Daily Devotional: John 18:1–14

18 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Jn 18:1–14.

We see very quickly who’s really calling the shots here.

Judas comes with a mob of soldiers, angry officials, and Pharisees. It must have looked like when the angry mob of villagers storm Dr. Frankenstein’s gate — I imagine the scene with a riot group of pitchforks and torches, all ready to crush Jesus and his little cohort, bringing a swift end to these three years of nonsense.

And yet, when Jesus even just speaks the full weight of who He really is, it causes the entire crowd to fall back onto the ground.

What He says in “I am He” isn’t just a mere affirmation, but it’s an echo to John 8:58. It’s a full statement in the clearest way of His union with the Father, with Yahweh, the Great I Am.

No wonder Jesus always sort of dodged the question before. No wonder we have so many songs that sing “At the mention of His name.” Somehow, the identity itself carries with it such a weight and authority that it brings people to the ground, flat on their faces.

And yet, even with all that commotion, Jesus’ first and primary concern was for the safety of His friends.

Jesus, here with all the authority in the universe, enough power in His mere name to knock down anyone who opposes Him, and He turns all of His attention to not saving His own bacon, but protecting His disciples.

This is what love is. Love is seeing you have power, you have authority, that you carry weight, and influence, and strength… and you use it all to benefit others. You use the full weight of who you are, what you can do, to benefit the people you care most about.

Glory and power without love is empty and meaningless. But Jesus, at a time when anyone else would turn tail and cower, or fight like hell, instead chooses to stop the fight, save His friends, and lay down His life.

This is what Jesus came to do. To reveal His full weight, His full glory, His power and dominion, yes…but also to spend all of that for the end goal of seeking and saving the lost. For seeking and saving you.

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