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Courage and Bravery

Briefing: Do you have a favorite “guy movie”? A “guy movie” is an action movie where the main character displays the kind of bravery and courage we all aspire to have.

Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 18:1-11.

On the Street: We had an officer retire several years ago whose wife was asked to characterize her husband. She said, “He was a high school football hero, he fought and was wounded in Viet Nam, he is a cop’s cop and a man’s man. He lived his life like John Wayne.” I believe this is how most of us would like to be remembered. Let me just say, I am a John Wayne fan, but John Wayne was no Jesus Christ. There has never been, or ever will be, a man as brave and courageous as Jesus.

This is the account of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. We often focus on Judas’ part in this event but I want to point out what I see as the more important component. The Pharisees have been looking for a way to arrest Jesus for a couple of years. They finally get Judas to show them how to arrest Jesus when He is alone.

So far, Jesus had been considered a nuisance by the Pharisees but had done nothing deserving of death. He had not broken any laws or committed any crimes. It seems every action the Pharisees took, concerning Jesus, was “overkill”. Verse three is a perfect example of this. “So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” John 18:3 (NIV).

What would this look like if it were in today’s time? A “detachment of soldiers” was considered to be about 200 soldiers. Let consider this to be the equivalent of a couple of large SWAT teams. The verse says they are carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. This group was equipped. Back to our SWAT team, picture them in full Kevlar with AR-15s at the ready. This group also included, “officials from the chief priests and Pharisees”. This would be similar to investigators from the DA’s office and high ranking city officials. There would be no doubt this was an official, fully authorized action by the local authorities.

My question is why? A law enforcement officer knows we only use the force necessary to affect an arrest. This principle applies to all uses of force on the force continuum. The first level of force on the force continuum is officer presence. You don’t take 200 soldiers to arrest a religious leader. Even though Jesus had 12 disciples with Him, they had never been violent or threatening. This was another example of overkill on the part of the Pharisees.

When this SWAT team confronts Jesus, He does something that would make Hollywood producers drool with envy. Jesus does not wait for them to come find Him. “Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” John 18:4 (NIV). Jesus goes on to say, “I told you that I am He,” Jesus answered, “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” John 18:8 (NIV).

This is the most courageous thing a leader can for His followers. He steps up and says, take me but let my disciples go, and they did.

Jesus’ life is an example for us to follow. Most people are aware that Jesus loved well and expects us to follow His example. He was a leader that served people well and requires us to follow this example. Had you ever considered that He was a man of great courage and bravery and expects us to model this characteristic also?

Investigational Resources: God has calls us to be courageous. Deuteronomy 31:6-7, Joshua 1:6-9, 1 Chronicles 22:13, 28:20, 2 Chronicles 32:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:13 are all passages where we are called to have courage and to be courageous.

Officer Safety Principle: In 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV) Paul tells us, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”

from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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