The Invitation - Day 34

John 18:1-6

“After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.

Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked. 

“Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. 

“I Am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) As Jesus said, “I Am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground!”

I know we’ve departed from Luke’s account of Passion Week several times this week, but with good reason.  We’re simply using these other accounts to fill in the picture for us further.

Today, I couldn’t think of any better way to end one of the most challenging weeks in history than with a reminder of who the main character in our story was and is.

After Jesus spends his last hours with the disciples in the upper room, after Judas leaves the room to complete his betrayal, after they walk to a place that was often a retreat from the craziness of the rest of the world for them, the Garden of Gethsemane; and after wrestling with the powers of darkness only to be strengthened by the presence of His heavenly Father, we come to the doorstep of what Jesus came to this earth to do.

Scholars say there may have been as many as 1,000 soldiers who followed Judas up to the garden that night.  That may seem a tad excessive to face off against 12 men, but it was Passover in Jerusalem, and the Romans were always ready to eradicate any threats or attempts at violence.  After all, there would have been up to two million Jews in Jerusalem, so 1,000 soldiers sent to put out a potential threat seems like an appropriate response in most circumstances.

But these circumstances weren’t normal.  Little did they know it at the time, but they weren’t just coming to arrest another man; they were coming to arrest the Son of God.

I’m sure the adrenaline was pumping as they approached the garden.  The soldiers were ready for a battle.

Jesus didn’t cower in this situation.  He fully knew what was happening and what was going to happen, but just moments ago, He resolved to go through with the plan, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”. Jesus was going to save the human race, and in this moment, he stepped up to the challenge.

When Jesus asked who they were looking for, knowing precisely who they were looking for, Jesus stood firm and said, “I Am He!” The English misses what Jesus said.  Jesus said the sacred name of God, Yahweh.  This is why the soldiers, all 1,000 of them, drew back and fell to the ground.  They expected a fight; what they got was a revelation.  They expected a criminal; what they saw was divinity.

Jesus wasn’t just another man; he was and is God in the flesh.  You and I desperately need this God/Man to save us from our sins.  To begin this journey, each one of us must answer one of the most critical questions of our lives, “Who do you say that I am?” (Jesus asked this of his disciples as recorded in Luke 9:20)

If Jesus is who He says He is, the story must be true, and we must be loved more than we can imagine.

So what’s your answer?  Who do you say that Jesus is?

Questions to Consider:

  1. If you are studying this with another person, take a moment to tell the other person who you think Jesus is.  Unpack that thought.  What does He mean for you and your life if He is Lord? If He is the Savior, how does that impact your life today?
  2. What do you think would have been going through the minds of the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus?
  3. If you believe that Jesus was who He said He was, what does it mean to you that He was willing to go through the Garden and the cross for you?
  4. PRAYING TOGETHER - When we realize who Jesus is and all He’s done for us, we are often led to worship and praise.  So take some time to share why Jesus is worthy of your worship and your praise, then together, if you feel led, offer up your lives to the only One who is worthy of it, just as He gave up his life for you.

By Pastor Paddy McCoy

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