THE GREAT MAJESTIC “I AM” VOLUNTARILY SURRENDERS TO THE POWERLESS ARRESTING PARTY GUIDED BY TRAITOROUS JUDAS
I. (:1-3) UNNECESSARY SEARCH AND SEIZURE TAKES PLACE IN A SECLUDED GARDEN WITH TRAITOROUS JUDAS GUIDING AN EXCESSIVE BUT POWERLESS FORCE
A. (:1-2) Familiar Secluded Setting
1. (:1) Familiar to Jesus and His Disciples
“When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, into which He Himself entered, and His disciples.”
Hendriksen: The one outstanding event which had occurred here was David’s passing over this same brook, while fleeing before his rebellious son Absolom (II Sam. 15:23). Was he not, in this act of humiliation and suffering a type of Christ?
2. (:2) Familiar to Judas
“Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place; for Jesus had often met there with His disciples.”
Obviously, Jesus was making no effort to hide Himself from the betraying designs of Judas. He continued on His normal course; no need for such excessive force since He was not planning to put up any resistance.
MacArthur: Now you ask the question: “Why did He go there? If He knew He was going to get into this mess, why did He go?” He went there because it was…
– The Place of Prayer
He wanted to talk to the Father, and He did. John doesn’t tell us about His agonizing in prayer as the other writers do (Mt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46).
– The Place of Rest
It was the place where He could go to get away from the all of the conflict.
– The Place of Sweet Fellowship with His Disciples
Here they could be alone together. But all of these reasons were secondary.
– The Place of His Arrest
The main reason Jesus went there was to make it easy for Judas and the soldiers to arrest Him. You say, “You mean this wasn’t a surprise?” He mapped out this scene before the world began. The Old Testament details what Judas was going to do not only in the typical prophecy of Ahithophel’s situation, but in very accurate verbal prophecy (e.g., Ps. 41:9; 55:12-14). Zechariah 11:13 even prophesies the fact that the chief priests would use the thirty pieces of silver to buy the potter’s field. Jesus went to that Garden because He was forcing the confrontation that would result in His death.
B. (:3) Fortified Arresting Party
“Judas then, having received the Roman cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.”
Judas must have expected trouble. He certainly was fearful of the powers of Jesus. The Jews and Romans were fearful of the reaction of the public.
Ryrie: A Roman cohort would be a group 300-600 Roman soldiers.
(Perhaps less were involved here; tough to say)
Hendriksen: Torches and lanterns . . . to search for the Light of the world! And it was full moon! Swords and cudgels . . . to subdue the Prince of Peace! This was a cruel insult. It proved how thoroughly his mission had been misinterpreted. For the Man of Sorrows, the very sight of this band of ruffians, which considered him their quarry, meant indescribable suffering. They had come out against him as if he were a criminal, a robber for instance. This was agony. He felt the bitter insult, as is clear from the words he spoke (Matt. 26:55). He saw the approach of the power of darkness (Luke 22:53).
II. (:4-9) OMNISCIENT SURRENDER AT THIS THE APPOINTED HOUR
A. (:4) The All Knowing One Puts the Arresting Party on the Spot
“Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’”
B. (:5-6) Initial Identification and Reaction of Fear
“They answered Him, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said to them, ‘I Am He.’ And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. When therefore He said to them, ‘I Am He,’ they drew back, and fell to the ground.”
Morris: But the answer is in the style of deity. This must have been a most unexpected move on His part. The soldiers had come out secretly to arrest a fleeing peasant. In the gloom they find themselves confronted by a commanding figure, who so far from running away comes out to meet them and speaks to them in the very language of deity.
C. (:7-9) Repeated Identification and Request for Release of the Disciples
“Again therefore He asked them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ And they said, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I Am He; if therefore you seek Me, let these go their way.’ that the word might be fulfilled which He spoke, ‘Of those whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one.’”
Carr: The deity of Jesus is also seen in the concern He possessed for His Disciples. He is concerned that they not be arrested, but that they be allowed to go free. You see, Jesus was concerned with the protection of His men. They were special to Him and He was determined to see that their need was met that night. How does this demonstrate His deity? By the simple fact that He cared more for their welfare than He did for His own! In His actions you do not see the selfishness manifested by most humans. He shows a self-sacrificing love that defies description. Only God is able to love to that degree!
III. (:10-11) MISGUIDED AND ABORTED ATTEMPT AT RESISTANCE BY PETER
A. (:10) Impetuous Peter Springs Into Action – tries to take matters into his own hands
“Simon Peter therefore having a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus.”
MacArthur: Here is impetuous Peter. It is not enough that Christ has protected him; now Peter draws a knife and starts cutting into the crowd. You can imagine the Lord saying, “After all I have just gone through to get you off the hook, and now you are doing this!” The Bible says that Peter cut off his right ear, but you should know Peter well enough to know that he wasn’t aiming for an ear. Nothing would have made him happier than to see the man’s head rolling down the hill. So, Peter wanted to move into the army — he felt invincible. After all, Christ was right beside him. He probably figured, “If I get into trouble, the Lord will just say, `I am.'” So he felt secure and invincible in the presence of Christ and drew the sword and whacked off an ear.
Fortunately, Malchus had fairly good reactions. And then, in a beautiful demonstration of His protective love, Jesus recreated his ear — gave him a new one (Lk. 22:51).
B. (:11) Peaceful Jesus Submits to the Father’s Plan
“Jesus therefore said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?’”