Sometimes, when we read the story of Scripture, we get caught up in the drama. We see events come to pass, and we feel the unfairness of it all. We bemoan the fact that wrongs are done, that corners are cut, and that evil things happen.
Reading through John’s account of the life of Jesus, I find myself reminded that Jesus did not have the cross happen to him. The Lord Jesus shaped his life and his actions to very intentionally go to Jerusalem and to the cross. Yes, he was treated wrongly. Yes, the Jews broke any number of their own laws to try him and send him to Pilate. Yes, Pilate pronounced Jesus not guilty on several occasions. But the Savior was in charge and he was not going to fail to get to the cross.
Consider this scene at Jesus’ arrest. Was the Savior taken advantage of? Or was the Savior in total control? Did the scheme of Judas catch Jesus? Or did Jesus do exactly what he had planned all along?
John 18:4-8 – 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.”
Jesus, on the night of his arrest, already knew Judas intended to betray him. So what did Jesus do? He went to a garden that Judas knew well. He did not hide. And Jesus waited there until Judas and the soldiers arrived.
When the soldiers arrived, how would they identify Jesus? It was dark. There were at least 12 men in the garden, Jesus and 11 disciples. Judas had worked out a secret, sneaky signal. He would go up and greet his master with a kiss on the cheek as was common in that culture. But what does Jesus do? He walks forward, does not wait for Judas to kiss him, and he asks the soldiers whom they seek.
When the soldiers say they seek Jesus, he could have said all sorts of things. He could have said, “You know, Jesus was just in Jerusalem a little bit ago. Hurry that way and you might catch him.” Jesus could have tried to hide. But Jesus did not use any sort of subterfuge. Instead, Jesus boldly identified himself.
But Jesus more than identified himself. He used the “I Am” that points to his own deity. And when those words came from Jesus’ lips, the entire group of soldiers fell to the ground. Jesus showed that he was totally in control. He could flatten that group of armed men with a word and simply walk away.
But what did Jesus do? He asked the question again, insured his disciples could walk away, and went with the soldiers to the mockery of a trial that he was soon to face.
The point is that Jesus very intentionally went to the cross. He knew that his mission on earth was to go to Jerusalem, suffer, die, and then rise from the grave. Jesus went to the cross because he was born to go to the cross. He was born to be the perfect sacrifice for all of the sins that God would ever forgive. Jesus came for that purpose, and he would not let anything stand in his way.