John at the Cross
Editor’s note: Today we continue our Lenten series of reflections by Nancy Jo Sullivan and Jane Kise. With “We Can Only Imagine: Inspiration for Your Lenten Journey”, we hope you will be inspired, moved and uplifted as you journey towards Holy Week and Easter. LMH
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Jesus was honest with his disciples. He told them that they would have trouble. Even at the last supper he foretold the challenges they would face: “This night, all of you will have your faith in me shaken” (Matthew 26:31)
Within a few hours, Jesus was arrested and marched toward a trial at the home of Annas, the high priest. Only Peter and one other disciple followed. The rest scattered in fear. Perhaps the other disciple was John. Later, he was the only disciple at the foot of the cross…
The inner courtyard was lit by a charcoal fire. John crouched against a stone wall in the darkness, far from the fire. On this night, he did not want to be seen here at the home of Annas, the high priest. Simply being in this courtyard was risky. But at least I’m here with Jesus, he told himself. Just he and Peter. The rest of the disciples had scattered when Jesus was arrested. Had an hour or all of eternity passed since the soldiers surrounded them in the garden?
A cold wind seeped through John’s robe. From where he stood, he could see Peter warming his hands over the fire. Though guards and servants encircled Peter, all of them shivering, no one seemed to recognize Johns’ friend, at least not yet.
He strained his neck to catch a glimpse of Jesus as the high priest interrogated him, but too many officials surrounded the Messiah. The brightly-colored robes of Annas and the other officials seemed to glow in the light of the fire.
“Jesus, you’re accused of teaching heresies in secret,” Annas shouted. “How do you answer to these charges?”
“I taught openly in the temples and synagogues. Ask those who heard me,” Jesus answered, his calm voice echoing across the court.
Even from a distance, John could see the priest’s eyes bulging with rage. Then, the unmistakable sound of a sharp slap as one of the officials struck Jesus’s face. John cringed. Jesus was a man of peace. He taught peace. He lived peace. How could anyone strike the son of God?
The interrogation continued as more witnesses testified against Jesus. It was all John could do to keep still, to not cry out, “What do you know of the Kingdom of God?”
He buried his head in his hands, trying to recall the words that Jesus had spoken earlier that night. John and the other eleven disciples had gathered with Jesus to celebrate the Passover feast. While breaking bread and sharing wine, Jesus had spoken words of hope that John would never forget. “In this world you shall have trouble…I have overcome the world…ask anything in my name and you will receive it…”
Now, as John caught a glimpse of the welts on Jesus’s face, he wondered if he had understood anything about his master.
Jesus…You are the son of God…you can overcome all this…
John struggled to form words of prayer. He could only whisper one word: “Jesus…”
Images of the supper he had just shared with the disciples came to mind. In his minds eyes, he saw Jesus breaking bread and passing a cup of wine.
This is my body given up for you…
John froze in his steps as the guards pushed and shoved Jesus out of the courtyard, propelling him to yet another trial. There was nothing John could do but try to blend in with the crowd of curious gawkers.
The scriptures tell us that John was with Jesus, even as he hung on the cross. He ignored the dangers of being identified as a follower of Christ. We too, are called to stay close to Jesus, even when it means that we will face troubles.
Yet, even in the midst of our greatest challenges and fears, we must take heart.
God has overcome the world.
Jane Kise, Ed.D, is a consultant and free-lance writer, with extensive experience in the fields of team building and school staff development. In addition to consulting, she teaches seminars and speaks across North America on prayer, constructive use of differences, and unlocking our lives for God. Her books include LifeKeys: Discover Who You Are and Differentiated Coaching: A Framework for Helping Teachers Change.
Copyright 2012 Nancy Jo Sullivan and Jane Kise