Some of the staff at my church wrote a five-week study on the New Testament book of John. Journey Through John. It’s been excellent. I just finished the part where Judas betrays Jesus. He and his disciples leave the city and enter the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s more like an orchard, with a wall around it than a typical flower garden. Jesus prays here often.
Judas knows about the garden too. Thinking this is where Jesus will be, Judas brings a detachment of Roman soldiers, around 600 armed men, and the temple police. This is where things get interesting. Picture Jesus and a handful of disciples facing 600 armed soldiers and the temple police. Jesus knows what’s coming. After all, he came to earth to die so that we might have eternal life. He steps forward and asks, “…whom do you seek?” The reply comes back, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
“I am he,” Jesus replies.
Nobody rushes forward to grab him and slap on the ‘cuffs.’ If this was a western movie, someone would have. Instead, all 600 plus, “draw back and fall to the ground.” I love that. I can picture the disciples each standing a little taller. Maybe they nonchalantly slipped their hands into their pockets showing much less concern than they had two minutes ago.
If you are Jesus, what do you do now? The gang that has come to arrest you and nail you to a cross is lying on the ground hoping you don’t strike them dead. Jesus probably scratches his head before repeating his question. Who are you looking for? Jesus of Nazareth. “I told you that I am he.” Now get up you big babies and get on with it. He might not have said that. It’s almost like Jesus has to arrest himself. He tells them to let the disciples go and to concentrate on him. They do.
Our church study makes it pretty clear that Jesus didn’t need any help. He could have vaporized the soldiers and police but he goes with them. He is tried illegally, humiliated, whipped, scourged, beaten, crucified, pierced and buried. And on the third day…he rises from the dead.
The next time somebody says something bad about Jesus, you don’t need to get angry and defend him. He can take care of himself.