Not By Constraint, But By Consent

John 18:7-11
Main Verse: John 18:11
by Brian Phillips

In these verses we have an example of how we are to respond to maltreatment.

You’d think the hearts of these men would have changed when they came face-to-face with Jesus.  When they confronted him, he says, “I am he,” and they fell backward to the ground—demonstrating the power of his words.  Rather than summoning 72,000 angels to come to his rescue (Matthew 26:53), Jesus lets himself be taken—demonstrating restraint in favor of divine purpose.  And, after Peter so hotheadedly cuts off the ear of the servant, Jesus reaches over and heals it (Luke 22:51)—demonstrating compassion even toward his enemies.

He confided in Judas, knowing he would later betray him.  He controlled the very surroundings in which he was taken captive.  He commands, not requests, that the crowd let the disciples go.

In short, Jesus surrenders, not by constraint, but by consent.

He has given us an example to live by.  There will be times when we are unfairly treated for what we believe.  Are we to defend ourselves?  Maybe.  But, had Peter successfully done so, and landed his blow on the head of the servant, all the disciples might have been taken captive.  And the Great Commission to share the Gospel with the world would have fallen on no one’s ears.

Likewise, our calling might be one of meekness in the face of persecution.  If our cause is Christ, and our call is clear, our tamed response might provoke one of wonder from those who seek to injure us.

Food for Thought
In the movie “The Green Mile,” there is a prison in which a green stripe is painted down the corridor of death row.  It leads the prisoners to the electric chair, where they will be executed.  Thus the name “Green Mile.”

One day, a unique prisoner is taken captive.  His name is John Coffey.  He is huge!  Had he so desired, no one could have forced him into his cell.  Even though John is innocent, he enters without a struggle.

He also has a gift.  He can take on a person’s illness, then release it into the air.

He breathes life into a prisoner’s pet mouse, he cures a guard of his urinary infection, and he heals the warden’s wife of her brain tumor.  And, though innocent, he never fights against the injustice that has been meted out on him.

In the end, John is put to death by the very guards who grow to love him.

So What Now?
Consider exercising restraint next time someone attacks you for what you believe.  Let God draw them to Christ through your demonstration of love over revenge.

Lord, empower me to love those who don’t act lovingly toward me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


  1. There were other times when Jesus slipped away when the crowds attempted to seize him.  Why do you think he chose this time to allow himself to be captured?
  2. Why do you think Peter was so brave immediately after Jesus’ display of power, but cowered after Jesus was arrested?
  3. How do you react when someone viciously challenges the way you believe?

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