We were watching, so to speak, as the mob came to arrest Jesus, at our last post. Jesus has shown that it was His decision to go to Gethsemane, and that He is approaching the crowd with majesty and calmness.
Let's look today at our passage, and John will show us a demonstration of Jesus' power.
Verse 6 tells us, "When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground."
I kinda envision this as them drawing back in some fear and apprehension, and then tumbling to the ground. Many translators agree that the crowd was actually pushed back and then pushed down by the power of the Spirit. When our all-powerful God wants to assert His dominion, He can overwhelm people with His presence. We don't know if the whole crowd went down, or just the people in the front who were demanding to see Jesus. But this is obviously a demonstration of Jesus' control over the situation He was in.
Clearly, a God Who can calm the waves with a word, and Who spoke the worlds into creation, can do this. He has the authority and the power, and He did NOT have to surrender to them.
John tells us this, so that we will "get it." Jesus was in control. No man took His life. He willingly laid it down as a sacrifice for us.
Next John wants us to see Jesus' desire for the disciples. After this, He asks the crowd again, "Who is it you want?"
It's obvious to everyone that they want Jesus. But His focus in on protecting His disciples . . . look at verse 8. He says, if you are looking for me, then let these men go. He is leading the mob to conclude that all they want is Him -- they can let the disciples go.
This is very revealing about the heart of Christ. He is always looking out for us. Even in His darkest hours, He is making certain that His disciples are OK. How about us? When we are exhausted from work, it's not easy to offer someone else our seat, is it? When we are depressed, it's not easy to smile and encourage one who needs it badly, is it? But Jesus loves His own all the way to the end, even though they were (and we are) failing Him in many ways.
John adds this in verse 9: "This happened so that the words He had spoken would be fulfilled: I have lost none of those you gave me." That's not a fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy, as we often see; this is from Jesus' prayer in chapter 17: "None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that the Scripture would be fulfilled." Judas is in stark contrast to the other disciples; it wasn't long ago that he was in this very garden praying with Jesus. He had lived so close to Him for these years. But Judas never surrendered his heart to Christ, even though he followed Him along with the other eleven.
And here is something amazing in our passage -- Judas and the mob that came with him don't change their minds, don't change their plan even when confronted with the majesty of Jesus. They must be surprised at His calm demeanor. They must be startled by His power when they are knocked over by the Spirit. Aren't they going to repent and abandon their mission?
We sometimes feel that if God would simply show His power, surely people would repent and turn to Him. Yes, some will respond that way. But repentance is a choice. And some people just refuse to make that choice.
So, Jesus submits Himself to their arrest only after He gains the freedom of His followers. Wow. Think about that when we consider Peter's behavior later on . . .