It is remarkable to me that the Gospel writers have preserved for us a record of three separate moments that our Savior was bound by his enemies and led through the streets before his crucifixion.
First, in the garden, John 18:12-13 says “…they arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas…”
Second, in John 18:24 we read “Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.”
Third, after his trial by Caiaphas, Mark 15:1 tells us “…and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate.”
They bound Jesus, the Sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:17), who in those very moments was holding together the threads of the cords that, in all appearances, were holding him. They bound Jesus, whose Spirit gave Samson the power to melt away the ropes that held him (Judges 15:14). They bound Jesus, whose hands broke bread and fed thousands (Mark 8:6), healed a man of leprosy (Matthew 7:3), delivered a boy from an unclean spirit (Mark 9:27), and so much more.
What evil would presume, or even desire, to bind the hands of such a Savior? And yet, he humbled himself completely and, for a brief moment, gave evil men the appearance of victory.
What We See in the Bonds of Jesus
Though I am tempted to move quickly through these verses that bring sorrow to my soul, careful reflection reveals the beauty of our Savoir, even in his unjust humiliation. There is much to see in the bonds of Jesus.
In being bound, Jesus models perfect faith in the Father.
Just like Isaac displayed faith in his father by obediently submitting to being bound by Abraham (Genesis 22:9), Jesus did not resist being bound and led away. He displayed perfect faith in the Father’s plan for him, even though it led him into the throws of darkness.
In being bound, Jesus is declared the perfect sacrifice for sinners.
Jesus has already been declared the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:9), and the Psalms speak of the binding of sacrificial animals (Psalm 118:27). After his arrest, Jesus was led as a silent lamb to slaughter, that would bear the sins of the world. Leviticus describes how the sacrificial animal was to be led to the entrance of the tent of meeting and declared without blemish and acceptable. In a similar way Jesus, our Passover Lamb, is led to the religious leaders for examination. Unaware of the scripture they were fulfilling, Caiaphas the high priest accepts that Jesus should die for many, and Pilate tells the Jewish leaders “I find no guilt in him” (John 18:38).
In being bound, Jesus perfectly submits to his Father’s will, knowing that he judges justly.
Standing bound before his accusers, Jesus remained confident in his future vindication when he said, “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62). He continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly, and submitted to his Father’s will that the scriptures be fulfilled, even though he could have called twelve legions of angels to assist him.
How the Bonds of Jesus Set Us Free
So how is it possible to see beauty in the binding of Jesus? Because of the great work that it accomplished. The binding of Jesus marked the beginning of how he was “delivered over into the hands of men” (Mark 9:30) in order that he may “give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus willingly, for the joy set before him, endured the cross to purchase for us a great salvation, to set the captives free. He has gone before us, and through his humble act of obedience, we are credited with his perfect record of righteousness and freed from the powers that bind us.
Consider for those who have been saved through faith:
We were bound to the power of sin (Romans 6:14).
But Jesus, coming to open the prison to those who are captive (Isaiah 61:1), released us from the power of sin by carrying us into his death, giving us a new heart, placing his Spirit within us, and by his grace causing us to delight in his statues and obey him.
We were bound to the law (Romans 7:1).
But Jesus, in dying for us, frees us from the bond of the law so that we might belong to him and live under the new way of the Spirit (Romans 7:6).
We were bound to the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15).
But Jesus, in partaking of death in a human body and then physically rising again, showed his children that we have nothing to fear in dying. The uncertainty of death, and what will happen to our souls, has been taken away. As believers, we can have confidence when the time of our death comes that Jesus has already said to us “Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
We were bound to the dominion of Satan (Colossians 1:13).
But Jesus has opened our eyes so we may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that we may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in him (Acts 26:18). Through his obedience to the Father, which included submitting to being bound by sinful men, Jesus ultimately binds the devil and plunders his house (Mark 3:27).
What a profound and beautiful mystery, this wonderful work of atonement. The unspeakable price required for my salvation, which I could never ask of my Lord that I love, has been willingly paid. I feel the rage that must have filled Peter in the garden of Gethsemane, as he sought to fight off those who would bind up the blessed hands of our Lord.
What a terrible, necessary, travesty we see in the treatment of Jesus. How it makes us weep over sin, how it makes us sing of his love, and how it makes us bow our knees before the risen Lamb who was slain. He is worthy of all praise!