John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 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. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, I am he.”aJudas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” ESV
[a] Footnote: John 18:5 Greek I am; also verses 6, 8
What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus is the only one who understands the Father is in complete control. Everyone else is under the assumption they have some control over this situation. Judas has come to this familiar place prepared to betray Jesus. The soldiers have come to this garden prepared to execute that betrayal once Jesus’s identity has been confirmed. Peter has come prepared to fight to save Jesus. Jesus “knowing all that would happen to him,” is the only one who’s come prepared with the truth of His identity.
“Jesus answered them with this curious phrase, two words in both English and in the original language (ego eimi). It is curious because Jesus didn’t say I am He, but simply I am – the He was added by the translators and is not in the original text. With this Jesus consciously proclaimed that He was God, connecting His words to the many previous I am statements recorded in the Gospel of John, especially in John 8:58 (but also John 6:48, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9, 10:11-14, 10:36, 11:25, 14:6).” Enduring Word
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus, identifies Himself as I am! In those two simple words He acknowledges His compete identity with the Father who IS in control; “Shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
What does it say about people?
People make decisions within the context of control. It’s a human part of the reasoning nature the Father has built into His people. Step 1: accumulate and compile information, Step 2: make an informed decision and Step 3: take action.
Is there truth here for me?
It’s not those three steps that are the problem, it’s the sin of losing sight of who’s in control of our identity. Sin has distorted reasoning. Judas for some inexplicable reason had accumulated and compiled his information, knowing Jesus considered him a friend, but chose to believe some lie of reasoning that could justify betraying his friend. The soldiers chose to rely on the informed decisions of their leaders reasoning, but were knocked to the ground by their own. Peter in this context of wanting to save Jesus had no time to reason but chose violence as his knee-jerk reaction.
None of these responses are unfamiliar to me. John has continued to remind me how important it is to remember Jesus is THE control over the context of my identity. I have a reasoning nature that is improving because of Jesus in my life but it is still distorted. I can make informed decisions until I’m blue in the face but I just can’t trust they’ll all be perfect. The one assurance I have is that Jesus is THE control over every action I take. Jesus has promised He will inspect, correct and redirect every clumsy step I take in my journey with Him toward eternity “to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”