Before Good Friday. Before Easter.
It starts with a sentence in John 18:
When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground
Well they should fall to the ground – he’s God in a body on earth. You ought to have some kind of awesome reaction.
But he’s been God in a body on earth for years, and most people do not draw back and fall to the ground in his presence. Plus, these guys obviously do not believe this is God – they’re here to arrest him!
Look for the unlikely signs around you
And as soon as the falling to the ground is over, they get right back up and go about their arresting business, as if nothing happened. So this isn’t worship – you don’t worship one second and arrest the thing you’re worshipping the next.
It’s as if the falling down is involuntary. Like it isn’t their own reaction. Like it’s imposed on them from the outside.
This comes at a huge moment. It’s where Jesus goes from coming and going on his own to being under the total control of his opponents. No more escaping and slipping through their hands like he’s been doing for years. Now he’ll be theirs and they’re going to pour hatred and anger all over him and get rid of him. And this is the moment that’s the beginning of that.
There’s another angle on this, though. At the same time this human drama is going on, another one, a bigger one, is happening using the same events.
Look for the big picture
God has his own business he’s up to. He’s going to bring to climax all of history up to this point and demonstrate his justice and mercy and love. He’s going to pay for every sin committed by every human being who has lived or will ever live – billions and billions of people and all their sins. How heavy is that? Far heavier than the hatred and anger of the people doing the arresting. It’s a holy, awesome, righteous, mighty, unspeakable work. And this arrest is the beginning of that.
And so the official crowd of soldiers and religious leaders comes face to face with the God-man on earth who is going to accomplish this majestic, heroic deed that they don’t have a clue about. And at the moment he’s pointed out as the one who’s to do it, identifying himself using a phrase signifying his eternal deity, they all draw back and fall to the ground.
For a moment, involuntarily, they all react to who he is and what he’s about to do with his death and resurrection. It’s a supernaturally imposed reaction. Like someone or something knocks them down.
Look for the unlikely moment that shows God is still in charge
It’s the moment when God shows us he’s in control of all of this. What is coming is not just outraged hate having its way. The arrest and falling down are not opposites. It’s all part of the same thing. God is as in control of the arrest and killing as he is in the falling down reaction. The falling down proves it. It’s like God is saying:
I’m here and I could change all this as easy as I knocked all those guys down, but since I don’t then you know that even though this looks bad, it’s all me and under my authority.
He’s in the same place he’s in when other horrible things seem to take over. Right there. In the middle of your worst day.
Noticed any unlikely moments recently?