After Jesus rose again, he appeared to His disciples and over 500 people. The story begins with a reflection back to the first time Jesus called Peter to follow him. Peter and a few of the disciples decided to go out and fish. After a long night of no success, they returned to shore.
Before they reached the shore a man called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
They replied no and the man told them to throw their nets over the right side.
When they caught so many the nets were full, the disciple Jesus loved said, “It is the Lord!”
When Peter heard this, he jumped out of the boat and ran to shore, leaving his friends behind to drag in the catch. Leave it to Peter to act without thinking first. But who could blame his enthusiasm in seeing the Lord?
After bringing to fish to shore, Jesus told them to join him for breakfast, and that is where our story picks up.
THE BIBLE STORY
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him,“Follow me!”
Just like Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus reaffirmed Peter’s love for Him three times. Then just as He had called Peter the first time, Jesus ended with telling Peter to follow Him.
Peter would move from there to become one of the most influential leaders of the early church. His zeal for the Lord was no longer dampened by fear. He would never deny his Lord again, even when it meant death.
Today our mission team is finishing up our last day of Sports Vacation Bible School, so please be in prayer as we say our goodbyes and travel home tomorrow.
Day Four: The Betrayal of Jesus – John 18:1-27
This week’s story starts with the betrayal of Jesus and goes into Peter’s denial. Today’s context is only focused on the crowd that came to take Jesus away and His accusers. I always wondered who made up the crowd that was sent to bring Jesus back to the high priest. It turns out there were two main groups of soldiers.
John is the only Gospel to mention a small contingent of Roman soldiers. The Roman soldiers were few in number and were likely only there to prevent rioting.
The temple police were the primary arresting officers. But who made up Temple Police?
The Temple Police
The temple police were drawn from the Levites and were charged with maintaining order in the temple precincts.
Levites were the descendants of Levi. It was their job to serve as assistants to the priests in the worship system of ancient Israel. Only specific descendants of Aaron were charged with the responsibility of priesthood – giving the burnt offerings and leading people in worship and confession. The other Levites did more menial duties, like taking care of the tabernacle and the temple.
A Levite’s special service to God began with his consecration at about 25. This was not a quick process. First, he was sprinkled with the “water of purification.” Next, the hair was shaved from his entire body and his clothes were washed. A sacrifice was made of two young bulls and a grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil was presented. After this purification, he was brought to the door of the tabernacle where the hands of the elders were laid upon them.
You Levites began as assistants to the priests and chief Levites, then progressed through the higher duties and offices such as a doorkeeper, a member of the temple orchestra, or an administrator.
Temple Police Duties
Generally, the temple police were the gatekeepers, the watchmen that guarded the entrance to the Temple mount. This was a duty taken very seriously as you can see from the excerpt below:
“Levites were stationed at twenty-one points in the Temple court; at three of them priests kept watch during the night. A captain patrolled with a lantern, to see that the watchmen were at their posts; and if one was found sleeping, the captain had the right to beat him and to set fire to his garments.”
Temple police also had the very difficult task of opening and closing the gates. According to Josephus (a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian, and hagiographer), it took at least twenty men to do. They also had the menial duty of cleaning its precincts.
When the temple police and soldiers arrested Jesus, they transported him not to the current high priest, but to Annas, the father-in-law of the current high priest. Why on Earth would they do that? And who was this Annas guy anyway?
Apparently, Annas was the high priest from AD 6 to AD 15. He was originally appointed to the office by Quirinus, governor of Syria, but he was deposed by Valerius Gratus, procurator of Judea in AD 15. Even so, his influence was considerable.
According to JewishEncylopedia.com, it seems that Annas and Caiaphas (the actually appointed high priest) seemed to discharge the duties together and each of them in a different sense was regarded as high priest. It was even suggested that Annas may have been encouraged to ignore the Roman appointment and continue in office. This may be the reason why Jesus was first brought to Annas.
When Annas had deemed Jesus guilty, he could not be the one to present him to the Romans, therefore Jesus was sent to Caiaphas. Since he was the one actually appointed, it was Caiaphas’ job to make sure Jesus was presented to the Roman government for punishment. However, the Romans would not punish theological differences, as was the complaint of the Jewish leaders, so they trumped up false political accusations when the time came to present Jesus.
By the way, Jesus’ “trial” did not follow procedures, thus his sentencing was completely illegal (even before the trumped up political charges). The testimony of one person for themselves is inadmissible. Even back then it was necessary for two witnesses sharing the same story to give testimony before a person could be found guilty.
Jesus even brought this point up. “Why do you question me? Question those that have heard me, they know what I have said.”
No two people could be found who could give the same testimony against Jesus.
THE BIBLE STORY
(As retold by me.)
After praying for his disciples and future followers, Jesus knew they time had come for Him to be betrayed. Knowing every agony He would endure, He went out to Judas the Betrayer and the soldiers. Only the Son of God could face such knowledge and still do what was commanded of Him.
Jesus asked, “Who is it you are looking for?”
“Jesus the Nazarene.”
“I am He,” Jesus told them, announcing His deity and His being the one they sought.
The temple police had heard may people preach in the Temple courtyards, but they recognized Jesus’ teaching as unique. Hearing Him speak thus, they fell to the ground – a common reaction to divine revelation.
He asked them again, “Who are you looking for?”
“Jesus the Nazarene.” I can almost hear the quiver in their voice.
“I told you, I am He. So if you are looking for me let these men go.” This was to fulfill the words He had said: “I have not lost one of those You have given Me.”
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave. He was not going to allow anyone to arrest his Lord.
Jesus rebuked Peter. “Sheathe your sword! Am I not to drink the cup the Father has given me?”
I can imagine his confusion and shock as he sheathed his sword, watched the other disciples run away, and followed behind the soldiers who had come to arrest Jesus.
Jesus was taken to Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest that year.
Simon Peter followed Jesus into the courtyard but stayed behind at a distance. What would the people here do to him if they knew who he was? He ducked his head as he entered, but the doorkeeper stopped him.
“Aren’t you one of that man’s disciples?” the doorkeeper asked.
Oh no! What should he do? He heard the coarse laughter of those berating Jesus. A Roman soldier brushed against Peter on his way out the gate. Fire reflected in the polished metal of the sharp sword hanging at his waist. Peter gulped.
“I am not!” Peter denied.
He tucked his head down and scurried to a fire, close enough to hear Annas questioning Jesus about His disciples and teachings, but far enough away to not be recognized.
“I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus said. “I have always taught in the synagogue and in the Temple complex, where all the Jews congregate, and I haven’t spoken anything in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who heard what I told them. Look, they know what I said.”
When Jesus had said these things, one of the Temple police slapped Jesus. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
“If I have spoken wrongly, give evidence about the wrong; but if rightly why do you hit Me?”
Having decided what to do, Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas, the high priest, for official judgment.
While Simon Peter was standing and warming himself, one of the other men said to him, “Aren’t you one of His disciples too?”
“I am not!” Peter denied again.
One of the slaves, a relative to the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you with Him in the garden?”
Fear gripped at his heart. They would send him to be punished with Jesus if he admitted it. He must convince them once and for all he was not a disciple of Jesus. Peter denied it vehemently. When he finished, a rooster immediately crowed. Peter remembered Jesus’ prophesying his denial and he was ashamed. He had failed Jesus, the Lord he proclaimed to love.
For our 11th anniversary, my husband and I traveled to Maine for a day to see and photograph lighthouses. Instead of providing research from my current work in progress this week, I thought I would follow a tangent and share about the Portland Head Light Lighthouse. Enjoy the pictures and a little bit of history!
What: The Portland Head Light Lighthouse – the oldest lighthouse in Maine
Who: Commissioned by George Washington – Yes, that one!
When: Commissioned in 1787 and first lit on January 10, 1791
Where: Formerly part of Portland but now Cape Elizabeth, Maine inside of the Fort Williams Park
A Bright Beginning
Portland was the sixth busiest port ind America during the 1790s, yet there were no lighthouses on the coast of Maine. After the deaths of two people in 1787 in a shipwreck near Portland Head, 74 merchants petitioned the Massachusetts government for one to mark the entrance to Portland Harbor.
The lighthouse was originally designed by Jonathan Bryant and John Nichols. It was supposed to be 58 feet tall, but after discovering the lighthouse would be blocked from the south, they increased the height to 72 feet. Bryant resigned from the work because of the change and Nichols finished the lighthouse in 1791.
After the initial appropriation of $750, there was a delay in construction until the national government took over with an additional $1,500. So for $2,250 the United States has a lighthouse which is still in use 225 years later!
The First Lighthouse Keeper
Captain Joseph Greenleaf was the first appointed lighthouse keeper and a veteran of the American Revolution. In the beginning the only compensation he received was the right to fish and farm in the area and live in the keeper’s house. Within the first year, though, he requested a financial support to compensate for the hardships involved with maintaining the lighthouse. His annual salary? $160.
Christmas Eve Heroism
On Christmas Eve, 1886 the Annie C. Maguire was on its way home to Quebec when she ran ashore on the rocks at Portland Head. The Lighthouse Keepers at the time were the Strout family. There are several accounts of how the Strout family saved the Captain, his wife and son, the the 13 other crewmen. However, the most likely was the use of a ladder stretching over to the ship.
You can still see the rock near the lighthouse with the inscription: “Annie C. Mcguire, shipwrecked here, Christmas Eve 1886.”
To read more about the shipwreck and some funny quotes from one of the Strout sons, visit NE Lights.
Porthead Head Light Lighthouse Decommissioned
The 200th anniversary of the creation of the Lighthouse Service was celebrated the the Portland Head Light on August 7, 1989. This was also the day the lighthouse became automated and Coast Guard keepers were removed. The Coast Guard is still responsible for the light and foghorn, but no one resides there any longer.
Rear Admiral Richard Rybacki, the Coast Guard’s First District commander, said in his address to the crowd, “I can think of nothing more noble. The lighthouse symbolizes all that is good in mankind. We are not here to celebrate an ending. We are here to immortalize a tradition.”
The original tower measured 72′ from base to lantern deck and was lit with 16 whale oil lamps.
Captain Greenleaf reported that during the winters the ice on the lantern glass was often so thick he had to melt it off.
The first Keeper’s Quarters began construction in 1790 as the result of a contract signed by Massachusetts Governor John Hancock.
The current Keepers’ Quarters building was constructed in 1891 as a two story duplex. Until 1989, it was home to the head and assistant lighthouse keepers and their families.
The United States Coast Guard maintains the actual light and the fog signal, but the remainder of the property is managed by the Town of Cape Elizabeth.
For those who miss the ocean, a special treat I recorded…