John 18:4-9 – “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’.”
Have you ever been present for a police or military operation? If so, then you understand the high drama and distress that an armed and organized operation can be.
In the dark of night, Jesus and His 11 disciples did something they often did – met in a garden possibly for a time of friendship and prayer. Suddenly, more than 600 armed soldiers with torches and lanterns break through the dark night and encircle the 12.
Previously, as people sought to arrest and harm Jesus, He would escape and slip away. But, in this instance, He stepped forward as it was time for Him to head to the cross. The point is that we need to know when to slip away and when to step ahead.
In the exchange with those who came to kill Him, Jesus told them He was the “I am”. This is an echo of the God who spoke to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). For the Hebrew, this name of God was so sacred that they did not speak or even write it. But, Jesus makes it clear He is the God of Moses. At this utterance of Jesus revealing Himself as God, power was unleashed that caused more than 600 armed soldiers to be knocked to the ground in an instant. The same voice that spoke the world into existence and calmed a raging storm was now commanding an enemy army.
Jesus then revealed Himself as Jesus of Nazareth. The great “I am” is the God-man Jesus of Nazareth. In this scene, we see the supernatural power of the name of Jesus. Philippians 2:8-10 tells us that, like the soldiers, no one will be standing at Jesus’ unveiling saying, “being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” In John 14:13-14, Jesus said that the power of His name was available to us saying, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
For the Christian, honoring the name of Jesus and not taking the Lord’s name in vain are ways that we worship God. Making requests in the Lord’s name is how we pray. Exercising the authority of the Lord’s name is how we wage spiritual war.
How many times a day do you speak or hear the name of Jesus?