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."... 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." (John 18:3-5a, 6-8)
How strange it must have been for the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus! No doubt they had arrested many people before, but this must have been the first to take total command of the scene. Look at the language: "Jesus, knowing all that would happen to Him, came forward ..." Who does that, willingly stepping forward to be arrested?
And then He confirms His identity twice over, just in case they didn't catch it the first time. He uses the very Name of God about Himself—the words "I am He" point us to "I AM," which is God's Name for Himself, which He revealed to Moses in Exodus 3, the burning bush. No wonder the soldiers fell to the ground. That is the Name of ultimate power, the Name above all names. It must have been clear to the soldiers in that moment that they could do nothing to Him unless He permitted it.
Which is exactly what He did. Instead of using His power and authority to save Himself, He used it for one purpose only: "If you seek Me, let these men go." Jesus was focused on protecting His followers. None of them would be lost on His watch.
I imagine the soldiers were thoroughly shaken up by this point. At any rate, they arrested none of the disciples. Jesus surrendered Himself, and the disciples went free.
And that, of course, is exactly what Jesus has done for us as well. Suffering and death? He chose that part for Himself. But freedom—He chose that for His disciples, including you. He chose protection, safety, freedom, life. Those are the gifts that He bought for you with His own life. He loves you that much.
THE PRAYER: Thank You, dear Lord, for giving me protection and life. Amen.
* Have you ever seen an arrest in real life or on the news? What happened?
* When have you protected someone else at your own cost?
* Why did you protect that person? What does that tell you about Jesus' motives?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"