Lenten Devotion for Thursday, March 6

By David Carlson

Read John 18:1-9

Roman soldiers, one would think, are not easily intimidated. They were on an errand to arrest a man, which was probably not so unusual an assignment for them. These soldiers had apparently found him without a great deal of difficulty–they had been led to him by Judas, who presumably knew where He would be. And yet, when Jesus identified Himself, they “drew back and fell to the ground.”

Were they expecting Him to run? Probably. Were they expecting resistance? It’s hard to imagine seasoned Roman soldiers shrinking from a little opposition, yet they fell to the ground even before Peter’s feeble attempt to resist. So what’s going on?

It was dark, yes. Is that why they were startled? Perhaps. He stepped towards them rather than retreating; is that why they fell down? Maybe. But it has to be more than this: Jesus was not what they expected.

I have been reflecting, trying to recall a time when I was on a fairly routine errand expecting something other than a face-to-face meeting with God. Perhaps you can remember a moment when you got something much more than you had bargained for.

“I told you that I am He. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”  This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”

In the end, the ultimate reason the soldiers fall back doesn’t matter. The scene ends with Jesus’ word will be fulfilled. Thanks be to God.

We can be confident that the next time we confront a moment which causes us to draw back and fall to the ground, the last word in our lives will be spoken by God. Jesus’ plan and mission will be fulfilled, also for you. Thanks be to Jesus.

We pray: Dearest Lord, we pray that we know You such that every moment we live in the assurance that You have stepped forward and that we are included among those who You have not lost. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Family discussion:

Talk about a time when things didn’t go the way you thought they would. Was it unexpected good? Or unexpected bad? What do you do when something unexpected happens? How would you pray if you knew Jesus was going to get His way, even if you don’t?

Everyday object:

Find timer in your house. Maybe the microwave, an egg timer, or even your phone. Set it to go off some time during your devotion. Talk about that unexpected interruption. What do we do when our lives get interrupted? How do you take that to Jesus?