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|Posted on July 26, 2016 at 11:10 AM||comments (0)|
John 18:1 (ESV) When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.
After Jesus had prayed for the apostles as their High Priest, He led them to a garden where they often prayed.
Baker’s Bible Atlas
Gethsemane was the name of a garden across the Kidron Valley, east of the Temple area, at the foot of the mount of Olives.
Jesus shared this most intimate place, the place where He was vulnerable and exposed in prayer to His Father with His closest disciples. Jesus did not have a home of His own, so this garden may have been His place of safety and strength. However, on this night, the Garden of Gethsemane would be a place of agonizing prayer as recorded in the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They all record these heart-wrenching moments. Jesus was so troubled in His humanness that His sweat was like drops of blood. He prayed asking the Father, “If it be Your will, let this cup pass from me.” By “this cup” He referred to not only His death on the cross but also the receiving onto Himself the burden of the sin He was dying for. His final conclusion was, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” (Mark 14:36) And what were His closest disciples, even Peter, James, and John doing while Jesus fought the battle of His earthly life in prayer? They were sleeping! Even after He had told them to watch and pray. Jesus had asked His closest brothers to watch and pray for Him, but they let slumber overtake them and could not be there for Him in this most crucial time of need (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22).
John 18:2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples.
Judas had a good idea where Jesus and the apostles would be, so it must have been customary for them to go to the garden after the feast meals. Judas had probably even prayed with Jesus and the others there many times. I find it sad that Judas would betray Jesus in a place of prayer. That shows that his heart had become seared because nothing was sacred anymore, if it ever had been.
John 18:3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Judas led a group of Roman soldiers (perhaps as many as 200 to 600!) and Temple police sent by the religious leaders. They approached fully armed and carrying torches as if to apprehend a violent criminal. Do you think Judas thought Jesus and the disciples would put up a fight, or do you think the Chief Priests and Pharisees were the ones who feared resistance? Most likely, the people with weapons were sent by the Chief Priests and Pharisees because they were the ones who thought of Jesus as leading a rebellion. They thought He was an interloper trying to crowd in on their territory as leaders of Israel. They feared His leadership would disrupt their comfy way of life, or ruin it all together. Also, they had probably told the Romans that Jesus was attempting to overthrow the government and declare Himself king. They thought they were preventing a coup.
John 18:4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”
Jesus already knew whom they sought and what their intentions were, but He courageously stepped forward and asked them. Jesus did not flee, but He also made them acknowledge who they wanted. He forced them to admit their intentions by His question.
John 18:5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.
The officers replied that they were seeking Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus was a common name, so they were being specific). The other gospels describe how Judas betrayed Jesus by kissing Him in greeting (Matthew 26:48-49, Mark 14:44-45, Luke 22:47-48). A kiss on both cheeks was the most intimate display of affection between men. John simply says that Judas was standing right there as Jesus said, “I am He.” By making the men admit that they were specifically seeking Him, Jesus was reminding them they had no authority to arrest the disciples. Jesus was ensuring that for the moment, the disciples would be safe. He was protecting His own.
John 18:6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
The Jewish officers would have recognized Jesus use of “I am” as a declaration of His deity. This was the name God had given to identify Himself to Moses. Whether they were simply awestruck by Jesus’ calm demeanor and this declaration or were supernaturally overpowered, the word does not make clear. But either way, the power of God caused them to fall to the ground!
John 18:7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
As they were picking themselves up off the ground, Jesus ask them again whom they had come after. If I had been a soldier, I would have just remained mute at that point. I would have been afraid to answer Him again! I wouldn’t have wanted to be knocked down again. Rather embarrassing, yes. But they did acknowledge once more that He was the only one they were seeking.
John 18:8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”
Jesus again told them that He was the one they wanted, and urged them to let the disciples go free. Since He was the one they were sent to arrest, they should have no need to arrest His students. In modern terminology they had a warrant for Jesus’ arrest only, so it would be illegal to take the others. In John 17:12, Jesus had prophetically prayed to the Father that He had not lost any of the disciples except Judas who was the betrayer.
Q – Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Has someone reveal something you said in confidence? Can you imagine how hurt Jesus must have been when Judas betrayed Him with a kiss, of all things? Do we sometimes betray Jesus again when we declare that we belong to Him but refuse to live as He has commanded us to live? Do we profess with our lips when we do not truly trust with our lives? Lord, please infuse us with the power of Your Holy Spirit to be able to live out what You have placed within us!