Love Poured Out: Jesus Arrested

Tuesday: John 18:1–11

Over the past 6 weeks at Oasis we have been taking in the 24 hours leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion as recorded in John’s gospel. We’ve spent time absorbing the beautiful, powerful, illuminating words Jesus spoke to His disciples in order to prepare them for all that was about to happen to Him. His words have helped us see afresh a God of spectacular love poured out. Now, in the days leading up to Easter weekend, we will continue to take it all in together. We’re going to release a short blog each day, considering how events unfolded after Jesus and His friends left the upper room. Join us to read and reflect upon the details John presents in chapters 18–19 of his gospel. As we look, see and savour Jesus afresh and receive His love poured out for you.

John 18:1–11
1 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?”

Jesus and His friends often met in this garden. But on this occasion, it must have felt to the disciples like they had ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. The peace and quiet of a familiar resting place now interrupted by a band of soldiers with swords, led by the betraying Judas. But while his disciples panicked, Jesus is the picture of calm assurance. This was no surprise. He knew all that was going to happen to him. A hidden sovereignty was at work. And He would exercise that sovereignty in His customary way… in the service of others. He steps out in front of his bewildered and frightened disciples, giving himself up for their freedom. Knowing the soldiers had come for Him, the man named ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ He steps forward and declares ‘I am He.’

What happens next seems strange at first glance. The soldiers fall to the ground. Why? Was the garden ground that uneven? Was it too dark to avoid tripping over the person in front of you? No, there is so much more going on here! Jesus’ words ‘I am He’ are not just another way of saying, ‘Jesus of Nazareth — that’s me.’ Here in the flickering light of lanterns, Jesus declares himself to be ‘I AM’ — Israel’s God. Jesus is the great ‘I AM,’ eternally equal with the Father. The bread of life, the light of the world, the Door for the sheep, the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, the way, the truth and the life, the true vine. God was back in a garden, walking with mankind and about to undo our fall, heal, restore, save and make known His love poured out! When Jesus speaks divine authority is felt. And so, the soldiers did what everyone always does in the presence of God — fall to the ground before Him, though they hardly knew what they were doing, or why.

But see, once again how Jesus exercises this divine authority to serve and to heal. Verse 10 tells us that Peter, in a moment of panic, grabs his sword and chops of the ear of the high Priest’s servant, fighting fire with fire. But in Luke 22:51 we read that Jesus reached out, touched the man’s ear and healed it. Even here, even now, he reaches out to his enemies in love and grace. What a King! What grace! What love poured out!

Look to Him again today. See Him step forth for you. And if you find yourself in confusion, in uncertainty, tempted like Peter to grab control, see one who has authority in the darkest of moments and exercises that authority for your freedom and your healing…