Whom do you Seek?
By: Michael Smith | April 16
When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
The events of Holy Week become familiar over time. Each year we relive the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry as we read of the Triumphal Entry (Luke 19:28-44), the Last Supper (Mark 14:1-31), His agony in the garden (Luke 22:39-46), the sham trials (Mark 15:1-15), and of course, the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:45-56). Sometimes in the familiarity, we read right over something in the text. We fail to see a word or a phrase that’s always been there but has never really occurred to us. Have you ever noticed Jesus’ strong claim to Deity that is tucked away in John 18:6?
It’s a familiar scene: Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas has brought a band of soldiers with lanterns and torches. “Whom do you seek?” Jesus asks (John 18:4). When they reply “Jesus,” He answers them “I am he” (John 18:5). What happens next is what’s unexpected. They fall to the ground. What’s going on here? I’m afraid that what we lose in our English translations is the force of what Jesus has said in verse 5. Literally translated, the Greek says simply “I am.” That simple phrase should take our mind back to the burning bush of Exodus 3:14. “I Am” is the name of the powerful creator God, the absolute I, the self-existent One. “I Am” is the covenant keeping God who brought His people, the Israelites, out of slavery and promised to send them a Messiah. When Jesus said “I Am,” those who had come to arrest Him fell to the ground.
This verse reminds us that because Jesus is the Great I Am, He was in control of everything that happened that night. Nothing was happening to Him; it was all under the control of the God of the Universe. Sometimes I need to be reminded that God is in control. I remember when we were adopting our daughter, and the adoption seemed to be stalled. Day after day we hoped for news, but there was only silence. One day I spent my lunch hour praying and asking God to give me a sign that He was still at work in the adoption. I went by my house before I went back to work, and our adoption referral was in the mailbox. God reminded me that He had been at work all along. That document had been mailed and even delivered well before I had asked Him for it! In my doubt and impatience, God was in control. Even when I wondered where He was, He was the “I Am.”
“Whom do you seek?” Jesus asked in the Garden. It’s a question for each of us. Are you seeking the Bread of Life? The Light of the World? Are you seeking the Door of the sheep, the Good Shepherd? Are you seeking the Resurrection and the Life? Are you seeking the Way, the Truth, and the Life, the True Vine? Jesus said, “I Am” all of those things. As we look toward the Cross this week, let’s remember that He is in control. He is the Great I Am.