John – God Speaks!
RECAP: Jesus’ “I AM” statements would have particular significance to the first-century Jewish listener. God had revealed Himself to Moses with a resounding “I AM” (Ex. 3:14). Jesus used the same words to describe Himself.
Throughout the gospel written by John, “the beloved disciple”, we learn several I AM statements by Jesus:
“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35, 41, 48, 51) As bread sustains physical life, so Christ offers and sustains spiritual life.
“I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) To a world lost in darkness, Christ offers Himself as a guide.
“I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7,9) Jesus protects His followers as shepherds protect their flocks from predators.
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) Death is not the final word for those in Christ.
“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11, 14) Jesus is committed to caring and watching over those who are His.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Jesus is the source of all truth and knowledge about God.
“I am the true vine.” (John 15:1, 5) By attaching ourselves to Christ, we enable His life to flow in and through us. Then we cannot help but bear fruit that will honor the Father.
Now, Jesus will complete the mission God sent Him to do. The final details of the mission begins with a betrayal kiss from Judas. What stands out to me today is how John records Jesus’ response to his attackers as they arrest Him in the garden. “I am he.” As Jesus said these words, “they all fell back, to the ground”.
Why did the arresting soldiers draw back and fall to the ground when Jesus told them, “I am he”? The Jews present would be struck by His “I am” statement, an affirmation of deity. The Romans, who were in the majority, would be struck by His bearing, for it was obvious that He was in command. It was an emotionally charged situation, and we do not know what Judas had told them about Jesus to help prepare them for this confrontation. The Jewish leaders had tried to have Jesus arrested before and always without success. The band was prepared for conflict, and when they met with surrender and calm, they were overwhelmed.
Jesus is I AM. Jesus is the Son of God. I AM will be and is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. Hold this thought as we finish and meditate on the final pages of John’s writings. John writes with an abundance of symbolism, don’t miss it!
John 18, New Living Translation
Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. 2 Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. 3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”
10 Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. 11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
Jesus at the High Priest’s House
12 So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up. 13 First they took him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
–Jesus is I AM, God in human form. He steps forward to complete what God assigned Him to do.
—THE KISS: Disciples greeted a rabbi by kissing him; it was a sign of devotion and obedience. But Judas was not truly a disciple of Jesus Christ, though he belonged to the disciple band. In the garden, Judas stood with the enemy, not with Jesus’ friends!
When people today pretend to know and love the Lord, they are committing the sin of Judas. It is bad enough to betray Christ, but to do it with a kiss, a sign of affection, is the basest treachery of all. It was born in the pit of hell.
—THE SWORD: Peter’s sword symbolizes rebellion against the will of God. Peter should have known that Jesus would be arrested and that He would willingly surrender to His enemies (Matt. 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:17–19). Peter made every mistake possible! He fought the wrong enemy, used the wrong weapon, had the wrong motive, and accomplished the wrong result!
Keep in mind that this miracle reveals His grace toward us. If Jesus had the power to stun an armed mob and heal a severed ear, He could have saved Himself from arrest, trial, and death. But He willingly submitted! And He did it for us!
It is a sad thing when well-meaning but ignorant Christians take up the sword to “defend” the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter hurt Malchus, something no believer should do. Peter hurt the testimony of Christ and gave the false impression that His disciples hate their enemies and try to destroy them. (Note our Lord’s reply to Pilate in John 18:36.)
—THE CUP: Peter had a sword in his hand, but our Lord had a cup in His hand. Peter was resisting God’s will but the Savior was accepting God’s will. “I am he.”
The cup represented the suffering He would endure and the separation from the Father that He would experience on the cross. His holy soul must have been stirred to the depths when He contemplated being made sin!
To “drink the cup” means to go through with a difficult experience, and “not my cup of tea” means saying no to a certain course of action. The fact that some trophies are designed like cups suggests that winners have been through demanding experiences and had to “swallow a lot.”
Jesus was able to accept the cup because it was mixed by the Father and given to Him from the Father’s hand. He did not resist the Father’s will, because He came to do the Father’s will and finish the work the Father gave Him to do.
This is a good lesson to us: we need never fear the cups that the Father hands to us. To begin with, our Savior has already drunk the cup before us, and we are only following in His steps.
We need never fear what is in the cup because the Father has prepared it for us in love. If we ask for bread, He will never give us a stone, and the cup He prepares will never contain anything that will harm us. We may suffer pain and heartbreak, but He will eventually transform that suffering into glory.
I AM saved all who believe in Him. What a blessed thought that I AM is with us today. I AM is still our Bread of life, Light in the darkness, Protector, Provider, the Way, and the Truth that guides us to Life eternal with Him!
No, death is not the final word for those in Christ!
What do we do what we do?
Are we tenaciously attached to I AM?
Do we humbly ask what God wants daily? Then obey?
Am I with I AM?
Dear Heavenly Father,
There is so much to learn and grow on today. Thank you for continually opening up our eyes and ears to see and hear you, to fall down before you when we realize we are talking to the great I AM! thank you for saving my soul. Thank you for consistent transformation of heart and mind. What do you want from me today? Where can I join you in Your work? Reveal yourself to me today. Help me to know that I AM, YOU, are always with me.
In Jesus Name, Amen