When it seems bad, it’s still Good.
John 18 verse 4-11
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,”[a] they replied.
“I am he,”[b] 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.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”[c]
10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. 11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
This is such an incredible and dramatic scene in the scriptures. Jesus, Emmanuel (God in flesh), is about to be handed over to be crucified. He is aware that His time has come and when the guard comes to arrest Him led by Judas, He confidently steps forward and makes a declaration that causes the guard to fall over! “I AM”! Jesus is making the same statement that He made to Moses at the burning bush around 1500 years earlier (See exodus 3:14). When Jesus said “I AM”, it not only identified who his person was, this statement also revealed His glory as the Alpha and Omega, the creator, the sustainer and ruler of all the universe. My guess and suggestion is that not only did these 500 guards fall, but all of creation that could hear, responded in some way to Jesus revealing His divine glory. Jesus was not just speaking words, He was revealing power. Jesus was also signifying that He was not actually being arrested, but voluntarily handing Himself over. Although the guards had weapons and numbers, Jesus the messiah was actually the one in charge.
It’s amazing to me that the revelation didn't stick well in their minds even after being knocked down. The guards gather themselves for the arrest and ask again, this time Jesus simply identifies His person without revealing His power. This is proof that you can only find what you're looking for, as these guards are clearly dismissive of the fact that they were knocked down by Jesus' word just moments earlier. Funny enough, they are not the only ones who forget who’s really in charge at the moment. Peter in a fear induced act of desperation, draws his sword and begins an attack against the arresters, wildly slashing off one of their ears. Jesus who is never intimidated or lacking in certainty about His fate reassures Peter that He doesn't need him to fight on God’s behalf. This whole scene of scripture is chaotic and wildly unpredictable. If you or I were to be in the shoes of one of the disciples on scene, we too would feel helpless, confused and probably angry or disappointed by the outcome that unraveled. Maybe we, like the disciple outlined in the book of Mark, would run away ashamed and naked from the conflict. Maybe we would act as Peter did and try to fight foolishly on God’s behalf. Maybe like Judas, we would pretend we no longer identify as a follower of Jesus when it becomes disadvantageous to us. What we do in the heat of crisis and discomfort reveals what we truly have trust in. The stress of uncertainty exposes our hidden securities (Peter his own strengths and weapons, Judas his money and financial security).You and I, like the disciples, quickly forget who is actually in charge when the situation doesn't look like what we would have chosen. We forget at times that God’s perfect leadership will lead us to places where the future seems uncertain or even downright scary. He does this so that circumstances around us can expose the false securities within us. We oftentimes, like the disciples, forget who we are so passionately following when the path He is leading us on doesn't make sense or seem secure anymore. Ironically it’s often during these moments of insecurity and divine chaos, that God transitions us into a new season of His glory being poured out into our lives. For instance, Jesus' arrest led to the cross which led to His and our resurrection in Him. Jesus’s plan for our lives is always perfect, good, and revealing things in us that He is calling us to let go of. Unfortunately because we are so predictably stubborn and hard headed, His pruning is always most effective when we are under pressure. This is why I can confidently say, when things seem bad, In Jesus they are still good. In Jesus' hard situations that don’t make sense, are exposing things in me, transforming me to look more like Him, and leading me to a greater revelation of His glory being poured out in my life.
We get to respond to His leadership in hard situations in one of two ways. We can allow the humanity within us to take control and try to fight, run, or manipulate our way out of the situation. Or, we can respond the way Jesus invited the guard to respond. By beholding and declaring who HE IS! Despite whether we understand or not, when we worship and declare who He is in the midst of trials, we give up the desire to be in control, and anchor our hearts into God's sovereignty. The hard truth is that we don’t need to be in control, or understand the plan, or even like the place we've been led to. We only need to remember and remind ourselves of who He is despite what's happening around us. As we declare who He is despite what we are experiencing, we revoke our privilege to be our own God, and make space for His presence to increase in our lives. Worshiping Him simply because of who He is, causes a divine transaction to occur within us. This transaction is transformational, where we let go of ourselves to become more like Him.