TUESDAY, JULY 11
SCRIPTURE: John 18
There are several turning points in John’s Gospel. This chapter is one of them. In this chapter, we find the event (the betrayal) that is the first domino that starts all of the others falling until we get to the cross.
As the chapter opens, Jesus and His disciples have crossed the Kidron valley in which is the brook or creek they called the Kidron. This valley is between the eastern wall of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. It is on the west slope of that mount, that the Garden of Gethsemane was located.
Human history began in a garden and the first sin of humanity was committed in a garden. The first Adam disobeyed and was cast out of that garden. The last Adam which is Jesus (see 1 Corinthians 15:45) was obedient as He went to the Garden of Gethsemane.
In his disobedience, the first Adam brought the curse of sin and death onto humanity. By His obedience, Jesus would bring life and abundance to those who would believe.
The word Gethsemane literally means “oil press”. When the olives were picked there in the Garden of Gethsemane, they would be placed in a press where they would be crushed to remove their oil. Jesus, too, would be crushed for our sins and transgressions. Remember in the Bible oil is often used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. So, because Jesus obediently suffered the crushing punishment of our sin, the Holy Spirit would come forth to inhabit all who believe.
The Kidron Brook is also important to this scene. The name Kidron literally means dusky or gloomy. It was a reference to the dark waters that were often stained by the blood of the sacrifices made in the Temple of Jerusalem.
As Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas and a small of army of Jewish religious leaders and Roman soldiers arrived to arrest Him. Did you notice in verse 4 that Jesus went toward them? As gruesome as the next several hours would be for Jesus, He did not shrink back from it. He went toward it.
As the scene continues to unfold, Jesus asked them who they were looking for. Their response was, “Jesus of Nazareth”. His response was, “I am He”. I want to make sure that you grasp what Jesus really said. In the original language, Jesus’ response was, “I am”. The translators added the word He so that it would read better in our language.
The important point here is Jesus made His claim that He was God when He said this. The “I am” is the same name the Father used of Himself in His conversation with Moses in the wilderness.
This is the explanation of why the army of religious leaders and Roman soldiers fell back and onto the ground when Jesus spoke. We might understand why the religious leaders would fall down but it is a most telling statement that Roman soldiers would fall back and down just because someone said, “I am”. Those Romans soldiers were part of the best trained, most feared military in the world at the time. Just remember there is no sinful human that can stand in the revealed presence of the Almighty God.
It is most interesting to me that they were able to collect themselves and proceed with the arrest after that. Of course, this was all a part of God’s sovereign plan. And now Jesus would be led away to the first of His trials.