“I Am He”


John 18:1-11

This text is not actually one of the seven “I Am” statements of John’s Gospel, but it does make an interesting study nonetheless. It takes place in the Garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper at the time when Jesus was arrested. In short, Jesus and the remaining disciples had gone to the Garden to pray when Judas came to them with a detachment of troops to arrest Jesus. It is Jesus‟ response to their arrival that contains the statement we will look at today.

1: Here we set the scene: they left the upper room and crossed the Kidron Valley, which is more of a ravine than a valley, with a creek that runs through it separating the Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives. It is an area where there are many olive trees, and it is one of these groves that they entered, one known to us as the “Garden of Gethsemane.”

2-3: Judas leads a group into the garden to arrest Jesus; but what kind of group was this? There was a detachment of troops and officials from the Temple. First, the troops: The NIV says a “detachment” of troops, taken from the Greek word speira which is the word for “cohort”. A cohort of troops means 1/10 of a Roman Legion, or a detachment of 600 Romans soldiers. While this seems amazing, the Romans were not people who liked to fight fair battles, and could be consistent with that policy. An even more interesting question arises if this is true: How involved were the Romans in the plot to kill Jesus? The group of “officials” is most likely Temple police, armed as well. One thing seems to emerge early on in this story; the arresting officials seem more worried about their safety than Jesus is about His.

4-6: Jesus makes no attempt to hide from this force, but rather speaks first, asking who they are after… as if He didn’t already know that. Notice here who is in command of the situation: Jesus, not the military. Note also that John makes no reference to Judas kissing Jesus or any of that sort of thing, although His proximity to Jesus is noted. Rather John portrays the command of Jesus, which is entirely consistent with John’s overall demonstration of the spiritual authority of Jesus throughout his Gospel. When the men respond that they are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus relies: “I am he”. (Literally in the Greek, “I am”. In so doing, we have the Son of God stating His real name: I AM.

The result of this statement is dramatic: hundreds of armed men, including some of the best military in the world fall to the ground. This is what happens when the force of men (and demons) comes into direct attack against the authority of God.

7-9: In spite of what has just happened, Jesus is determined to be arrested. His concern is not for His own escape, but for the safety of His disciples, which makes perfect sense considering the role that God had planned for them in the coming weeks and years.

10-11: Gotta love Peter! In his brashness, he nearly fouls Jesus’ arrest, but Jesus still in command of the situation, stills His follower and is taken into custody so that He might do his Father’s will.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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8 Responses to “I Am He”

  1. Russ P. says:

    Thank you Jesus for remaining true to your “mission”. Without you I would be toast.

  2. “Rather John portrays the command of Jesus, ” The power of God’s word. I’ve read that passage time and again, but this time, I actually ‘got it.’ Thanks, Don.

  3. pipermac5 says:

    Jesus remained firmly in charge throughout the whole process, which He reminded Pilate of in John 19:11. Jesus, had He been so inclined, could have struck that whole motley crew blind and left them to grope their way back to Jerusalem, but He didn’t.

  4. Tezzahandy says:

    thank you for this reminder Don. I had not considered that the ‘I am’ part of this short statement was also a statement of who he really was and the true authority he had.

  5. People Empowerment Project says:

    I really appreciate the connection between, “Let him who has ears to hear, let him hear.” and the choice He made to heal the man Peter wounded.

  6. frcasper says:

    Thank you Don and all of you above for your insight.

  7. Pingback: “I Am He” | The Life Project | via ccohsydney | Re-theologizing

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