(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: John Ch. 18 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(vv. 1-11) Previously in chapter 13, Jesus had prophesied about two disciples: one was Judas who wanted to betray him, and the other was Peter who denied him. In this chapter 18, we see that Jesus fulfilled both prophesies. Although there are five chapters between the accounts of the two prophesies (chapter 13 and chapter 18), both events were actually happening on the same night.
When Jesus and his disciples entered the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas led a group of soldiers, as well as the officers of the chief priests and Pharisees, to arrest Jesus. According to the size of the legion at that time, more than a hundred people may have appeared before Jesus with lanterns, torches, and weapons in their hands. As a result, these menacing people actually backed down and fell to the ground after Jesus replied, “I am he!” In that dark night, Jesus was the one with true authority.
Recall that Jesus said, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” (John 12:27-28) Now, when he saw Peter struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear, Jesus touched his ear and healed him (Luke 22:51). And he said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11) We see that after Jesus obeyed God’s will, the peace and strength he possessed in his heart was enough to allow Jesus to calmly face the forces of evil.
Brothers and sisters, if we are willing to obey the will of our heavenly Father, He will give us the courage and confidence to overcome fear and the power of darkness!
(vv. 12-27) The Gospel of John is different from the three synoptic gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The book of John actually recorded Annas’ initial inquisition of Jesus. In addition, the Gospel of John recorded that Annas escorted Jesus to Caiaphas (John 18:24) and from Caiaphas to Pilate (John 18:28). In contrast, the three synoptic gospels only recorded Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas.
Caiaphas was the high priest that year and his father-in-law was Annas (John 18:13). Annas also served as the high priest prior to Caiaphas taking on that title (Luke 3:2). Although the Roman government dismissed Annas, the Jews still regarded him as the true high priest. The office of the high priest was originally life-long, but the governor of Rome destroyed this system after subjecting the Jews to their rule.
Compared with Jesus’ “I am he”, Peter’s “I am not” (John 18:17, 18:25-26) became a clear contrast. We ask ourselves, after believing that Jesus’ declaration “I am he” is the truth, when and under what circumstances will often make us anxious and subsequently, deny our identity as Christians – like Peter blurting out, “I am not!” Remember Jesus’ words, “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33) We pray that next time, at the same time and occasion, we can take out our courage and confidence to recognize our identity as Christians!
(vv. 28-40) In front of Pilate, the governor of Rome, Jesus said three times that he has a kingdom, but he also emphasized that his kingdom is not of this world. Jesus’ kingdom has the laws of God’s kingdom, the kingdom method of expansion and the kingdom conditions for becoming a citizen of the kingdom of God. It was different from the Roman regime at that time and from any country, government, land, and sovereignty in the world today. Since the kingdom of Jesus does not belong to this world, Jesus does not need his servants to fight to prevent his arrest. His asking Peter to put his sword away is the best proof.
When Jesus was asked by Pilate again, “So, you are a king?” Jesus said, “You say that I am a king…” It means ‘you say I am a king, what you say is true!’ In addition, remember when Jesus was asked in front of the high priest and the Sanhedrin of this question, “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63-64), Jesus also replied in the same way: “You have said so.”
Jesus is indeed the Son of God and the King, but He did not come to establish political power and kingship on earth, nor to establish a kingdom in the world and to use religious power to interfere with the Roman government at that time. He came to build a higher kingdom and was in charge of the heavenly kingship. What He wanted the world to understand is that his opponent was not the earthly Caesar. The real enemy he wants to defeat was Satan. He did not come to save the Jews from the control of the Roman government, but to save the world from Satan, and asked everyone to repent and turn to God. Because of Jesus, people entered the kingdom of God and became his people!
Only when we recognize our true identity; the king to whom we belong and the mission to be carried out, will we not fail the life and blood shed by Jesus on the cross. We should ask ourselves: Do I belong to the World, or to God?
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)