Power and Spiritual Abuse

In just five short verses spiritual abuse is on full and undeniable display. What a gift it was that there were witnesses to see and record this scene. Again and again, Jesus asserts his power by allowing the oppressive behavior of the spiritual authorities to be seen for what it is. Earlier Jesus said that we would know his followers by the fruit of their heart and actions.

John 18:19-24 NLT
Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. 20 Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret. 21 Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.”
22 Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?”
24 Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest.
John 18:19-24 TMG
Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, “I’ve spoken openly in public. I’ve taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together. Everything has been out in the open. I’ve said nothing in secret. So why are you treating me like a conspirator? Question those who have been listening to me. They know well what I have said. My teachings have all been aboveboard.”
22 When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, “How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!”
23 Jesus replied, “If I’ve said something wrong, prove it. But if I’ve spoken the plain truth, why this slapping around?”
24 Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to the Chief Priest Caiaphas.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What caught your attention as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

Was there a particular feeling you experienced as you listened to the story? Bring that feeling into your prayer. How do you need Jesus to meet you in that feeling?

How does this story intersect with your own experience of getting to the truth? Or being questioned in the process? Bring Christ into that experience with you in prayer.

Be still and savor any consoling words or pictures in your prayer.

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Fear, Shame and Denial

How many sermons and bible studies have called us out on denying that we know Jesus? Yet heaping shame upon our denial only serves to keep us stuck and entrench us further. As we learn more about the impact which trauma or the threat of a traumatic experience has upon our body, including our brain, we learn that denial is an autonomic response to a traumatic event. Let's shift the focus here to wonder. What might it have been like for Peter to witness 200-600 armed Roman soldiers come to arrest Jesus? Can we stay with Peter by the fire and offer compassion to a brave disciple who is grappling with his fear? What comfort might he need from Jesus now?

John 18:12-18 (NLT)
So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up. 13 First they took him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.”
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. 16 Peter had to stay outside the gate. Then the disciple who knew the high priest spoke to the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in. 17 The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?”
“No,” he said, “I am not.”
18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it, warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

What feelings – either comfortable or uncomfortable - are rising up in you as you listen to this story? Where do you feel what you feel? Refrain from judging the feeling and gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. Listen for how he meets you in these feelings.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God’s compassion for you.

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