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Faith & Works - John 18



This week we continue our study of the Gospel of John in chapter 18.  Jesus and his disciples had just finished the last supper and they traveled to a garden in which they used to visit often.  Judas, who had left earlier in the meal, gathered up some soldiers and took them to the garden to arrest Jesus.  When they arrived, Jesus met them and offered himself up in peace.  Peter attacked and cut off one of the soldiers ears, but Jesus rebuked him and insisted that he would go in peace.  The soldiers took him to the High Priests' Father in Law to be questioned, and then to the High Priest, and finally to the Roman governor Pilate.  Peter and another disciple followed along, and just as Jesus had predicted during the last supper, Peter denied he knew Jesus three times before the rooster called out to the new day.  After questioning Jesus, Pilate was not convinced that Jesus had done anything deserving death, so he offered to free either Jesus or a notorious criminal named Barabbas.  The crowd cried out for Barabbas' freedom, leaving Pilate with a difficult situation as the chapter came to a close.  

As I studied this chapter this week I found myself struck by the different types of radical faith on display here.  Judas demonstrated radical faith in his own judgement of Jesus, betraying his teacher and friends.  Peter had radical faith when he attacked the soldiers, demonstrating a willingness to die for his teacher and friends.  Jesus demonstrated radical faith in the plan, with his willingness to go peacefully.  The religious leaders and High Priest demonstrated great faith in their judgment and their traditions to sentence a man to death for teaching something different.  

On the other hand we also have a couple examples of a lack of faith.  Judas lost faith in his teacher.  Peter lacked faith when he denied knowing Jesus.  Pilate lacked faith in the judgement of the religious leaders, and wondered what to do with Jesus.  

With such a variety of examples of faith, I find myself noticing that our walk with God is not simply about faith.  These examples point out that sometimes faith is in the right things, and sometimes it is in the wrong things.  The religious leaders faith in their judgement and traditions led them astray, while Jesus' faith in God and the plan led him to go peacefully.  

At the same time, it is not enough for the object of our faith to be correct.  Peter's faith in Jesus led him to cut off a soldier's ear, but Jesus rebuked him for this.  The object of Peter's faith was spot on, but his method was all wrong.  

Christians often repeat the phrase "Saved by Faith Alone!" but this phrase only appears once in the Bible.  
It is in James 2:4.  It does not support this common saying, instead it reads:

“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (ESV)

Our walk with God is not just about the thoughts in our head, but what we embody, and how we embody the values of Jesus.  We have to get both the object and the method of faith right.  In Ephesians 2:8, Paul told us that our salvation was a gift, a grace given to us by God, but never that our actions don't matter. 

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,"

God, help us to know that we are saved and that our salvation is a gift and a grace that is not in question.  With that security of that faith let us then press into the method of acting out our faith, so that our actions align with the grace you have given us.  Teach us and mold us into the image of Christ until we have both the right object and method of faith.  Amen.  

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