Monday, October 24, 2011
Powerful Words, Powerful Savior
John 18:4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? 5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. 6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. 7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
When you think of the words of Jesus while He was walked this sod, many remarkable quotes come to mind. The Words from the cross are powerful, "Father, forgive them.", "It is finished." Etc.
And then, there are the many dynamic teachings from the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, "Ye are the salt of the earth" and "Ye are the light of the world.", Etc.
What He said to Nicodemus, the woman at the well and other individuals are incomparable.
But here is something said by our Lord, simple and powerful, that literally knocked the listeners from their feet.
Two words, add the italicized word and the phrase becomes a mere 3 word phrase. "I am he." The group went backward and fell to the ground!
We have to realize the makeup of the arresting party. Verse 3 tells us, Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Additionally, verse 10 tells us of Malchus, a servant of the high priest, and verse 12, which indicates a captain and officers of the Jews.
These were apparently all Jews, religious ones at that, and not a Roman among them.
Commentator Adam Clarke has this take on the incident: "Our Lord chose to give them this proof of his infinite power, that they might know that their power could not prevail against him if he chose to exert his might, seeing that the very breath of his mouth confounded, drove back, and struck them down to the earth. Thus by the blast of God they might have perished, and by the breath of his nostrils they might have been consumed: Job 4:9."
Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown, put this take on what was taking place, "they went backward (recoiled) and fell to the ground — struck down by a power such as that which smote Saul of Tarsus and his companions to the earth (Act_26:14). It was the glorious effulgence of the majesty of Christ which overpowered them.”
And Mayer adds, “This, occurring before His surrender, would show His power over His enemies, and so the freedom with which He gave Himself up.”
I would link this display of power with the awesome significance of the very words, "I am." Not a one of the arresting party was unfamiliar with their significance. Prior to this arrest, Jesus used those very words to incite, possibly some of these very Pharisees, to take up stones to take our Lord out of commission. John 8:58, 59.
In fact, the book of John is replete with the "I Am’s" of Jesus. (More than 30 times!) John is the only one of the four evangelists to relate this "I am he" narrative.
Calmet speaks fluidly of the connotation of Jesus' claim of being the "I Am." “I am from all eternity. I have existed before all ages. You consider in me only the person who speaks to you, and who has appeared to you within a particular time. But besides this human nature, which ye think ye know, there is in me a Divine and eternal nature. Both, united, subsist together in my person."
We may not know this side of heaven what supernatural forces accompanied Jesus' proclamation of "I am he." My mind recalls the dove and the voice from heaven which accompanied His baptism. I think of the voice that thundered and the bright light that blinded as Paul and his companions were knocked to the ground on Damascus Road. I consider also the transfiguration of Jesus before His inner circle of disciples. Perhaps some of these very phenomenon occurred in the Garden when He proclaimed "I am he." When He repeated the phrase a few verses later, no such knock down power accompanied it. (vs 8)
I long for coronation day when all believers of all ages will fall before our King in humble adoration. I imagine the Father proclaiming "This is my Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased." Not one of the sainted billions will be able to stay afoot. What power! What glory! What display of eternal domination will we witness on that glorious day?
At Jesus' words, the arresting group lost their bearings, went backward and fell to the ground. Then they came to themselves, garnered their "honor" and proceeded with their dark mission.
At the words of our great I AM in celestial environs, we will be completely arrested. We will fall prone before Him to worship without inhibition. On that day and forevermore we will ascribe to Him salvation, glory, honor and power. That will be our eternal mission.