HOST: Ron House
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
John records an interesting detail of this event that the other writers do not. When the band of armed soldiers and officers recognized that it was Jesus who stood before them, John records that they “drew back and fell to the ground.” How do you explain this uncharacteristic response of well-trained and armed men? As Jesus pointed out to them (in other accounts), He had been with them daily in the temple. They knew Him, His character, and His temperament. But they also knew His power. If they had not witnessed it in person, they had certainly heard the stories of Jesus’ power over nature, disease, and even life. They could only imagine what He was capable of if He felt that His life was in danger. Would He strike them down? Would He call fire down from heaven to consume them? Would He inflict them with some terrible disease? Their minds must have reeled with thoughts of what this man could or would do when they confronted Him. As they stand face to face with Jesus, they are for the moment filled with fear and awe to be in His presence.
Is there any lesson we can learn from the soldiers in this text?
Don’t forget to pray and have a great day!