I never thought I’d be thinking about Jesus during a Tom Cruise movie, but it happened.
The movie? MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - FALLOUT.
[Spoiler Ahead] - It’s okay though, I only give away one of the earlier twists in the movie.
Basically, a bunch of nukes have been stolen (aren’t they always?) and Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has to track them down before they are detonated. In the process, he has to interview a Russian nuclear weapons specialist who refuses to give Hunt an important code that will help him access an oh-so-important laptop with some more important stuff on it.
The nuke specialist will only do it if Hunt can get a manifesto about “no-peace-without-suffering” read live on CNN. Hunt threatens. Nuke specialist holds his ground. Hunt concedes, and within moments, Wolf Blitzer is on air reading the manifesto, live. During the broadcast, we find out that the nukes have already been detonated in Jerusalem, The Vatican and Shanghai. The nuclear specialist feels satisfied and gives Hunt the code.
But voila! All is not as it seems.
Once Ethan and his IMF crew get the codes, the walls of the hospital literally fall back and we see a makeshift studio in the background with a fake news crew filming Wolf Blitzer. The news footage of destroyed cities was also a fake. [Yes, I see the irony].
Turns out, Hunt had the whole scene staged and was in control of the reality the specialist was experiencing the whole time. What seemed like chaos and disorder (to the specialist), was in fact, a well-orchestrated plan designed to accomplish a predetermined end goal.
So, now you’re wondering, “Okaaay, but how in the world did you find Jesus in that scene?”
Well, you simply need to step into the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of Jesus’ arrest and you’ll see the connection. By any account, that was a rough night for Jesus and His followers. An armed mob has surrounded Him with every intention of doing great harm that will eventually lead to His death. Yet, not once do we see Jesus break into panic mode. If anything, He seems to be the one calling the shots every step of the way. Perhaps even more incredible is the fact that in the midst of all the pandemonium, He seems to slow down the reel long enough to heal one of the very people who had come to kill Him.
Incase you don’t have a lot of Bible background, I am referring to the miracle where Jesus heals the chopped off ear of the High Priests’ servant, a man named Malchus (John 18:10-11).
Before I walk you through this event, let me plant in your mind this central idea so you can see it unfold as we journey through that night.
EVEN WHEN LIFE SEEMS OUT OF CONTROL, JESUS CHRIST STILL CALLS THE SHOTS IN YOUR LIFE.
He’s as cool and in control of the scenes in your life as Ethan Hunt was in the scene described above. (You can forgive me later for comparing Jesus to fake Tom Cruise), but based on the events that took place on the night of Jesus’ arrest, there are at least three ways Jesus is kinda like Ethan Hunt. To be clear, I’m exegeting scripture here, not MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE FALLOUT.
Allfour Gospel writers capture the unfolding events of Jesus’ arrest, so we’re getting many perspectives on this one fateful night.
1. JESUS’ PERSPECTIVE
(JESUS POSITIONED HIMSELF EXACTLY WHERE HE WANTED AND NEEDED TO BE).
John 18:1-4 says, “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
One of the basic rules of counter-terrorism (which ironically, was developed in the Middle East) is to vary your routine and your schedule. Yet, on the night of Jesus’ arrest, His actions suggest He was deliberately setting Himself up to be caught.
When verse 1 says thatJesus headed to a garden across the Kidron Valley, understand that this was an act of omniscience. He was knowingly placing Himself at the precise location where God’s pre-ordained plan would begin to unfold (Acts 2:22-24).
Jesus even knew in advance full well what Judas Iscariot (His betrayer) was up to.He not only knew Judas would betray Him, but He knew how, where and whenHe would do it, which is why during Jesus’ last meal with His disciples, John 13:2 explains that, “[while] The evening meal was in progress, … the devil …prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.” And then, after Jesus served Him communion and humbly washed His feet, John 13:27 says, “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”
So, here again, we see Jesus knowingly positioning Himself for what is to come. He knew that Judas had already aligned Himself with Satan. It’s why He “released” Him to go put in motion His betrayal plan.It’s also why He would later head to the precise location in the Kidron Valley where He knew Judas would bring the authorities to come find Him. By the way, it’s for this same reason that several assassination attempts on Jesus’ life failed (John 8:59; Luke 4:28-30; Matthew 26:3-4; John 5:18-19). They all failed because Jesus was on no man’s time table, but on a predetermined schedule set by the Father in heaven (Acts 2:22-24).
For followers of Jesus Christ, what may sometimes appear in your life as sudden and out of control, is many times God’s way of positioning you exactly where you need to be in that season of life.
Admittedly, it may feel chaotic and scary, but in reality, you are always within the bubble of God’s providential care. Romans 14:8 captures this same truth when it says, “If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
NEVER ONCE does Jesus take His hands off the wheel of your life. If anything, sometimes He steers us right into the heart of the storm to accomplish a purpose greater than what we may be able to comprehend while we’re in it. Steven Furtick of Elevation Church, NC gives a similar perspective on this when he says, “God hasn’t brought you out into the deep end to drown you. God brought you out into the deep end because your enemies can’t swim!”
Remember: EVEN WHEN LIFE SEEMS OUT OF CONTROL, JESUS CHRIST STILL CALLS THE SHOTS IN YOUR LIFE.
2. THE ARRESTING OFFICERS’ PERSPECTIVE
(JESUS COULD HAVE EASILY OVERPOWERED THE ARRESTING OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS).
John 18:3 and Mark 14:43 give us some important details about this armed entourage, “So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” Mark 14:43 adds that, “With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.”
This security force is a big group! It includes Jewish temple officers who are carrying clubs as weapons, and they’re being led by the servant of the high priest, a man named Malchus (who’s a key player in this story).This large contingent also includes a detachment of Roman soldiers (a cohort), which is made up of at least 500-armed men, all carrying swords.
Needless to say, this is an intimidating crowd!
In addition, they are carrying lanterns and torches,which means, these guys have come ready to break down some doors because they’re expecting a fight. In their minds, they believed that Jesus would need to be taken by force, or that He’d be hiding and they’d need to search Him out in the dark and capture Him like Seal Team 6searching for Osama Bin Laden.
So they are not expecting what is going to happen next.
Instead of finding a man crouching in a dark hidden corner of the Garden, John 18:4 says Jesus walks right up to them to present Himself. “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said. Jesus answered, “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.”
Man! These verses are loaded with power! First evidence of this is in Jesus’ response to them when He says, “I am he.”The Greek form of Jesus’ response are the words, “ego eimi”,which translates as, “I AM.”That expression should immediately bring to mind a name by which God refers to Himself on Mount Sinai when God tells Moses what His name is, “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14)
My point? Jesus is not simply identifying Himself to this security force - THIS IS A DECLARATION OF HIS DEITY!He is giving them a brief, fleeting revelation of His divine power.You might recall from Revelation 19:15 that in the future when Jesus returns, the words coming out of His mouth are going to be like “…a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.” These dudes just received a small dose of the impact of the sword! It’s this display of divine power in His words that causes a group of armed men to “…draw back and fall to the ground” (verse 6).
Here’s the implication of this truth for your life. Sometimes God WILL NOT deliver us out of those unexpected difficult trials we experience in life. Rather, IN THE MIDST OF IT, He simply gives us a deeper revelation of Himself where we learn that HE is the answer we most desperately need.
Please pause. Read that last section AGAIN.
So, in light of this, if you find yourself in a trying season of life, it will prove very helpful to turn down the volume down on all the other distracting noise in your life, prayerfully lean in,and listen closely to hear what God is trying to reveal to you about Himself.
3. PETER + MALCHUS’ PERSPECTIVE
JESUS IS IN CONTROL OF EVERY MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE.
According to Luke’s account of this story, the disciples not only observed Jesus’ display of power and authority over the security force, but it appears they wanted to take advantage of it because Luke 22:49 says, “When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?”
John’s account of the same event goes into more details and tells us that before Jesus could give a response to their question, the most impulsive one in their group, Peter, decides to take matters into his own hands. John 18:10-11 “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Now, clearly Peter hadn’t thought this through. This was pure passion without wisdom.First of all, they were way outnumbered, and in contrast to the well armed security force, Luke 22:38 tells us that between the 11 disciples, they only had two swords! Peter was holding one of them and he clearly didn’t even know how to use it because it would appear that he was trying to cut off Malchus’ head, but Malchus ducked and got his ear sliced off instead.
What Peter did was dangerous because were Christ not in complete control of the situation, these soldiers would have made no qualms about retaliating and killing everyone around Jesus. In fact, it would seem like that was what was about to happen next, until Jesus, once again exerts His divine authority. It’s here that we finally arrive at the miracle, which, considering the chaotic scene, is quite incredible.
It were as if Jesus pressed PAUSE on the scene, rebukes Peter, and then Luke 22:51says, “But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.”
Think of what Jesus just did.
Malchus is not a friend of Jesus!
Malchus works directly for Caiaphas, the high priest, the man at the heart of the conspiracy to murder Jesus!
Malchus is the one leading the security force that came to arrest and later torture Jesus!
In this moment, Malchus is an enemy of Jesus!
Yet, in the midst of this hostile crowd, Jesus extends grace and compassion to Malchus by healing him. Note that it doesn’t say Jesus picked up his chopped off hear and put it back together, no, it says Jesus touched his ear and healed him.
In other words, in an instant, “the One through whom all things were created” (John 1:3) fashioned a brand new ear for Malchus so that the searing pain he had a moment earlier was suddenly gone!The deafness he had to have experienced the moment his ear was cut off, also gone! He can hear again! He was healed just as quickly as he had lost his ear, but over a lifetime, would remember the grace, compassion, and divine miracle-working power of Jesus in his life.
What of course stand out as most peculiar in this scene is the fact that after these two displays of His sovereignty and power, Jesus seemingly unpauses the scene, steps back into His arrest so the officers and soldiers could carry on with what they came to do. It were as if He was saying,“Sorry for the interruptions, fellas, I was just being God. Go ahead, let’s continue this whole arrest and torture thing!”
There’s much to be learned from this encounter, so let me focus on this (sorry, I won’t be saying anything more about Ethan Hunt).
I know from personal experience the heartache and pain and confusion that come when life takes a sudden unexpected turn.One moment, you’re going about your day enjoying what is relatively a peaceful routine, butby 6:00pm that evening, you suddenly feel like you’ve been inhaled into life’s back draft.When you fall into that moment andthose tormenting questions begin harass you as you wonder where God is in the midst of your pain – please remember this central truth:
For the man or woman who has trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, EVEN WHEN LIFE SEEMS OUT OF CONTROL, REST IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT JESUS CHRIST STILL CALLS THE SHOTS IN YOUR LIFE.
Whether your faith in hIM waivers or remains resolute,God has promised in His word that HE will finish and bring to perfect completion the good work He began in you.
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.