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I Am He

John 18:4-6 (ESV) – Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”  Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Our passage shows the hours preceding Jesus’ death. His arrest, which was no surprise to Him (He had been predicting it for years), comes as Judas leads a band of soldiers from the Temple to where Jesus rested with His disciples. Judas arrives in the dark of night with torches to light the way. Jesus comes forward and asks who they are searching for. But He knows. He’s going to make them say it. Their guilt will multiply for eternity’s record with their response. When they say it is Jesus they are there for, Jesus responds. 

That’s the emphasis of our passage today. His response is an eye-opener for several reasons. We read that Jesus replies to their request by saying, “I am he.” Now, at first glance, this may appear to be Jesus simply acknowledging who He is to them. But more is happening. How do we know that? Because we see that the search party drew back and fell to the ground at His response. This reaction demonstrates elements of something supernatural happening. There is a power that comes out from Him. But they also experience that because of what Jesus says. 

The Greek shows Jesus’ response is, “I am.” That is the name of God revealed by YHWH Himself in Exodus to Moses. Moses wants to know what God’s name is so he can share it with Pharaoh, and the answer he received back was, “I AM.” God is simply “I AM.” He is the self-existent One. He is before all things and above all things. Jesus is pointing to His true identity. And they grasp some aspect of it based on their response. But like Pharaoh, after experiencing the power of God through the plagues, they hardened their hearts and proceeded to arrest the One who identified as “I AM.”

Jesus’ answer in this passage today reveals important things about His nature. He is the LORD Almighty. They are so blinded by sin and rage that even after they see it, they reject it. This passage should remind us of how insidious sin truly is. It blinds us. If it were not for the grace of God, we would reject Christ like the arresting search party. If our hearts are inclined to love Him, rather than reject Him, it is because of the kindness of God in revealing to us His true nature. The revelation should have us voluntarily on our faces, not in the same fear the search party experienced, but in reverence to His greatness and grace. 

Reflection & Journal: 
- Why does the search party fall to the ground?
- What does this passage teach us about Jesus’ divinity?
- How does this text encourage us to praise God for His grace?

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