Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, â€œWhom do you seek?â€  They answered him, â€œJesus of Nazareth.â€ Jesus said to them, â€œI am he.â€ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.  When Jesus said to them, â€œI am he,â€ they drew back and fell to the ground.  So he asked them again, â€œWhom do you seek?â€ And they said, â€œJesus of Nazareth.â€  Jesus answered, â€œI told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.â€
(John 18:4-8 ESV)
Jesus is ready to go. He didn’t send Peter, James, and John to stall or slow down the army. He didn’t ask these questions to buy more time. He was ready to separate Himself from the 11 so that they could go free.
When Jesus says “I am He.” and all of the guys fall backward, I do too. That just blows me away. Some people use that verse to explain/justify being ‘slain in the Spirit’ I don’t even want to go there. It wasn’t the disciples, it was the army coming to kill Jesus. I don’t want to be grouped with them. This army wasn’t bowing down and worshiping, they were getting punked by the Lord of the Burning Bush and the power plant behind their heartbeat.
I was talking to Eric Youngblood last night and he said he thinks that Jesus just said “I Am” right there.
Think on that: <my narrative>
“Who are you seeking?” Jesus asked them over the sizzle of torches and the clanging of swords, shields and armor.
“Jesus of Nazareth” The commander of the legion shouted.
Jesus stepped forward, “The name [pause] is I Am.”
Nobody was sure if it was a strong wind, an earthquake, or a thunderclap that knocked the army backwards and onto their backs, but it was a full minute of confused, fowl-mouthed, scrambling before they had all gotten back up and approached Jesus again.
I wonder if any of the priest’s men thought about 2 Kings 1:10, when Elijah said, “If I am a man of God, then let fire come down…” as they were getting knocked backward.
Jesus WANTS to reveal the fullness of the Father in ALL of His glory to all men. He gives these guys a chance to recognize who they are messing with.
Who do you want?
Jesus of Nazareth (just a man)
â€œI Am?â€ Jesus pronounces His title with the power veil up just a little bit, like pulling the curtain back just a tad to wake someone up that has slept in on a Saturday morning. In 2 Kings 1 the power veil was pulled up a little too far and the 50 soldiers were cooked.
Here is their chance to reconcile who this guy is. Who exactly are they messing with?
Whom do you want? What did you call me?
Jesus of Nazareth (still considering Him just a man)
â€œI am he.â€ Jesus fully veils the power of God and goes with them. They didnâ€™t want to see it and so He didnâ€™t force it on them. He could call down legions of angels for their destruction, or walk right through the crowd without getting touched, but that was not the Fatherâ€™s plan that night, and Jesus knew it.