The scene in John 18 is like something out of a Marvel movie. Every time I enter the setting in my mind’s eye, it moves me to my core. Jesus was praying in the Garden across the
Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. His disciples were there as He was agonizing over the suffering that awaited Him.
Enter the traitor, Judas, who led in a thunderous band of soldiers, likely hundreds of the fighting elite, carrying weapons and torches alongside officers and Pharisees. Jesus knew what was happening. He stepped out from the shadows to meet them and asked the question:
“Who is it that you’re looking for?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am He.”
When Jesus said this, everyone coming to accuse him, the Pharisees, the officers, the fighting elite, drew back and fell to the ground! Think about it. As if Thor had raised his hammer and by the sheer energy of his declaration, they crumbled to the dust.
A little closer look at the original text and we realize that the English translators added “He” to Jesus’ answer. Jesus’ reply was “I AM.” He was declaring that the same I AM who met Moses in the burning bush and the same I AM who is the Alpha and Omega in Revelation stands before you now.
The soldiers couldn’t stand under the weight of His glory, His kabod. The mention of His name, the weight of His glory, put them on the ground.
Then as the bewildered accusers dusted themselves off, Jesus asked them again who they were looking for and when they said, “Jesus of Nazareth” He said, “I told you that [I AM]. So, if you seek me, let these men go.”
In this very moment, we see the unrelenting love of our God. He stepped out and said, “Take Me.... Me, not them. Let my friends go.” The Almighty God of the universe, the “I AM that I AM,” willingly laid down His life for ours, taking the punishment for our sin.
But the story doesn’t end there. Three days later, just like those soldiers crumbled in the garden when they heard “I AM,” death, hell and the grave crumbled before Him, too. The empty tomb told the world who alone sits above it all. Jesus, once and for all, declared, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”
By Michael Neale, Senior Worship Pastor
at Prestonwood Baptist Church