John 18:1-4 (Living)
18 After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. 3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said, “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 “I told you that I am He,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.”
What an interesting picture this paints!
- Jesus was faced with great challenge and disappointment
- It was a new season of His time on earth, often referred to as “the passion”
- But He steps forward to it and takes it head on!
As I think about it though, I suppose there were several other options that could have unfolded.
Jesus could have tried to run as soon as they came and started a big chase through the park.
Jesus could have said: “Who are you after?” Then, when he heard his name, he could have turned to Peter and said “Can you please handle this one? Tell them I am busy or unavailable.”
Jesus could have been angry and disappointed and pre-empted what they wanted and gone in all hurt and offended.
- “I know what you want. You mongrel! I don’t deserve this. I didn’t ask for this!”
Jesus could have tried to negotiate around it and say:
- “Is that really who you want? I think the bigger issue is Herod. He is out killing people, and what about Caesar? That guy is not democratic!”
He doesn’t do any of those!
- He knew the pain, the frustration, the hurt, the challenge, the journey, the problems, the everything and still marched up confidently and said, “Who do you want?”
I think for 2021 we need a new and fresh level of boldness to march up to it and demand “Who do you want! I am here! Good to meet you 2021! No, don’t go after them, don’t dodge me, I am here. Bring it on!
Now there are a couple of angles on this because we might say “But Jesus knew what would happen”.
And I would say here, there is a very slim chance we will be:
- getting so distressed we would sweat blood
- be betrayed and abandoned by our best friends
- 40 lashes
- severely beaten
- our beard ripped out
- and crucified this year
If Jesus, knowing that would happen, could still say “What’s up, I’m your man!”, then how much more confident should we be knowing that won’t happen to us!
Sometimes Christianity is called a crutch for the weak, but if you ask me it takes hardcore courage to face the future and refuse to allow fear to rule.
That’s why in the first chapter of Joshua, who is stepping into the unknown, God says four times in a row:
- Be strong and courageous!
- Joshua had battles ahead
- He had betrayal and challenge
- He had situations that would require a miracle
Joshua had the unknown, so God’s advice wasn’t to freak out, worry or stay safe. It was be strong and courageous!
We don’t know what will happen, but can I encourage you, be strong and courageous!
Don’t dodge 2021, don’t wait and see, don’t expect the worst and definitely don’t fear it or worry about it!
Choose to march forward and say “Good to meet you 2021. How can I help!” Only then did they come at Him!
So, don’t go looking for Judas, or worrying about him. Enjoy the journey and when he does come, man up and say “I am here! Bring it on.”
The other consideration for this passage is yes, Jesus knew what would happen and I can already hear people saying. “Yes, but I am a need-to-know person!”
And so, for all of us, but particularly those who need to know, let me tell you a few things that will happen this year!
We might not know the details, but if we are willing to look big enough, we can be certain of many things.
Here’s what will happen:
- God will still be in charge and still sits on the throne
- People will still find the love of God and meet Jesus
- God’s promises will keep moving forward
- The devil and his best efforts will not change God’s Word or Promises
- No weapon formed against us shall prosper
- God will still bless His people
- God will provide and watch over us
- God will always be there with us
- The Holy Spirit will move and flow
- God’s presence will still bring life, joy, hope and courage
- God’s Kingdom will advance
- The Church will grow, take ground and move forward
- Faith in Jesus will bring miracles
- Heaven is still sure for those who believe in Jesus Christ
- God still has plans for good to give us a future and a hope
- No weapon formed against us will prosper
- We are the head and not the tail
- The joy of the Lord will still be our strength
We might not know some of the physical, earthly details, but the Bible can fill you in on some of what will take place this year.
Romans 8:18-39 (NIV)
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
(I know some people think the world is the worst ever, but Paul thought that 2000 years ago. Earth and life suffer sometimes – welcome to the club)
19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
(The world is waiting for us to step up to the plate)
20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope
(Not that we would cave in, shy away, give up, complain, worry or fear – but)
21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
(To show God’s glory.)
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
(We don’t have to have it all together, but we must believe God for courage and to step up to the plate)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
(God’s plan for you this year is to be glorified! To make glorious, to honour, to magnify!! People live like God wants them to grovel around like worms when God is saying stand up, I am here to raise people up Isaiah 45)
More than conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things?
(Covid, Governments, challenges, stuff that comes flying from left of field)
If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?
It is God who justifies.34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
(2020 doesn’t sound so bad compared to that)
36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long: we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So, we do know what 2021 has! And we can trust God’s Word!
- It’s a year with some unknown challenges ahead
- It’s a year to step up to the plate
- It’s a year to show God’s glory
- A year God’s strength will fill the gaps of our weakness
- A year for you to be glorified, honoured and magnified
- It’s a year where you are more than a conqueror through Christ who loved you!
Good to meet you 2021!
Too many people have let fear in, worry in, their heart grow faint, but God’s call to you today is – be strong and courageous!
Let’s make this year count and meet it ready for God to do wonders!
Suggestions for discussion
- Discuss how you can meet 2021 with a new positive approach.
- Can you determine to be strong and courageous to fight any battles that may come your way in 2021?
- Are you ready to make 2021 count and meet it ready for God to do wonders in your life?