2010-07-29 - Control
Originally Published 1996-04-25
John 18:3-6 Judas then, having received the <Roman> cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that where coming upon Him, went forth, and said to them, "Whom do you seek?" 5 They answered Him, "Jesus the Nazarene." He said to them, "I am <He>." And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 When therefore He said to them, "I am <He>," they drew back and fell to the ground. (NASB)
In this passage, we have what would appear from a human standpoint to be a very one-sided confrontation. A Roman cohort contained 300-600 men, plus temple guards for good measure, all coming to arrest Jesus. Jesus has been suffering under such stress that the capillaries in various parts of his body have burst. One physically weakened man against 300+ trained soldiers. The odds-makers would have a hard time coming up with numbers big enough, I suspect. Note that the word "He" in "I am He" is supplied by the translator. It is not in the original text, but provided for clarity. I present an alternative that the word was never there or spoken. Jesus was simply speaking His name, as He identified Himself to Moses in the burning bush, I AM.
Picture the sight: The twelve disciples are looking at insurmountable odds, and in fear for their lives. Still they are staying because Jesus is standing so calmly. The soldiers probably feel a little silly, 300+ to 1, but dutifully they comply. Jesus speaks His mighty name, and His adversaries' pawns go over like bowling pins. The disciples blink as they witness Jesus showing them and His opponents that He is in total control of the events. The soldiers come to their senses, finding lanterns spilt and flames from dropped torches licking their garments.
The odds-makers would have gone broke. It is only as Jesus consents to be taken -- only after His name is spoken a second time and the cohort winces in anticipation for the blow that does not come -- that they lead Him away. Jesus was simply bowing to the will of the Father, and the plan laid down in eternity past that would free us for His glory. Amen.
Grace & Peace,