Reading: John Chapter 18
By Sonya Polino
Before we begin, please take a minute and ask Holy Spirit to speak personally and intimately to you today through John 18.
Today we embark on a very different journey from what we experienced yesterday. John 17 is a chapter to be cherished and hold very dear - Jesus personally prayed for US! However, chapter 18 quickly catapults us into the journey that breaks our hearts.
Each one of us has what is called a “sphere of influence”. Contained with our “sphere of influence” are those whom we impact and who impact us in varying degrees. At the outer most reaches may be those we touch through ripple effects i.e. the children at the school in which we serve on the board, or the husband of the woman we are praying with. Making our way inward, there may be those within our work environments, those we simply pass in the hall. Then those that we connect with or work with more directly. Inward even more may be our “fringe” friends or acquaintances. Then friends. Further still would be family, spouses and children. Somewhere in those tighter circles are our closest friends that hold us accountable and speak truth to us. Throughout our “seasons” of life, people will vacillate in their degree of proximity of influence. This “sphere of influence” is where we live our life.
In a short, quick summary, we might say Jesus had the Gentiles at the outer most, and working inward: Jews as a whole, the crowds that listened; the disciples and then the 3 (Peter, James & John).
As you read through John 18, write down individuals or groups that are in Jesus’ “sphere of influence” and make a short note of the interaction.
Immediately following such a beautiful, Holy Spirit anointed prayer, Jesus is now walking a very lonely and challenging journey. A similar journey we have all walked, haven’t we?
Confused and scared, his disciples scatter. We’ve seen this happen, right? Someone's life gets turned on its head, and those of us around get shaken and not sure what to do. Or it’s our life that is turned and we all of a sudden can’t see who is there to help us.
Maybe we have been let down by our local government or authorities that don’t, can’t or won’t take the appropriate action. Maybe it is higher up and our judicial system has let us down. Worse yet would be those in our “denomination” or our local church family.
The worst of all is when our own personal “Peter”, our spouse, closest friend, parent or child has abandoned or turned against us.
Again, it is interesting that all of this transpires immediately following a moment of beauty and intimacy. That’s when it hurts the most, isn’t it? When the abandonment and betrayal comes from a place of vulnerability and intimacy?
This is a scar that we must all face at some point in our lives. Reflect back on this journey of betrayal for Jesus. We naturally see Judas as the great betrayer. But absolutely every level within Jesus' sphere of influence has abandoned and betrayed Him to some degree. He is completely alone, walking the hardest road He has walked thus far. Don’t let the fact that Jesus was fully God steal from you the fact that He was fully human too. He experienced and felt it all just as you and I do. So take a moment to sit into the emotions and weight of these moments for Him.
And yet, Jesus is our perfect example! Hallelujah! Not only does He experience every part of life here on earth as a human, but He shows us how to walk and overcome it. Verse 1 tells us He was in the garden with His disciples. Cross-referencing that with other gospels, we know that Jesus poured out Himself to His Father in prayer. He poured out His weakness (“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Matt 26:39 HCSB); and then humbly submitted Himself to His Father’s will “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” His personal intimate transparent wrestling with His merciful, loving Father. Friend, may we not neglect these moments within our own lives! This is where His and our strength is found.
And it is from that place of submission and strength that Jesus could stand and boldly state in John 18:37, “...I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. ...”
And so I place two challenges before you today:
Take time to consider your own personal “sphere of influence"; include individual names, as well as any groups of people. Awareness is key to living intentionally. Everyone in our “sphere of influence” is watching and being influenced. Lord, make us aware, and guide us in how to be Your light and Your hand of goodness to them.
Intentionally and completely be transparent with your merciful, loving Father. Resist the temptation to pray as we know we “should”... “Lord give me strength." Although this is a good prayer, your true heart should be laid out completely first... “My Father! Let this pass from me!” Trust me, God can handle the true depth of our emotions and vision into the circumstances! Just as with Jesus, our boldness and strength will be rooted in that very place of transparency. So we can then face the road laid out before us, whether with those around us or alone with Him, and boldly say “I was born for THIS! I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth.”
Holy Spirit, speak your truth into us. Reveal, revive and lead us. Lord, open our ears to hear You, eyes to see You and hearts that are radically obedient to You! We love You and we trust You, Lord! In Jesus Name, Amen!