Jesus, the Escape Master

Updated: Feb 3

In the original Star Wars movie, there was a scene where Obi-wan, Luke, R2D2 and C3PO have cruised into a settlement, only to be stopped and questioned by Stormtroopers who are checking for wanted people & droids.  The script goes like this:

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.

Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don’t need to see his identification.

Stormtrooper: We don’t need to see his identification.

Obi-Wan: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.

Obi-Wan: He can go about his business.

Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.

Obi-Wan: Move along.

Stormtrooper: Move along… move along.

(The video is available on YouTube, between the 3:10 and 3:45 marks)

In that scene, Obi-Wan makes a “small wave of his hand,” and then everything he says is repeated by the Stormtrooper.  That was for theatrical purposes, because a movie audience would not understand if the same scene went like this:

Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.

Stormtrooper: We don’t need to see his identification.

Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.

Stormtrooper: You can go about your business.

Stormtrooper: Move along… move along.

What the scene is actually showing is the supreme powers of a Jedi Knight, where he makes a mental link to the Stormtrooper’s mind and, through the power of mental suggestion, made the Stormtrooper think what Obi-Wan Kenobi was thinking.  If that scene was unfolding in real life (assuming such mental powers do exist), then there probably would not have been any conversation at all.  The group in hiding would have been approached, looked at – mind meld – then separated with an approving motion by the Stromtrooper.

There are actually groups of people who believe this is possible, although not quite as easily as Obi-Wan Kenobi made it work.  Just like a Jedi Knight, however, such mental training would take many years to learn and perfect.

I mention this because there are four occasions where Jesus made such a miraculous escape from harm’s way.  John tells of two escapes made during the time when Jesus was teaching at the Festival of the Tabernacles (or Feast of Booths – Sukkot – the time of harvest).  In chapter 7, verse 30 and again in 44, John wrote (NIV), “they tried to seize him” and “Some wanted to seize him,” but both times he said, “no one laid a hand on him.”  Jesus just walked away.

In chapter 10, verse 39, John stated (NIV), “Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.”  In chapter 8 of John’s Gospel, in verse 59, he wrote, “At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”  How did Jesus “escape their grasp” and how did he “hide himself”?

If it were only John, there might be some reason to question if the translation is difficult to grasp, so that the author was making an interpretation of a scene, which was perhaps reading the minds of the angered ones, with them not really making attempts to physically apprehend Jesus.  However, Luke supports this miraculous escape scenario – from a real and present danger, from rage – by recounting a different event in his Gospel.

In chapter 4, verses 28-30, Luke wrote, “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.  They got up, drove him out of town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.  But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.  Another great escape was made.

Before attempting to explain that Jesus did his version of a Jedi Knight (or Star Trek’s Mr. Spock’s version) mind meld, there are other supernatural things that happened, involving Jesus.  One is him walking on water (which we all remember), when a storm came upon the Sea of Galilee, making the disciples frightened their boat would sink.  As amazing as walking on water is, one has to realize where Jesus walked from to save the day.

In Matthew 14:23 and Mark 6:46-47, we see that Jesus sent the disciple to go to Bethsaida (down the mountainside, on the shore), while Jesus went up on a mountainside to pray.  They had just fed the multitude with 7 loaves and 2 fish, so the disciples probably thought it a good idea to do some fishing (night fishing being best).  Both Gospels say, “later that night, he was there alone,” meaning the boat was on the water and Jesus was on land. 

Mark wrote that Jesus saw them struggling with their oars in the wind and waves.  Jesus saw them on the water at night, from land.  Matthew said, “the boat was already a considerable distance from land,” when Jesus saw them.  It was “later that night” (Mark), “shortly before dawn” (Matthew), when Jesus was seen “walking on the lake.”  There must have been some eyes adjusted to the moonlight, or everyone was aglow, because the disciples thought Jesus was “a ghost.”  Ghosts can walk through walls and on top of water, but they can’t grab sinking people and put them in boats.

Luke wrote a somewhat similar account of the disciples in a boat during a huge wind, which frightened them.  He wrote (Luke 8:23b-24 -NIV), “A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.  The disciples went and woke him (“as they sailed, he fell asleep” – verse 23a), saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”  He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.”

That tells of the same event as recalled by Matthew and Mark, but without making a statement about Jesus walking on the water.  Those two say that Jesus was on land, on the mountainside, praying.  It could be assumed, as it was late in the night, shortly before dawn, that Jesus was asleep, as Luke remembered.  Luke does not say where Jesus slept, so while it is assumed he was in the boat with the disciples, he could just as easily have been on land.  Therefore, Jesus walked across the water and rebuked the stormy conditions from a meditative state on shore.

When we find Peter walking on water, needing to be rescued by Jesus reaching down his hand to save him from drowning, this also matches Luke’s recount of the fear of drowning.  Matthew’s telling of Jesus saving Peter, and how “they climbed into the boat,” it might have meant Jesus saved Peter by mental prayer causing God to send an angel to the rescue, who looked like a ghost.  It is not clear that Jesus was physically on the boat.  Only when the boat landed at Gennesaret did people recognize Jesus, so Jesus either transported himself physically across the lake to the boat; or it appeared he did, but he actually got up just before dawn and walked the land distance of less than 10 miles, meeting them as they came ashore.

The disciples went from Bethsadia to Gennesaret, which is less than 10 miles in a direct line.

The disciples went from Bethsadia to Gennesaret, which is less than 10 miles in a direct line.

Before, I mentioned that John told of that Jesus escaped twice, both in his seventh chapter (verses 33 and 40).  The beginning of chapter 7 tells that Jesus was with the disciples “around Galilee,” but it was time to go to Jerusalem for the “Jewish Festival of Tabernacles.”  John wrote that Jesus wanted to avoid Jerusalem because, “the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him.”  Because of that, Jesus told the disciples to go to Jerusalem, while Jesus “stayed in Galilee.”

There have been some who see Jesus later appearing in Jerusalem, teaching at the Temple (where the attempts to “seize him” failed) as an indication that Jesus lied.  That would not be the case if Jesus did in fact remain physically in Galilee, but project his image mentally.  This would similar to what we know today as a hologram; only this would not have been mechanically created, but divinely manifested.  In the same way that Jesus appeared to walk on water, while greatly effecting nature and causing calm to replace chaos, Jesus sent his image to publically show himself to the Jerusalem world.

While unheard of 2,000 years ago, today's technology makes it commonplace to have someone talk to us from beyond our grasp.

While unheard of 2,000 years ago, today’s technology makes it commonplace to have someone talk to us from beyond our grasp.

John explained that Jesus planned to go all along, just “not publicly, but in secret.” (NIV)  The Greek word written by John, and translated as “publicly,” was phanerós.  That means, “manifestly, openly, clearly, publicly, and evidently,” such that by going as a ghost or divine manifestation would not be physically “evident.”  Further, the Greek word kruptos is translated as secret,” but it can mean, “hidden, inward, concealed and things secret.” 

This explains that Jesus did not sneak into Jerusalem under the cover of darkness or in a disguise; but rather that he used metaphysical or occult ways to appear, and thus avoid capture.  The meaning of the word “occult” simply means, “Hidden from view; concealed; dealing with supernatural influences; beyond the realm of human comprehension; and beyond ordinary human understanding.”

The importance of this understanding of Jesus possessing supernatural powers is that it gives Jesus the unique quality of having the power of God behind him.  He is able to protect others (those he heals, those he feeds, and those who follow him), while also being fully capable of protecting himself (the physical body named Jesus) from harm.  That power within his grasp means his torture and death by crucifixion was through a willing sacrifice of those powers.  Jesus could have escaped the hands of those brought to him by Judas.  He could have walked right through all the guards surrounding Herod and Pilate; but he allowed his body to be killed to prove higher points – resurrection and ascension.

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