So he asked them again, Whom do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus knew that He was going to be betrayed and was basically sold out by Judas, so He was not caught by surprise when in the Garden of Gethsemane they came to arrest Him (John 18:4). For one thing, He was tried illegally at night and with no clear evidence of His guilt. Never mind that one of His own disciples betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver. What is surprising, at least to the reader, is that such a large force came out to arrest Him (John 18:3). Some of the gospels describe this group as a “great multitude” (Matt 26:47; Mark 14:43; Luke 22:47) and even a cohort, which would have been an incredible 600 men, not counting the number of Jews present, so there could have easily been between 600 to 700 or more. Plus, they came wielding weapons. Can you imagine such a huge armed force coming for one man? Why did they feel the need for such a large force? Perhaps knowing that since He had done many miracles, they might need as large a force as possible in case Jesus used some of His divine powers to try and resist arrest, but, of course, Jesus went peacefully like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).
Jesus knew that they were coming to arrest Him. He had known all along what was to become of Him. He knew about the suffering and death that was prophesied, and it was for this purpose that He came into the world (John 12:31-33). Even though He knew it was coming, this didn’t mean it was easy when it came. When they arrived in the Garden, Jesus asked them who it was that they were looking for, knowing that they were looking for Him. Perhaps He wanted the authorities to not arrest His disciples and have them focus on only Him. In doing so, He wanted to protect them. They answered it was Jesus of Nazareth whom they were looking for (John 18:5), so Jesus said, “I am He.” When He said that, they drew back and fell to the ground (John 18:6). Why did they draw back and fall to the ground? Was it because the name that Jesus used was the name that God declared for Himself (Ex 3:14)? Maybe it was because they expected Jesus to resist arrest and throw some sort of miraculous weapon at them. We cannot be certain.
Do You Seek Jesus?
Jesus made sure to keep His disciples safe, so He said to “let these men go” (John 18:8). That was very interesting because He gave that not as a request, but as a verbal command, and they did leave the disciples alone by not arresting them, too. Jesus said that a prophecy was fulfilled in His saying this, that not one of them would be lost (John 18:9). Those who seek Jesus today don’t even realize that God is drawing them to Christ (John 6:44). No one really seeks after God (Rom 3:11). Flesh and blood cannot discover Who Jesus is. Jesus is revealed only by the will of the Father (Matt 16:17). Is God drawing you to Christ? Has He revealed the Savior to you? Then you are either already saved and have repented and trusted in Christ or He might be convicting you of your sin and making you see your need for the Savior. Either way, seek the Lord while He may still be found (Isaiah 55:6) because tomorrow may be too late (2 Cor 6:2) and the Day of Judgment will fall upon you (Rev 20:12-15) because everyone has an appointment with death and, after that, the Judgment (Heb 9:27).
A Closing Prayer
Great God in heaven, thank You for revealing to me Who Christ is and why I need Him. I know that there is no other way I could have been saved (Acts 4:12). Thank You for the precious life of the Son of God dying for me, and in Jesus’ name I pray.
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