Read John 18
His hour had come. His teaching was done. Now it was time for the arrest.
The disciples had followed Jesus across the Kidron Valley, which is something of a wadi, and stopped in a group of olive trees, presumably what elsewhere is called the Mount of Olives.
We don’t see the interaction between Jesus and his disciples here. We don’t see him praying in sorrow and anguish and those closest to him falling asleep. What we do see is Judas guiding some officials from the Chief Priest and Pharisees. They brought some armed soldiers.
The disciples did have a couple of swords. You have to look to Luke’s gospel to get this tidbit and they were not for defending Jesus on this night. For inquiring minds who want to know, in this case know the logistics, the disciples had swords and later on Peter would use one.
Jesus knew what was about to happen and he did not prolong the encounter. The armed group approached and Jesus asked: “Who is it that you want?” In modern vernacular, he would have said, “Who you looking for?’
Jesus may have healed on the Sabbath but I just can’t see him ending a sentence with a preposition. This is 2020, so I am required to announce, that the last statement was tongue-in-cheek.
The group noted they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, “I am he.”
Jesus didn’t draw a sword. He did not call upon 12 legions of angels. He spoke the words I am. We have experienced seven I am metaphors in John’s gospel, but this I am is the self-identifying voice of God.
At the mention of these two simple words, the guards withdrew and fell backwards. Two words conveyed more power and authority than this group brought with them.
Did you ever see the video on Facebook or YouTube or whatever else exists out there of the road rage? It’s a staged video and intentionally so, not like so many others purporting to be actual events.
In this video, the two vehicles have pulled over to the side of the road and the man in the trail vehicle gets out and grips a tire iron and starts walking toward the front vehicle with angry intent. The man in the first vehicle gets out with a .44 Magnum.
Immediately, the man with the tire iron starts doing the blind man act with this war stick. They say don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Well, a tire iron doesn’t work much better. It’s a funny video and makes a good comparison.
It didn’t matter how many soldiers or weapons the arresting party brought with them; they were no match for two words: I am.
Jesus could have ended the whole affair in that moment, but he did not. He asked them again who they wanted. Again, they said Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus said I am he. It was as if to say, Here I am guys. Let’s get this show on the road.
We need to understand that Jesus was not overcome by armed guards. He surrendered fully to his Father’s will and the purpose for which he was sent.
Jesus said that they came for him so leave the others alone. Do remember that Jesus just affirmed to his heavenly Father that he had lost none of those men given to him, except the one who had to betray him, and just happened to be the one who guided this armed party to him?
Jesus said take me and leave them alone. None of them would be lost. They were to be sent into the world.
Peter, who would very soon deny Jesus three times, took one of the swords and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant named Malchus. Peter hacked of an ear from an unarmed man. Peter was still governed by the flesh.
Jesus told him and us, that nothing would get in the way of his mission. “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
As we wrap up this section, we find the servant missing his right ear, but in Luke’s gospel, Jesus heals the servant. Luke’s gospel also does not name the disciple who cut off the servant’s ear.
These are some interesting tidbits for your continued study, but as we conclude this section, know this.
1. Jesus would complete his mission. In two words he could have dispatched anyone who would confront him, but he would do just what he was sent to do. More on this when Jesus stands before Pilate.
2. Peter was still wrestling with the flesh. Peter and his sword would take on the world, a world that Jesus told him he had already overcome. Do you ever wonder why Jesus picked Peter to follow him? Perhaps, it is so we could see our humanity and wrestling matches with the flesh on full display in the gospels.
We still wrestle with the flesh like Peter, but we must know and take heart that Jesus has already overcome everything that we wrestle with now.
Jesus knew what was ahead of him. His hour had come and though he had the power to stop what was ahead of him, it was for this very purpose that he came.