far and last so long. It is all under His watchful eye, calculated to bring an end forever to satan's reign of terror.
As the hymn writer so eloquently and profoundly wrote: Farther along we'll know all about it. Farther along we'll understand why. Cheer up my brother. Live in the Son shine. We'll understand it all by and by.