Christus Agonistes:the Betrayal
and Arrest of the I AM
John 18 begins with the betrayal and arrest of the Word made flesh, the beginning of the climax of John's gospel. John has been preparing us for this hour, the passion narrative, the final and ultimate irony of an evangel filled with ironies.1 But this of all ironies is the most glorious and most blessedthe glorification of the Son of God in the very hour of his humiliation and suffering. We have been given many adumbrations along the way that Jesus' hour looms, the hour for which he had come from heaven to earth (John 2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 16:32; 17:1). With Jesus' betrayal and arrest that hour has now come.
The Context and Structure of the Narrative Unit
It is clear that chapter 18 introduces a major new section in the gospel, since the preceding section (John 13-17) forms a unified thematic and literary
1 John is a master of dramatic irony. For a useful survey of this literary technique in John's gospel, cf. R. Alan Culpepper, Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel: A Study in Literary Design (Philadelpia: Fortress Press, 1983) 165-80.
wholeJesus' farewell discourse. In fact, chapter 18 has several points of contact with chapter 13 which indicate that the intermediate material is to be bracketed as a self-contained section that serves to introduce the passion narrative as a whole. The first of these points of contact is found at the very beginning of each chapter. At 13:1 we read, "Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end" (cp. v. 3). At 18:4 John makes a similar editorial comment concerning the Savior's self-conscious state of mental preparedness: "Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth, and said . . . ." Note that John employs the identical Greek word and form for "knowing" (eidos) in both instances.
Another point of contact is the parallel use of the phrase "having said these things" (tauta eipon), with Jesus as the subject, in both 18:1 and 13:21. No mere verbal parallel, these two texts bear a close affinity to one another in connection with the motif of the betrayer, a theme that is found not only here but throughout the gospel and which finds its obvious finale and completion here in chapter 18. In fact, Judas is not mentioned by name after 18:5.2 As early as chapter 6 the narrator had repeatedly notified us that Judas is the one who would betray Jesus (6:64, 71; 12:4; 13:2, 11, 18). These foreboding premonitions of his betrayal reinforce the theme of Jesus' divine knowledge and his firm resolve to do the Father's will. "Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him" (John 6:64). Since chapter 13 is the last time the betrayal theme was visited, its being picked up and finished here in chapter 18 significantly identifies the farewell discoursethe content of "these things"as a literary unit bracketed by an inclusio, but also serving to provide the theological context for what is about to unfold.
Having taken a brief look at the broader literary structure in which the arrest scene is imbedded and finds its significance, let us now turn to deter-
2 There is one oblique reference after this point: in the epilogue, the narrator refers back to the upper room scene, where the beloved disciple had asked Jesus who was going to betray him (John 21:20). John 19:11 actually refers to Caiaphas, not Judas.
mine its textual boundaries. Clearly, the text begins at 18:1. This is indicated by a shift in scene from Jerusalem (presumably the upper room, although we know this only from the synoptic accounts) to a garden across the Kidron Valley, a deep gorge that runs along the east of the Holy City (again, we know from the synoptics that this garden is called Gethsemane and is located on the Mount of Olives). Not so clear, however, is the closing boundary of the pericope. Should we conclude the arrest scene with the incident in which Christ rebukes Peter for striking off the ear of Malchus, the high priest's servant (vv. 10-11)? Or should we extend it further to include the next three verses, which narrate the actual arrest and appearance of Christ before Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas? Most Bibles, including the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament, set off vv. 12-14 as a separate paragraph or as the beginning of a new section. This initial reading seems justified by the fact that v. 13 indicates a change in location from the garden to the high priest's palace, and hence, a change of scene.
However, several considerations indicate that we should include vv. 12-14 as an important part of the entire betrayal and arrest scene, but without failing to recognize its function as a bridge-section enabling the narrative to develop naturally.3 First, the entire section is defined by an inclusio involving the words "cohort" (speira) and "assistants" (huperetai). Both words occur together in v. 3 (the third clause from the beginning of the pericope) and in v. 12 (the third clause from the end). These are the only references to a Roman cohort in John's gospel.4 Furthermore, the assistants mentioned in both verses are the attending officers "of the chief-priests and the Pharisees" (v. 3), or, more generally, "of the Jews" (v. 12).
3 George Mlakuzhyil, The Christocentric Literary Structure of the Fourth Gospel (Rome: Pontifical Institute, 1987) 106.
4 Technically, a cohort is a tenth of a Roman legionwhich comes to around 600 to 1000 soldiers, though some have suggested that a reduced contingent of 200 soldiers could have qualified as a cohort. John also mentions the presence of the cohort's commanding officer, the chiliarch, or tribune (v. 12). This is an amazing display of forceJudas must have convinced the Romans that Jesus was a very dangerous man indeed, or that his disciples were armed and planning to lead a rebellion (cp. Luke 23:5, 14). Interestingly, the synoptic evangelists do not mention the presence of Roman troops at the arrest.
Second, vv. 1-11 and vv. 12-14 must be taken together due to the thematic coherence that is apparent once the two sections are seen as a unit. That theme is not made explicit until v. 14: "Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people." This editorial comment provides the theological key for unlocking several puzzling details of the immediately preceding narrative (vv. 1-11). With this theological clue in hand, when we hear the Lord say, "If therefore you seek Me, let these go their way," we are to understand something far more profound than a literal request for the disciples to be let go unharmed. Rather, with these seemingly ordinary words, Jesus articulates the principle of substitution, the one dying on behalf of the many. As if to underscore the point, John provides an interpretive commentary: "[He said this] that the word might be fulfilled which He spoke, 'Of those whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one'" (v. 9). Such language is strongly allusive of Christ's earlier prophetic declarations guaranteeing the salvation of all those whom the Father had given to the Son in the eternal covenant of redemption (John 6:39; 10:29; 17:12). Just as verse 14 harks back to the earlier prophetic declaration of Caiaphas, who spoke not of his own accord but by Balaam-like inspiration (John 11:49-52), so verse 9 states that Christ's own prophetic word is in the process of being fulfilled. All of this shows that parenthetical remark of v. 14 would have to be viewed as an irrelevant detail devoid of any significance were it not brought into the closest possible connection with the foregoing narrative. It certainly has little bearing on what follows (the first denial of Peter). This is borne out by the fact that the remark about Caiaphas' prophecy is introduced by the introduction of another unimportant detail, namely, that Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas (v. 13). This is not the kind of detail one would expect at this point. But it is easily explained if we recognized that the author simply needed a quick transition from Annas to Caiaphas in order to point out the fulfillment of the latter's prophecy and thus to guide the reader in interpreting the theological significance of the arrest scene. Thus, vv. 12-14 cannot be severed from vv. 1-11 without doing violence to theology of the narrative itself.
A third piece of evidence that vv. 12-14 belong with vv. 1-11 is the simple fact that the arrest does not actually occur until v. 12: "So the Roman cohort and the commander, and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound
him." Thus, the pericope must be extended to at least v. 12. But if it includes v. 12, then it must also include v. 13, since v. 13 is grammatically dependent on v. 12 (note the paratactic kai introducing v. 13). And if it includes v. 13, then v. 14 is necessarily connected as a parenthetical remark expanding on the previous reference to Caiaphas (note the typical Johannine use of the particle de meaning "now"). These, then, are the pieces of evidence pointing to 18:1-14 as the natural boundaries of a narrative/thematic unit.5
What about the structure of John 18:1-14? Peter Ellis seems to be on the right track in observing a chiastic structure (although he incorrectly links vv. 12-14 with what follows, thus making the significance of this section unintelligible).6 The key is to note that the dialogue between Jesus and the arresting party is repeated almost verbatim in this textonce in vv. 4-5, and again in vv. 7-8.7 Jesus takes the initiative: "Whom are you looking for?" They respond, "Jesus of Nazareth." He replies, "I AM." This exchange occurs twice, the second being signaled by "again" (palin v. 7). But sandwiched between them is v. 6: "When therefore He said to them, 'I AM,' they drew back, and fell to the ground." Thus, we have the nucleus of a chiasm: the centerpiece (v. 6), and two dialogue sections surrounding it (vv. 4-5 and vv. 7-9).
The second dialogue section introduces the Malchus incident (vv. 10-11), which then stands as a parallel unit to the section in which Judas the betrayer and his cohort enter the scene at the beginning (vv. 2-3). In both sections, the concept of betrayal is present. Although Peter is no Judas, he
5 This is not to deny that our text is related to the subsequent narrative. For example, Christ's "I AM" confession (ego eimi) is mirrored by Peter's "I am not" anti-confession in v. 17 (ouk eimi). Peter seems to be Christ's foil throughout chapter 18, which alternates between scenes of Peter's denials (vv. 15-18 and 25-27) and Christ's good confession (vv. 19-24 and 28ff.).
6 Peter F. Ellis, The Genius of John (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1984) 249ff. Less satisfying is Charbonneau's chiasm, which attempts to draw parallels between vv. 1-2 and v. 11 (gift) and between v. 3 and v. 10 (violence), while finding the crux in vv. 4-9 (victory); cf. A. Charbonneau, 'L'arrestation de Jesus, une victoire d'apres la facture interne de Jn 18.1-11," Science et Esprit 34 (1982) 155-170.
7 Couplets are frequently interpreted as "evidence" of multiple sources in the Documentary Hypothesis of Pentateuchal origins. But such an approach betrays an insensitivity to the Semitic literary style. John was Jewish not only in his thought but also in his literary sensibilities.
nevertheless sides spiritually with the forces of darkness in his unwillingness to allow his Lord to go the way of the cross. The synoptics report that Jesus himself made this connection earlier when he identified the Satanic origin of Peter's earthly attitude: "Get behind me, Satan!" (Matt. 16:23). In taking up the sword in defense of his Lord, Peter failed to recognize that Christ's kingdom is not of this world. "If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would be fighting that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, my kingdom is not of this realm" (John 18:36). Judas was equally blind to the mystery of the kingdom, for he came "with lanterns and torches and weapons" and an entire Roman cohort in a futile attempt to defeat a heavenly king whose victory is secured through defeat. Earthly weapons can only defend or attack an earthly kingdom.
Finally, v. 1 and vv. 12-14 mirror one another in dramatic movement. In v. 1 Jesus, the Bridegroom arrives in the garden with his Bride, while in vv. 12-14, he is led away bound without his Bride. Thus the outer shell of the pericope's chiastic structure contains the theme of the close relationship between Jesus (the one) and his disciples (the many). Verse 1 makes emphatic mention of the fact that Jesus "himself and his disciples" (autos kai hoi mathetai autou) entered the garden (kepos)an Edenic trysting place where (we are told in v. 2) he had frequently met to consort with his Bride (eschatological Israel as symbolized by the twelve apostlescp. Rev. 21:2, 10-14). This theme is recapitulated in v. 14 by the reminder of Caiaphas's oracular prediction of Jesus' death on behalf of "the people" (ho laos), which does not signify Israel according to the flesh (1 Cor. 10:18), as Caiaphas supposes, but the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). Thus:
A (v. 1) The Bridegroom enters the Garden with his Bride
B (vv. 2-3) Judas the Betrayer and his Cohort
C (v. 4-5) 1st Dialogue I AM
D (v. 6) The Epiphany of the Last Adam guarding the Bride I AM
C' (vv. 7-9) 2nd Dialogue I AM
B' (vv. 10-11) Peter the Betrayer and his Sword
A' (vv. 12-14) The Bridegroom exits the Garden without his Bride
The Biblical Theology of the Narrative Unit
The most striking feature of this pericope is the epiphanic flash in which Jesus' self-attesting declaration of divinely homoousionic identity, "I AM," causes the stunned band of armed soldiers to fall backward to the ground. Some, following the rationalism of gospel-critic H. E. G. Paulus (1761-1851), have attempted to explain the miracle away by positing that the soldiers merely did a double-take as Jesus confidently asserted himself. But the text clearly states that they "fell to the ground." Could an entire cohort of two to six hundred men be knocked off their feet simply by being startled at the sound of two words? By focusing our attention on this crucial moment, the chiastic structure of the passage, indicates that this is no ordinary event but a lightning-bolt of resurrection power intruding itself proleptically as Jesus puts his lips to the bitter cup.8 The armed band stands in military array crouching to pounce upon its prey. Jesus does not flee or hide but steps forward in bold majesty and utters the superlative title of equality with YHWH (Exod. 3:14). Though he goes like a lamb to the slaughter and does not open his mouth in self-defense, the Son of God nevertheless lets his enemies know in no uncertain terms that "no one takes my life away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father" (John 10:18).
By powerfully demonstrating that he deliberately lays down his own life he also allows a glimmer of resurrection victory to shine briefly through the veil of his suffering. It is an instance of Johannine irony.9 In the very moment of his greatest weakness, in the very throes of agony, there the divine glory of the Son of God beams forth. Throughout the passion narrative, John parts the curtains and lets the true identity of his Subject gleam through, initiating the church into the mystery of the secret power of the cross. Earlier, Christ's
8 The theme of the Messiah's enemies stumbling and turning back is found in Psalm 27:2 and 35:4.
9 "The reader who sees as well as hears understands that the narrator means more than he says and that the characters do not understand what is happening or what they are saying" (Culpepper, p. 166).
humble reign was inaugurated as he rode into Jerusalem "seated on a donkey's colt" (John 12:15), the doomed colt of covenant ratification.10 The mockery scene is also redolent with the overtones of dramatic irony, for there we behold the glory of Christ as he is arrayed in the mock purple of royalty and crowned with thorns (John 19:1-5). Pilate and the Jews are engaged in the height of blasphemy! Yet, unwittingly, they proclaim the hidden mystery of our King's reign. Ironically, too, Pilate mockingly posts the inscription over Jesus' cross: "Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews" (John 19:19). Is not this what Jesus had said would happen? "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM" (John 8:28). It would be in his humiliation that he would be glorified (John 12:23). His weakness would be his power. His falling like a grain of corn into the earth would be the secret to his fruitfulness (John 12:24).
Indeed, fruitfulness is an implicit theme in this pericopefor one of its central thrusts is the creation of the new people of God. Although the three-fold repetition of the ego eimi (I AM) formula, with its middle member coinciding with the crux of the chiasm (v. 6), is the bull's eye of this text, we must not overlook the outer circles that surround it. We have already observed that the text opens with a reference to the close bond between Jesus and his disciples as they meet in the intimacy of a garden. The Septuagint employs the term "garden" (kepos) repeatedly in the Song of Songs, thus raising the strong possibility that John is alluding to the biblical symbolism of the garden of paradise.11 In the secluded bower of Edenic fruitfulness, Jesus, the Bridegroom,
10 Commenting on Genesis 49:11, Kline observes that "the foal, the donkey's colt (v. 11a) is mentioned in an ancient treaty account as the animal slain that was slain in order to ratify the covenant (cf. Zech. 9:9, 11)." Meredith G. Kline, Kingdom Prologue (S. Hamilton, MA: By the author, 1991) 204.
11 Songs 4:12, 15, 16 (2x); 5:1 (2x); 6:2 (2x), 11; 8:13. Derrett observes that "John alone tells us about Kedron (Qidron), and connects garden and torrent. This at once suggests LXX Cant 6,11 (cf. 6,2), where alone such a grouping is to be found" (J. Duncan Derrett, "Peter's Sword and Biblical Methodology," Bibbia et Oriente 32  183). He does not develop this insight much further, although he does notice the interesting parallel between Peter's sword and Canticles (Song of Songs) 3:8, which speaks of Solomon's body guards having "each man his sword at his side, guarding against the terrors of the night." In his conclusion Derrett makes these suggestive comments: "The Messiah, with his bride, the church, in the Garden, with his companions (Cant 5,1), is armed against the enemies in the night (Cant 3,8), and finds that he alone, and none of his 'sheep', will suffer the punishment designed by God for the people, for 'cup' means punishment. At the commencement of the process, his 'attendants' strike the first
woos and espouses to himself a Bride, the New Jerusalem. But unlike any bridegroom that went before him, this Second Adam, this Greater-Than-Solomon will gain his Bride by losing her. He will exchange his life for hers, thereby gaining his lifeand wifeagain.
In addition to the paradise-marriage imagery, we also find shepherd-sheep imagery here. "Jesus had often met (sunago) there with his disciples" (v. 2). John employs an unexpected term (sunago) to describe the meetings that Jesus and his disciples had enjoyed together many a time beforea term that has pastoral connotations. Literally the term means "to gather together." The way has already been prepared for this in the discourse of the Good Shepherd. Mark Stibbe has pointed out that John 18:1-11 contains several echoes of John 10:
First of all, the narrative settings are similar, with the action of 18.1-11 occurring in and around a walled enclosure12 during the hours of darkness. Secondly, Judas' approach to the garden enclosure mimics the approach of the kleptes ["robber"] in John 10, a connection which seems to be borne out by the description of Judas as kleptes ["robber"] in 12.6. Thirdly, Jesus' protective stance towards the disciples (he stands outside the walled garden whilst they huddle inside) imitates the protective conduct of the shepherd throughout John 10, as is indicated by the reference to 10.27ff in 18.9. Fourthly, John 10 itself anticipates this first step towards the passion, with its recurrent stress on the shepherd laying down his life for the sheep.13
An even more explicit link that demonstrates the presence of shepherd-sheep imagery here is the allusion (v. 14) to an earlier text where that imagery is explicit. This earlier text states that Caiaphas, "being high priest that year,
blow of the battle to drive Aaron from the temple and the city, while a New Israel rises from the ashes of the Old" (p. 191).
12 Equivalent to the sheepfold (aule) of John 10:1, 16.
13 Mark W. G. Stibbe, John as Storyteller (Cambridge University Press, 1992) 103.
prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together (sunago) into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" (John 11:52). This passage in turn is itself an allusion to the previous chapter, where Christ speaks of "other sheep which are not of this foldI must gather them also" (John 10:16). Thus, we have a chain of texts leading us back to the discourse of the Good Shepherd.
However, there is a shocking twist. Although John 18 does not record the fact that after Jesus was arrested the disciples all fled and were thereby scattered (in fulfillment of Zech. 13:7; cp. Matt. 26:31), we are nevertheless led to expect it: "Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me" (John 16:32).14 What? Wasn't Jesus supposed to be gathering his flock, not scattering it? Yes, and that is exactly what he is doing. For it is here that the broader Johannine theme of the twelve disciples as the New Israel is brought to its typological finale. Just as the Old Israel had to be exiled from the garden (land) and dispersed (scattered) throughout the nations, so the New Israel. Only this time the scattering is a redemptive scattering. It is only if the Son suffers alone that the work of salvation can be accomplished. "The time is come for you to leave me alone." Though he stupidly volunteers to lay down his life for Jesus (John 13:37), Peter cannot follow his Lord in this matter, for this work of redemption, this new exodus, is a work that only Godthe great I AM himself, God manifest in the flesh can accomplish (Exod. 3:14ff.). Thus is fulfilled the prophetic hope that the exiles would be gathered in an eschatological exodus from all the nations to which God had scattered them: "He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock" (Jer. 31:10).
Christ is also pictured here as the Second Adam, securing for himself a Bride by paying the bride-price that she cannot supply. He does so by defeating that old serpent, the Devil (Rev. 20:2) who had first intruded into the garden of God to snatch the bride away from Adam. Satan comes in the form
14 The verb "scatter" occurs three times in John's gospel, all in reference to sheep (John 10:12; 11:52; 16:32). It is also found in the Septuagint with reference to the dispersion of the Jews in the exile (Ezek. 5:12note the reference to the unsheathed sword pursuing Israel in wrath like the wind blowing away the chaff).
of Judas the betrayer, for the narrator has already informed us that Satan had "entered him" after he took the morsel at supper (John 13:27). But unlike the first Adam (and his recapitulation, Israel), Christ meets the intruding serpent head-on, in place of his spouse, and conquers him. "Now is judgment upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out" (John 12:31). "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that he might destroy the works of the Devil" (1 John 3:8). The Last Adam steps forward to meet the enemy and sovereignly substitutes himself in the Bride's place: "If therefore you seek me, let these go their way" (v. 8). Offering his own heel to the foe, the Seed of the woman thereby crushes the serpent's head (Gen. 3:15). It is now clear that the scattering of the sheep is necessary for their very redemption. Scattering and exile, banishment from the garden, are hereby transformed into a sign, not of covenant curse, but of covenant blessing. "Let these go their way!" The scattered sheep become the rescued sheep, the purchased Bride, for the sword now no longer pursues them but Christ himself.15
This point is driven home in the Malchus incident (vv. 10-11). It is crucial to understand that it is really a continuation of the exposition of v. 9. Having heard Jesus declare, "Let these go their way," we are then given three verses expounding the full import of these words (vv. 9-11). There was no place in Peter's theology for the death of his Lord. Rather than humbly receiving his Master's invitation to depart unharmed and safe, he became swollen with pride, thinking that his inexpert swordsmanship was necessary or even useful in the battle against the Devil. But had he not just witnessed the divine energy of the God-man who slew an army with the breath of his mouth?16 What did he think he had to offer that could be of any aid? True, we should not be overly judgmental of Peter, for he was motivated by a deep love and devotion to his Lord. But he nevertheless failed to recognize the real nature of
15 By this acted parable Christ instructs his disciples and the church of all ages concerning the profound mystery of the vicarious, limited atonement. Christ died only for those whom the Father had given him. So definitely-designed, so pointedly-effective, and so narrowly-intended is his blood, that the narrator theologizes, "This occurred that the word might be fulfilled which he spoke, 'Of those whom thou hast given me I lost not one'" (18:9).
16 Isaiah, speaking of the Messiah, says that "he will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked" (Isa. 11:4).
the conflict. He failed to perceive the divine nature of his Lord who had just twice asserted his ontological equality with the self-existent God. Even more importantly, he was blinded to the redemptive necessity of the death of the Lamb of God on his behalf. "Peter," Jesus asks, "the cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?" (v. 11).
Verse 11 (with John 12:27-28)17 is the Johannine echo of the synoptic agony in the garden. Transformed by John's unique insights, the agony becomes just thatan agon in the Greek sense, a heroic combat. Christus Agonistes. He girds up his loins and steps into the ring with Satan himself. He rejoices like a strong man ready to run his course. Jesus says in effect, "Peter, you are weak. Peter, you are a mere man. You don't stand a chance in this match. Step aside. Put your sword away. Let me handle this one. Make way for the Theanthropos, the God-man. Only I can drink this cup, and I must drink it alone." John paints a slightly different portrait of Christ in the final moments before his arrest than the synoptics. In the synoptics, Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. In John, Jesus boldly identifies himself first. In the synoptics, Jesus is in agony, desiring the cup to pass from him, if that were possible. In John, Jesus runs to the cup.
But it is equally true that the Jesus of John is a suffering servant. He has Peter put up his sword. Having just clearly evidenced his divine power (v. 6), he allows himself to be taken prisoner and led away to an unjust trial, rather than calling down fire from heaven upon his enemies. Christ is strong and weak at once.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you (2 Cor. 4:8-12).
17 "Now my soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify thy name."
Where did Paul learn to speak with such paradoxical delight in the glory of suffering? Was it not from his Lord? Did he not see in his Lord first that the power of resurrection life was manifested even as he was being delivered over to death? Did he not see in his Lord first the principle that death works in him, but life in his people? The way of the cross is the way of victory. The way of death is the way of life. Peter, put away your sword of carnal triumphalism! Bride of Christ, stand back and behold the Lamb of God, the divinely-appointed Sheath, receive the plunging steel of divine wrath to the hilt for your sins! There in the paradise-garden the Bridegroom was arrested, led away bound under the judgment of the world. And there in the paradise-garden a Bride was stripped of the sword of carnal self-assertion, was scattered, but was sent away free, justified, and remade after the image of her meek, lowly, suffering Head who reigned from the tree.
Redeemer Orthodox Presbyterian Chapel
San Fernando Valley, California