Holy Week 2014 – Devotion 3 – A Speira of Roman Soldiers


So Judas brought a detachment of Roman soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. – John 18:3

During the age of the Judges, the Midianite army, a formidable force of 120,000 soldiers, occupied Israel and terrorized the Hebrew people.  God chose Gideon to free the people of Israel from the Midianites.  Gideon gathered a force of 32,000 soldiers to challenge the Midianite army.  But God told Gideon, “You have too many men.”  (Judges 7:4).  God ordered Gideon to reduce his force to 300 men; and with just 300 men against an army of thousands, Gideon routed the Midianites and pushed them back across the border.

Gideon faced impossible odds.  His tiny army prevailed over the Midianites only because God chose to deliver the people of Israel out of their bondage.  (Judges 7:2).  “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord.”  (Zechariah 4:7).

Judas arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane with a “detachment” of soldiers.  The Greek word is speira.  A speira of Roman soldiers was anywhere from 200 to 1,000 men — a formidable force.  The Jewish authorities did not send merely a few cops to accompany Judas on his trip to find Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Instead, they left nothing to chance:  they sent a battalion of soldiers to arrest Jesus.  Jesus faced impossible odds.  His capture at the hands of a speira of Roman soldiers was the first in a series of awful events that led to his death on a cross.  His death, however, was not the end of the story.  Easter follows Good Friday.

We, too, may face impossible odds.  There may be days when the burdens of life leave us feeling outnumbered, outmanned, or outgunned.  God’s promise, though, is that we do not walk alone.  Sin and death can never defeat us.  God has delivered us out of our bondage.  Draw near to God.  Be still.  Arise.

Lord, we know that sometimes life is hard.  We cannot manage by our own might or power.  We cannot manage alone.  Thank you that you walk with us.  Amen.


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