After Jesus prayed He and the disciples went to the Garden at Gethsemane where He often spent time alone with them. Because of that, Judas knew the place well and it was one of the places he expected Jesus might be. Verses 3-5 describe what happened next.
“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. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.”
Imagine Judas and the group with him made up of officers of the chief priests and Pharisees, servants and a group of Roman soldiers. Some carried weapons, others carried lanterns and torches. They were hunting for Jesus. They were ready for a fight. They might have even hoped Jesus would resist them. They were fired up with adrenaline over their all-important mission to finally capture Jesus and have Him killed. But it was Jesus who showed Himself to them and said, “Whom do you seek?”
Now also imagine the disciples, Jesus had told them this was coming but, here it was, now their beloved teacher had so often before escaped arrest and death. It was clear this time that wouldn’t be the case. And to top it off, one of their best friends was standing with the officers and soldiers. Judas who had fed the five thousand with them, followed Jesus, watched as Jesus opened blind eyes and healed lepers, and been there as He called Lazarus out of his tomb, was with the mob! It must have been overwhelming and incomprehensible to them. That was a lot of pain to handle right then.
Verses 6-9 continue the narrative.
“When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 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.”
When Jesus answered them, He not only said, “I’m the man you are looking for, He said, “I am he.” He pronounced His name, I Am. He spoke the most exalted and perfect name of God, His name and confirmed as well His identify as the man from Nazareth the lowliest of towns. When He spoke His name and pronounced God, the officers and soldiers rather than step forward to arrest Him, stepped back and fell to the ground. They were incapable of action. They couldn’t arrest Jesus without His permission. It had to be God’s will and not theirs that brought about the crucifixion. Judas had been paid to reveal Jesus, but Jesus revealed Himself. The soldiers were prepared to take Jesus by force and Jesus offered Himself.
But the disciples although shocked and sick with dismay were capable of action and Peter took advantage of the moment to try and rescue Jesus from His fate. Verses 10-11 read,
“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Jesus also had to enforce the Father’s will with His followers. He had to tell Peter to stop and put the weapon away and not to resist because this was the Father’s desire. In Luke we are told that Jesus even healed the servant’s ear. (Luke 22:51). Fighting God’s will is never good for us and often unfruitful. Of all the men there, Peter aimed his weapon at a servant who probably couldn’t fight back all too well. And Jesus healed Malchus. It was as if Peter had not done anything at all. Had Peter drawn the sword against a priest, Pharisee or soldier, he would have been arrested along with Jesus. But even in Peter’s misguided resistance, God protected Him and His will carried on.
Verses 12-14 tell what happened next.
“So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.”
Jesus was not arrested and killed against His will. He gave His life. He had ample opportunity to change His mind and choose not to suffer the cross. His love for the Father and for us was too great to let Him be selfish. When the soldiers searched for Him, He could have remained hidden. He had done it before. When the band was immobilized on the ground, He could have walked away and lived. When Peter drew his sword to fight, Jesus could have allowed it and won His freedom that way. But instead, He freely gave Himself so that we could know Him and have life and freedom instead.
Jesus chose the cross so that we could have salvation. If you are reading this and you don’t know what salvation is, ask me. I will be happy to explain the awesome beauty of the cross and what it means for you.
Believer, consider that Jesus life was not taken from Him but given to you. Honor Him, glorify Him, and Praise Him by living that life in a manner worthy of Jesus.