I have been starving myself lately, finding it difficult to sink into God's word. Today I settled back in, and God gave me something cool to think about. Things stick better for me if I write and tell, so here we go.
I've been reading through John over and over again, particularly all the things Jesus said during his last Passover. In the High Priestly Prayer, John 17, he prays, basically, that his people in the world would be protected from Satan and sanctified by truth so the world can see Jesus and his love. It's called "priestly" because he's asking God to connect us to God through Jesus himself. He even prays specifically for us. "I do not ask for these only [disciples], but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me." (17:20-21). Of course, I love that because I love any time that the Bible so directly speaks to us who are out here in the future. We were always a part of Jesus' plan! Always belonging to him, long, long before we were born.
I love John for lots of reasons, but one is that John was a very creative writer who uses lots of literary devices (most of which I cannot understand) and a strong sense of place. Right after the High Priestly Prayer, John writes, "When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered." Then we hear the story of Judas' betrayal.
I got interested in the Brook Kidron and learned that another important scene of betrayal happened there. David flees through there and goes up to the Mount of Olives when Absalom betrays him!! (David is this type of Christ but at the same time filled with sin. He kind of deserved the betrayal of Absalom, or at least his sin contributed to it.) So David is up there in this craggy valley of the Kidron headed up the Mount of Olives and explains to Zadok the priest that he should take the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem when he says: "carry the Ark of God back back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, he will bring me back and let me see both it and his dwelling place. But if he says, 'I have no pleasure in you,' behold, here I am, let him do to me what seems good to him."
John does not include it, but it’s on the Mount of Olives, before Judas comes, that Jesus prays “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42). Both men in the face of betrayal totally entrusted themselves to God. I don’t know if John wanted his readers to think of King David, maybe not because I think he wasn’t primarily writing to Jews. But, the connection is there nonetheless. What I think is really cool is that God did have pleasure in David; He loved David and restored him. God also had pleasure in his Son (“This is my Son whom I love. With Him I am well-pleased.” ) But in Jesus’ case, the one who did not do anything to earn betrayal, God removed his pleasure and let the betrayer have success (something Absalom did not ultimately have).
Jesus explained many times why he had to do the hard thing, and one of those times was as he prayed the High Priestly Prayer: “And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” The reason I like this connection over the Valley of Kidron so much is the way it ties past, present, and future all together in this scene of Jesus betrayal (and perfect faithfulness). David’s sins were paid for by Jesus in the very place where David suffered for the sin too. And just before Jesus went there to the Mount of Olives, he was praying for his disciples but also for us here in the future!
My takeaway in all this is to see the greatest struggles and betrayals of my life in light of my spiritual ancestor, David, and my Savior, Jesus, both crossing the Brook of Kidron. Jesus’ prayer for us in that intense time was that we would all be one with him.
I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. John 17:23-24
In the historical books of the Old Testament, the Valley of Kidron was also a place where idols were left and destroyed. The world is filled with our troubles and all manner of devastation from large scale to deeply individual and personal. All those troubles find their root in the sin of displacing God with idols, with choosing our own way over his. Often what starts as small and personal, or familial, grows to hurt lots of people- like the turmoil in Jerusalem because of David and Absalom. We can do two things: dump the idols and entrust ourselves to God. David did. Jesus did. And so shall I. “Let him do to me what seems good to him.” It’s the safest scary prayer you can pray. But, praise God, it leads to our oneness with Him!