Lanterns and Weapons (Read: John 18:1-14)

By: Pastor Jarren Rogers

The arrest of Jesus. The first in a great sequence of events that will lead to the death of Christ.

John’s account of the arrest differs slightly from the other Gospels. In John, there is no description of Judas’s kiss to identify Christ, rather Jesus introduces Himself. Also, whenever Peter draws a sword and cuts off the ear of a priest’s servant, John doesn’t tell us about Christ miraculously healing it.

It seems as if John simply leaves out different details rather then tell the story differently. However, one thing that is unique to John is what the angry mob is carrying.

When this group of soldiers comes to arrest Jesus, the other Gospels say they were carrying “swords and clubs”.

But John makes it a point to say that they were “there with lanterns and torches and weapons.”

It makes no real difference, but I thought it was interesting.

The people in John’s account are carrying two light-emitting objects–torches and lanterns–and also weapons.

As I reflected upon this seemingly asinine detail, I thought about the fact that many modern-day Christians are holding the same thing as the crowd.

We are called to carry the light of Christ to the masses. We are to glow in the darkness of the world, letting the light of the Gospel shine bright from our actions, words, and deeds. We must share the Gospel with others, illuminating their lives with the truth regarding Jesus Christ. We are to help the poor and the needy, all with the goal of being candles in a dim and broken reality.

And so we hold our lanterns and our torches wherever we go.

But in our other hands we hold weapons. We gossip and tear down others. We seek revenge and hate our neighbors. If our enemy strikes off our ear, we strike them back.

We attempt to carry our lanterns and our weapons into our daily lives.

But unlike the crowd in John 18, if we’re honest, we can never carry both. Being the light that Christ is calling us to be requires us to set aside our weapons–to love our enemies and forgive our neighbor, to build each other up and pray for those who persecute us.

Each day you have a choice: to pick up your lantern or grab your weapon.

You can’t have both.

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