Lesson 101

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Kidron, where was a garden, into which he entered, himself and his disciples. 18:2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often resorted there with his disciples. 18:3 Judas then, having taken a detachment of soldiers and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 18:4 Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming on him, went forth, and said to them, "Who are you looking for?"

18:5 They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth."

Jesus said to them, "I AM."

Judas also, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 18:6 When therefore he said to them, "I AM," they went backward, and fell to the ground.

18:7 Again therefore he asked them, "Who are you looking for?"

They said, "Jesus of Nazareth."

18:8 Jesus answered, "I told you that I AM. If therefore you seek me, let these go their way," 18:9 that the word might be fulfilled which he spoke, "Of those whom you have given me, I have lost none."

 Today's Lesson 

With this section, the Gospel of John begins the arrest and trial of Jesus of Nazareth. Following the discussions in the Upper Room, Jesus led His disciples over the brook that was called Kidron to a garden. It was a place where He and the disciples had often been when they desired to get away from the city for a time. It was well known to all of His disciples, even Judas Iscariot. Judas chooses this isolated location to bring the soldiers and officers of the temple to arrest Jesus.


This passage tells us that Jesus knew that these things were about to occur. He does not try to avoid His arrest. He knows "that His time has come." Even when they come out to get Him with torches and weapons, He does not try to flee or hide. Instead, He goes out to meet them. He asks these men that have come for Him, "Who are you looking for?" They answer, calling Him by name, "Jesus of Nazareth."


What occurs next is the purpose of this passage. Jesus answers them, "I AM." As He utters these words, those who have come to arrest Him, "went backward, and fell to the ground." They fall backward by the power of His word. As He utters the Holy Name of God, "I AM", they are driven back uncontrollably.


Why is this told to us, here, only in the Gospel of John? The author wants to make clear that even in the end, as He is being arrested, Jesus is nothing less than the Word made flesh. He is the "I AM." Even though He submits Himself to this arrest, He is nothing less than God incarnate. His very words are powerful. Mere men cannot stand against Him if He desires it so.


But, instead of relying on the power of His words, He submits to this arrest. And, He tells those who have come to arrest Him to spare His disciples, so that prophecy might be fulfilled.


We are so accustomed to the misuse of power. Here is power exercised in control. Here is power that is submissive to love and mercy. If He, but for one moment, desired to be free, freedom was His. But He was willing to set aside His freedom for something of greater value. He was willing to set it aside so that you and I might have access to the Father, so that you and I might find reconciliation.


How are we to respond to such power? To such authority? How are we to respond to the "I Am?"


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