With God, nothing is impossible; and things aren't always what they seem.
John 18:1-12, 19:10-19
as told by Deborah Beach Giordano
After Jesus had prayed for his disciples, he went with them across the Kidron valley to a garden, and they went inside.
Judas, who betrayed him, knowing that Jesus and his disciples routinely met there, led a detachment of soldiers and their commander along with officers from the religious authorities — carrying lanterns and torches, and armed with weapons.
Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom do you seek?"
They answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus replied, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.
When Jesus said to them, "I am he," they stepped back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, “Whom do you seek?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."
Jesus answered, "I told you that I am he. So if you are seeking me, let these men go."
This was to fulfill his words: "I did not lose a single one of those whom You gave me."
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Then the soldiers, their commander, and the Jewish officers arrested Jesus and bound him.
Pilate therefore said to him, "Do you refuse to speak to me? Don't you know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?"
Jesus answered him, "You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
Wishing to wash his hands of the whole affair, Pilate wanted to release him, but the chief priests insisted, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the Emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the Emperor.” That was sufficient; Pilate was not going to risk the wrath of Caesar, so he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge's bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha.
It was the day of Preparation for the Passover; around noon. He said to the Jews, "Here is your King!” They shouted, "Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!" Pilate asked, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but the emperor.”
Then he handed him over to be crucified. So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.
There they crucified him with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.
It begins in the garden where Jesus and his disciples walk in the cool of the evening; a sweet sanctuary from the harsh and arid land around it.
Soft moonlight filters through leaves of the low-bowing trees, roses drop their petals into a flowing fountain, lavender and sage cluster around its base; the air is filled with their mingled fragrance.
Nightbirds rustle in the branches, watchful, silent;
a fox glides past with a cautious, sidelong glance;
he does not stop.
A splash of red at the Lord’s feet,
bright as a drop of blood;
a poppy, unopened, waiting,
its time has not yet come to burst into bloom.
The world waits.
All is at peace, all is calm.
A crash and a crushing crowd
roaring, commanding, demanding,
torches raised, blinking, squinting,
Where is the Lord?
The roosting birds flutter and fly
confused, flailing, frightened,
Where is the Lord?
The air is stilled by a soft reply,
it takes the breath away;
the balance shifted,
the crowd stumbles, falls,
stands again, unsteady, uncertain;
The world waits.
A blade flashes, a shout, a struggle,
torches wave and clubs are raised;
the scent of blood,
the thrill of violence,
arms at ready.
Lay down your weapons!
The voice speaks,
Be still and know!
I AM the Son of the Father.
I AM now and eternally;
claiming the Cup
His faithful love.
The soldiers march in formation
into the darkness
thinking they have a prisoner
but it is they who are captive —
captive to the Empire,
captive to the cult of Lord Caesar,
whose whims and wants
are their command;
And Jesus, the Christ,
the true Lord,
whose kingdom has no end
walks at their head
to certain condemnation
to death on the cross.
It would seem to be the end;
This is only the beginning!
A new beginning comes
out of the darkness into the Light.
He is risen indeed!
Rejoice and be glad, for the Lord Christ has come to lead us away from darkness into the Way, the Truth, and the Life of confident joy and peace.