Tonight was different again. The administration is still only letting a portion of a tier out at a time, and they have asked for two shorter studies since I meet with two different groups.
For the first study I had two guys. It was interesting to be in that smaller format. It was a relaxed, 3-way conversation. One of the guys has been a regular for some time, the other has been in the unit for about a month. I remember giving him communion because he has a rather unusual name.
There was a medical emergency between the first and second group. As the first group went back to their cells I noticed a man out in the common area who was seated and leaning on the table. He looked like we was not feeling well – some sort of abdominal pain. As he was slowly walking back to his cell he doubled over and had a hard time getting back up. One of the COs informed me that I needed to leave while they were dealing with the situation. A nurse went to the man just as I was leaving. I waited in one of the visit rooms while they dealt with the situation and then had pill-call. There was about a 45-minute delay between the two groups.
There were 8 guys in the second group, and they were much more wound up than the first group.
The opening discussion was about the last meal they had before they were arrested. One man had cereal before he was arrested later that morning. Another had loaded up on junk food at a Giant’s game before he was arrested.
We looked at three different scriptures tonight. The first one was:
John 13:1-5 (NKJV)
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
As we talked through this passage I knelt before each man. When I did this with the second group there were three COs out in the common area who seemed to be curious and perplexed, though not alarmed, at what I was doing.
We wondered what Jesus might have said to each disciple. Did He use humor to break the tension? “Hey Andrew, did you know you had a piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your foot all day?” Perhaps He offered words of encouragement to each individual, or perhaps He performed the task in silence as a servant.
Jesus knew each of the disciples well: what they had done, and what they were going to do. He knew Judas would betray Him, and that Peter would deny Him. Jesus washed their feet, not because the disciples were so righteous, but because He love them so. He was establishing an example for how we are to love one another.
We then looked at:
John 18:1-12 NKJV
Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane
18 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered.2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
5 They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
8 Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.”
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”
12 Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him.
We see Jesus and the disciples going to a garden near a brook. About a mile from the jail there is a very nice park and rose garden. The men are familiar with this area. So the idea of Jesus and the disciples hanging out in a park late at night makes sense to these guys.
When they come to arrest Jesus it isn’t just a couple of cops, it is an armed contingent. The arresting officers were expecting trouble and were confused at how easily Jesus was offering Himself.
Jesus was offering Himself.
In an arrest situation emotions can sometimes run high. One writer describes most gang shootings as bullets fired helter-skelter. It is likely that Peter was just wildly flailing his sword and one unfortunate servant was hit.
Luke 22:51 describes how Jesus healed the injured mans ear.
But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
One man in the group doubted he would be that caring in the midst of his own arrest.
Then the detachment … arrested Jesus and bound Him
Jesus who was arrested
Jesus who was in jail
Jesus as the accused in court
Jesus as the man convicted
Jesus on death row
One man found comfort knowing that Jesus understood what it was like to be scared and praying in jail before trial. This man understood the scripture
Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV
14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
During the trial Peter denies knowing Jesus.
The disciples are scattered in fear.
Jesus is executed.
His corpse is hastily laid in a grave with inadequate time to even prepare the body for burial.
Death appears to have triumphed.
John 20:1-12 NKJV
The Empty Tomb
20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb.4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
One of the guys had a hard time with the resurrection story. He could understand Jesus as a great prophet, but not as God. How could we know if Jesus was, as the first chapter of John puts it, the “one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”?
I said it was a good question, and one worth wrestling with. I asked some of the other guys what they thought. Some saw Jesus as the Son of God, others weren’t sure.
I offered how I had come to accept Jesus as the God’s Son.
I encouraged the guys to continue to ask hard questions and to explore their faith.
The Easter story has challenged people throughout the ages: who do you say that Jesus is?