John 18:1-3 (NIV) 1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
On verses 1-3: The first time the Kidron Valley is mentioned in Scripture, King David is crossing it at a time when he is being betrayed by the son he loves and his life is in jeopardy (see 2 Samuel 15, especially verse 23). The last time the Kidron Valley is mentioned in Scripture, Jesus the Son of David is crossing it at a time when he is being betrayed by a disciple he loves and his life is in jeopardy.
John 18:4-11 (NIV) 4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” 5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
On verses 4-11: The sense John wants us to get from these verses is that Jesus voluntarily surrendered himself to his betrayer Judas. The fact that Jesus could cause a detachment of soldiers to cower in fear just with the sound of his voice saying, “I am He” (v6) shows that Jesus had no reason to fear Judas or the mob who was with him. This was the powerful Son of God submitting to weak sinners simply because he was intent on drinking the cup of suffering that the Father had given to him (v11).
From this we learn that this Jesus of Nazareth is:
– The prophetic and prescient seer who knew the betrayal and abuse that would happen to him before it happened (v4);
– The powerful Son of God whose voice can disarm and humble armed soldiers (v6) and whose declaration “I am He” recalls what God says to Moses in Exodus 3:14;
– The protecting shepherd who would sacrifice himself if it meant his disciples could go free (v8-9 “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”)
– The peacekeeping Saviour who would not let the violence around him distract him from the saving, healing, peaceful work he had come to do (v10-11);
– The persevering son who is set on completing the mission his Father gave him (v11)
Jesus would ask the soldiers, “Who is it that you want?” (v7) Little did they know that Jesus was not just the one they wanted, but the Saviour we all need.
Jesus, You are prophetic, powerful, protecting, peacekeeping and persevering. Thank You for willingly surrendering Yourself to sinners, though You were so much stronger than them, and all simply so that You could be faithful to the mission the Father gave You. I am amazed by Your power, Your prescience, Your protecting shepherd’s heart, Your peacekeeping ways and Your perseverance in completing the mission You were given. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!