Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 11 of Lent :: Like a Sheep

“Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. 
They bound Him, led Him away and handed Him over to Pilate the governor
(Matthew 27:1-2)
On the surface, everything seemed peaceful and calm as Jesus finished praying with His disciples.  Under the surface, souls raged with intense emotions.  Everything was about to change.  Armed with clubs and swords, an angry mob was coming up the side of the hill on a mission.  Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, has ordered them to seize the One called Jesus.  What a sight it must have been: a jumble of humanity with shaking fists, upraised clubs, and irate voices.  For what?  Were they expecting to encounter an army of militia or a gang of revolutionary insurrectionists?  There were none of those.  They came face-to-face with Jesus who stood before them calmly, ruled by the essence of peace itself, as He quietly asked, “Who is it you want?” (John 18:4)  With powerful arms and hands of iron, they seized Him.  This was an arrest like none other.

Jesus wasn’t gagged and dragged down the street behind some horse like other revolutionaries who had put up a fight, resisting arrest.  No, the Bible says they “led Him away.”  The Gospel writer, Matthew, chose the most interesting Greek words to describe the events, using a series of agricultural terms.  Matthew says they “bound Him.”  This wasn’t so much a violent binding, but rather it was the skillful binding or tying that one would do when securing an animal.  The next phrase, “led Him away,” carries this image further.  “Led Him away,” is the word picture of a shepherd who ties a rope around the neck of a sheep, then leads it down the path to its destination.  These soldiers simply slipped a rope about Jesus’ neck and walked Him, like a sheep, away from Gethsemane to Caiaphas, the high priest.  Later that same night, his accusers would, in the same manner, lead Him to the governor, Pontius Pilate.   Jesus went silently, willingly.

Reflection: Keeping the description from Matthew 26:1-2 in mind, read what Isaiah prophesied hundreds-of-years earlier about Jesus, the Messiah.

6We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on Him, on Him.” 
7He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”
(Isaiah 53:6-7)[i]

Prayer: Jesus, no one forced You. You willingly let them lead You away. Like a sheep, You were silent.  You knew what was before You, yet You went anyway. I know the truth. It wasn’t the brute force of angry men with clenched fists and large clubs that compelled You to leave with them.  No, You were led away from that place by love alone.  Love for humanity.  Love for me.  Jesus, thank You!”

[i] Isaiah 53:6 from the Message. Isaiah 53:7 from the TNIV.

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