March 19 | John 18:1-11
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by Mary Alice McGinnis
In today’s reading, Jesus’ disciple, Judas, leads a squadron to Jesus’ secret place, the garden of Gethsemane, in order to betray Him. They came well prepared, with a band of soldiers armed with torches, lanterns, and weapons. In addition, their intention was to use the element of surprise to capture Jesus.
When you think about it, didn’t it seem like a bit of an overkill? They would have easily outnumbered and overpowered Jesus and his eleven followers. Jesus was never known for violence, and this was a remote place, without the normal mob of people that typically surrounded Him.
What do you suppose had them so worked up to cause this overt overreaction?
Jesus was NOT SURPRISED by any of this. John says, He knew “ALL that was going to happen to Him!”
But, Jesus turns the tables of SURPRISE on them!
Instead of escaping or hiding, Jesus WENT OUT TO them. He takes Himself right into the line of fire and asks them directly, “Who is it that you seek?”
When they respond, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus is not surprised.
Jesus replies with a powerful declaration, literally saying, “I AM!” (The original language does not include the word “HE.”)
As we have seen throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus again declared Himself the great “I AM!”
John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus was that Word that became flesh, that was with God and WAS God even from the beginning of time! At creation, His was the same powerful voice that spoke things into being, declaring, “Let there be light.” His was the voice that announced His name as “I AM WHO I AM,” when God spoke to Moses in the burning bush.
In this brief moment, Jesus pulls back the veil of His Almighty and Divine power! His two word declaration, “I AM," was so powerful that it caused this well armed squadron to fall to the ground as though being hit by a mighty blast. He literally "knocked them off their feet" and to their knees with just the breath of His Words. Surprise! Maybe this was what caused His betrayers such angst? They had previously witnessed firsthand glimpses of Jesus’ power. Countless times, despite their best efforts to overpower Him or discredit Him, Jesus remained steadfast to His secret ambition. They never KNEW what to expect. Yet, despite all His miracles, they persisted in trying to destroy Him. Surprising, isn’t it? What is even a greater surprise? When evil was threatening to destroy Him, Jesus willingly surrendered Himself to the will of His Father. John 10:18 records Jesus saying, “No one takes (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
What causes you surprise and wonder as you read this today?
NOTHING is a surprise to God.
His secret ambition from the beginning of time has always been to lay down His life to rescue us. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
“Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)