All of us need to clarify this in our minds.  Was it just an ordinary man, a good teacher, or was it the Son of God?  With Easter, I always choose to meditate on one aspect of the crucifixion story to appreciate again my own salvation.  Looking at John 18 and Jesus’ betrayal in the garden by Judas, there are some interesting little details that I have never seen before.

When Judas came to the garden, he brought with him a “detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees.  They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.”(John 18:3)

Just who did they think they were coming to arrest, that such a large group of soldiers, armed to the hilt, was necessary?  Did they think that Jesus was going to make a run for it, and they would need torches and lanterns to find him?  Either way, it is clear that they were expecting some kind of fight.

  • After Jesus asks them who they are looking for, Jesus declares “I am he.” Then in the next verse (v6) it tells us that when Jesus said that, all these soldiers “drew back and fell to the ground.”  This was not the first time Jesus revealed himself as “I AM”, he also did it in John 8:58 and John 13:9 and the listeners would have realized that he was identifying himself with the same words as God identified himself when he spoke to Moses on Mt Horeb (Exodus 3:14).

These were trained, armed soldiers who at a word from Jesus, fell on their backs!  Power had been released and when the Son of God declared “I AM,” the name of God, all the soldiers immediately knew that at a word from Jesus, they would be defeated.

  • Then Peter, taking matters into his own hands, tries to strike Malchus, the high priest’s servant with a sword.  He misses, and chops off his ear.  Jesus immediately steps in, says that violence will not be necessary and takes hold of Malchus’ head and instantly heals him.  No picking up the ear, putting it on ice and rushing to hospital.  Jesus simply heals a new ear.  Everyone present would know that He had the power to heal, even the ear of his enemy’s servant.
  • Jesus tells Peter in Matt 26:53, to remember that He could pray to the Father and he would make twelve legions of angels available to Jesus if Jesus asked him.  Twelve legions!  One legion of soldiers is about 6000 men.  That’s 72 000 angels.  According to Isaiah 37:36, one angel went out and killed 185 000 men in an Assyrian camp.  Now if one angel could do that, imagine 12 legions of powerful angels at his command.  Jesus own followers were reminded of the power available to him at a prayer.
  • Then in Mark 14:51,52 we are told of a young man in a linen cloth that was following Jesus from the garden.  Linen cloth was used to drape naked bodies for burial and the Garden of Gethsemane was situated on the side of the Mount of Olives.  Towards the base of that mount is a heavily populated cemetery with many of the graves going back to the time of Jesus.  When Jesus said “I AM” it is possible that this young man was raised from the dead and was following Jesus when the soldiers grabbed his linen cloth and he ran away naked.

It is clear, that Jesus was considered powerful to all that were present at the arrest. Matt 26:57 (King James)

And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

The forcefully arrested Jesus and “led him away.”  That phrase comes from the Greek word ‘apago’, and is the same word used to describe a shepherd tying a rope around the neck of a sheep and leading it away down a path that it needs to go.  Jesus with a rope around his neck, followed the soldiers, just like a sheep would follow a shepherd, to fulfill Isaiah 53:7

sheep-the-lamb-of-godHe was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.

Even though Jesus had proved that He could not be taken by force and all those present knew of His power, Jesus willfully surrendered to them, knowing that it was part of the Father’s redemption plan for all people.

What is so clear is that no one took Jesus to the cross, it was Jesus voluntary choice to go with the soldiers.  To be the lamb slain for our sins so that you and I could experience forgiveness of sins, a relationship with God and eternal life with Him in heaven.  That is who it was they crucified.

Thank you Lord for giving up your life, so that you could redeem mine. Thank you that through your death on the cross, I can experience forgiveness of sin. Thank you for coming into my life, establishing me in a relationship with You as your child and giving me a life that is full and meaningful because of what You did on the cross for me.