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[John 18]  Today, we’re going to study more on some of the events that transpired during the passion week of our Lord.  [John 18:1-11]

This passage tells of the coming of the group to arrest our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke carry the same thoughts, but John varies a little from them.  There is no conflict, but there is different emphasis upon certain truths.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke emphasize the suffering, mistreatment, and abuse that is heaped upon our Lord.  They tell of the agony and they tell of the prayer in the garden in which He was sweating great drops of blood and they tell of the lack of watchfulness of the disciples.  You know, “sweating great drops of blood” is not figurative; it’s literal.  There is a medical situation created occasionally when someone is under great stress, and his capillaries will become engorged with blood.  When that stress is suddenly removed, the blood can release itself through the skin.  But, we have none of these sufferings mentioned here in the book of John.

John emphasizes the glory of the person of Jesus the Christ.  John emphasizes His deity.  It’s talking about the powerfulness of God and the helplessness of man.  Here in verse 1, we read, “When Jesus had spoken these words.”  What words?  The words that were spoken in the upper room recorded in chapters 13-16 and the word in chapter 17, which is properly the Lord’s Prayer.  If you ask the average Christian to repeat the Lord’s Prayer today, they will repeat what He gave as the model prayer.  What is recorded as the Lord’s Prayer is the prayer that He prayed in John chapter 17.  “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples and crossed the brook Cedron.”

In the Bible, we read much concerning the priests and the offerings and the sacrifices, and here, the Lord goes out of the temple, across the brook, and up on the other side because He is going to suffer outside the camp.  And he enters a garden.  When we think of the first Adam, we think of the Garden of Eden.  Here, we have the second Adam, and we read of a garden in association with Him.  This is the garden where our Lord retired every evening of the last week of His ministry in the temple.  In this garden, He spent entire nights in prayer.  That’s powerful!

It tells us here that He took His disciples with Him.  The other gospels emphasize the fact that he left eight of the disciples outside the garden, or outside of the gate of the garden.  Judas had gone to betray the Lord and sell Him for 30 pieces of silver.  (We will discuss the motives and the situation surrounding Judas at another time.)  The Lord took Peter, James, and John with him, but at a certain point, He left them and went on alone.  If you remember, this is the garden in which the disciples fell asleep when they were supposed to be praying.  Here, in this instance, he had all of the disciples with him in the garden.

Now, Judas knew this place.  He had been there with the Lord personally.  Judas would be an enigma to us, if we didn’t know that the Lord had called him for the specific purpose of betraying Him.  The life Judas lived with the other apostles was just the same as theirs.  He had the same powers as they had, and he preached the gospel of the Kingdom, as did the other.  He accompanied them with the Lord.

None of the other disciples knew by the way he lived that he would betray the Lord.  Judas knew this garden and he knew that this is where the Lord went when He wanted to be alone with the Father.  This was the place to which our Lord retired when He felt the need to be alone, without the others and spend time with the Father.

The apostles, just as the Lord, apparently weren’t ashamed to go to the same place repeatedly for prayer and meditation.  Some people hesitate to do this, fearful that someone will accuse them of worshipping a place.  Not so with Jesus and the apostles, and elsewhere, we find with Peter and John, they went to the temple at the hour to pray that they observed a regular time and a place of prayer.  There may be occasions when a specific time and place could hinder, but I think that each of us could benefit by having a regular time and place of prayer.

Our Lord and the apostles had this time and place, and Judas knew all about it.  But, this place meant nothing to Judas; it meant nothing!  But, knowing these things, and having betrayed the Lord (having received the 30 pieces of silver), he comes with the group.

We notice here in [verse 3].  The word “band” literally is the word that means “cohort”.  This word means a tenth of a legion.  Now, a legion generally contained 5000-6000 soldiers, but some of them contained as few as 2000, and some as many as 10,000, and a cohort contains one tenth.  So here, we have a lot of men; probably between 500 and 600 military men; men who are trained, disciplined, and armed, and they’re coming with Judas to take the Lord captive.  They knew he had eleven men with him, and they knew that He had many other followers around Him.  We often only think of the apostles, but there were many, many more, if we pay attention to what the Scriptures tell us.  These soldiers did not know that the reaction of these people would be.  They didn’t know what the crowd would do, and they’re not taking any chances, as they come with a full cohort of armed soldiers, under the leadership of the officers to arrest the Lord Jesus Christ.

According to the other gospels, a mob had formed to come with the cohort.  They had the scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees; they had the religious leaders (all of them) united around one particular thought:  The doing away with this individual whose life and teaching cut diametrically across their lives and teachings.  They knew very well that if He lived, either their teaching would be renounced or they must change their way of living and teaching.  To them, the easiest way out was to silence the voice that convicted them.

Whether you appreciate it or not, that’s one of the reasons that so few Christians read the Bible daily.  I’ve heard it said that the reason the majority of Christians don’t read this book, is they don’t turn many pages until they encounter a “thou shalt not”.  So, they close it and don’t read it.  They silence the Lord.

But, to this mob’s way of thinking, this voice must be silenced.  I’ve heard many Messianic Jewish scholars teach (and I agree) that the leaders of Israel knew that Jesus was the Messiah (they should have known; all the signs were there) and they had to either conform or remove him.  They chose to remove Him.

So, here comes this group, led by a tenth of a legion of Roman soldiers; the officers are leading, the mob is following, and the religious leaders are urging them on.  Now, we don’t read here in John about Judas betraying the Lord with a kiss.  When you look at the other gospels, it seems that even took place a little later, probably between verses 9 and 10, but that’s not important right now.  But, in verse 3, we notice this group coming with lanterns and torches.

They’re using human light to try to find the One who is the light of the world!  One of the fallacies of today in the meditation upon the Lord Jesus Christ is the attempt to take human light to find out something about the One who is the light of the world.  People try to put human logic and reason into the Lord, instead of taking logic and reason from the Scriptures.

When will man learn:  It’s not by might, power, learning, or human ingenuity, wisdom, training, or intelligence, but it’s “by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts”.  (Zechariah 4:6)  Picture the folly and the ridiculousness of someone with a little torch trying to find the light of the world.

Also in verse 3, we see that they come with weapons.  They have come with weapons to take the one who held the waters of Red Sea, who when releasing them destroyed Pharaoh and his host.  They’ve come with weapons to take the One who in one night slew 185,000; the One who one day spoke and the universe came to be.  They came with weapons to take the One who when Pilate rebuked Him in John 19:10 by saying, “Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?”, replied by saying, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above”.  And they’re coming to take him with mere weapons!

This large group of men comes up, and Jesus, who is the very God of very God, the One knowing all things from the beginning, turns and says, “Whom seek ye?”  For absolute, sheer drama, I personally don’t think this single even is excelled anywhere in the entire Passion Week.  Jesus steps out before the mob and says, “Whom seek ye?”

What did they answer?  They didn’t say, “We come seeking the Son of God”, or “we come seeking the Christ”.  They said, “We come seeking Jesus of Nazareth”.  They gave only an acknowledgement of His humanity.  (Does this sound familiar?)  I think it’s important to grasp the difference between the names “Jesus” and “Christ”.  “Jesus” is the name of the humanity of our Lord, and “Christ” is the name of His deity.  He is Jesus the Christ!  To just use one name to the exclusion of the other is to deny part of His being.  He isn’t God and man, he is the God-man; He’s the God-man!  He doesn’t have two personalities.  He’s one.  The God-Man.

“Jesus” is the name of His humanity.  Turn on the TV to most religious shows, and they sing about the darling, precious, sweetheart Jesus, and they have no concept of His identity.  So many of them ignore His deity and deny that He is God.  They talk and sing only of Jesus the man.

“Whom seek ye?”  “Jesus of Nazareth”; the man who comes from Nazareth.  That’s the one.  That’s the man.

The complete impact of the answer of our Lord is hidden in the KJV.  The KJV says, “I am he.”  If you will notice, the word “he” is in italics.  Anything in italics is not in the original text, but was added by the translators to try to “clarify” things; usually, it muddies things up instead of clarifying.  What Jesus said was, “I am”.  That’s all He said:  “I am”.

Hold your finger in John.  [Exodus 3:14]  Here, Moses is getting ready to go to the children of Israel.  In verse 13, Moses said [Exodus 3:13].  Often, when people talk to me of God, I am tempted to ask, or even have to ask, “Who is your God?”  I will see signs that say, “have you thanked God?”, and I don’t know who their God is based on their actions or words.  Well, I have a God, and my God has a name.  The name by which my God is known is Jesus the Christ, my Lord and Savior, His name and His title.  He’s the one who died for me; He’s the one who saved me and who is interceding for me and is upholding me with His might hand; He’s the one who’s coming back one day and who is going to take me to be with Him.  That’s my God.  That’s my God.

when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is [your God’s] name?” (for there are many gods), “what shall I say unto them?”  [Exodus 3:14a; And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM]  “That’s who I am.”  [Exodus 3:14b; and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.]  “If they want to know my name, you just tell them, ‘I AM’.”

“I AM” reveals the attribute and characteristic of our God that with Him, there is no past, present, or future, but just one eternal presence.  “Eternal” means without beginning or ending or existing outside of time, whereas “everlasting” means without ending.  Our God is eternal!  I AM!  That which we know as time is just a little tiny segment of eternity that has been cut out and we’ve been set in it for a little while, but one day, one day, we will be taken out of that little segment of time, where it will all be, I AM.

God says, “Now, you just tell them ‘I am’.”  That’s the name of God, and when you cry out in mock agony or ridicule that “I am”, you are using the name of God almighty in vain.  Technically, the same is true when you say something like, “oh my goodness”; you’re using His name in vain.  What does the Bible say about that?  “You shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

What does Matthew 5:37 say?  [Matthew 5:37]  Christians should simply say yes or no, and if they have to prop it up, they may not be telling the truth.  Truth doesn’t need any props.

[John 18]  He said, “Whom seek ye?” and they said, “Jesus of Nazareth”.  You know, we sing the song, “There’s Power In the Blood”?  In that song, we plead the promises of Jesus.  We sing of the name in many hymns, but here in John 18, we have a demonstration of the power of the name.

“Who shall I say sent me?”  “I am”  “whom seek ye?”  “Jesus of Nazareth”, and Jesus simply says, “I am”.  He pronounced his name.  “I am.”  It’s name that is above all names.  It’s a name that is powerful above all comparison.  If you want to talk about power, it’s right here in this name.

I’ve seen the results of a little bit of water in a boiler as it turned to steam when it has no outlet.  It will shave the rivets off just like a hot knife through butter under the power of a little steam.  We’ve all seen great blocks of steel and concrete that has been broken when a little water turned to ice.  Huge chunks of sidewalk can be turned up by a little root from a tree growing up under it.  I’ve stood beside and inside hydroelectric dams, and have been awed just thinking about the power of the water.  I’ve been in major typhoons and I’ve seen the devastation caused by tornadoes.  We can see all sorts of manifestations of power, but the world has never seen anything that compares to this:  The power of that name when He said, “I am”.

Look [verse 6].  Hundreds of soldiers falling down on their backs, as if their commanding officer had given the command, “fall down on your back”.  Down they went, instantly.  The scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the mob… they all went down.  Why?  Because this on said, “I am”!  Just think about the power of that name!

Now, why did this incident happen?  First, the Lord Jesus Christ wanted to show them that He was more than just Jesus of Nazareth.  He wanted to demonstrate that He was God Almighty Himself.  We read in 1 Corinthians 15 that Christ died for our sins, according to Scripture.  The emphasis is upon Christ, the Savior, not Jesus the man.  For Jesus in His humanity to die, we can understand easily.  It happens all the time that people will sacrifice themselves for others.  But, for Christ, in His deity to die, that’s difficult to grasp.  Christ is deity.  God died for our sins.  We read in Acts 20:28 that God Himself purchased the church with His own blood.  (Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.)

The blood that flowed from Jesus on Calvary was the blood of God.  You and I have been redeemed by the blood of God, which was shed as atonement for our sins.  And, here, He wanted to show the world that He’s not just a man, but also that He is God!  If you want to meditate upon something, meditate upon all the suffering of Jesus that is recorded in the gospels during His last week leading up to the crucifixion, then remember that He is God!  That was God suffering for you and for me.

He not only wanted to show that He was God, but he wanted to show them and us (the whole world) that His sacrifice was voluntary.  He could have uttered the word, and God the Father would have sent 10 million angels to His defense.  He could have uttered the word Himself, and dissolved the mob that was in front of Him.  He could have uttered the word and all of them would have fallen dead.

Contrary to much of the teaching in the world today that the crucifixion was a miscarriage of His plans, we read in this passage (if you have eyes to see and ears to hear) that His death was planned and was completely voluntary.  He said, in John 10:18, “No man taketh it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of myself.”  Jesus the Christ willingly and knowingly laid down His life for me.  He knew me when he died for me.  His suffering was a voluntary sacrifice.  It conformed to the will of the Father, and through suffering he showed obedience, but it was voluntary.  He loved me while I was dead in my sins and He died for me while I was dead in my sins.

Not only that, but I think He also wanted to teach that despite the fact that his sacrifice was voluntary and that no man took His life from Him, He wanted to teach that man still had a responsibility.  Many people err greatly and become disturbed and confused because they try to reconcile or harmonize in their own minds the sovereignty of God with the free will of man.  There isn’t a man alive who can reconcile those two things.  They’re reconciled in heaven.  Until we get there, we won’t see them completely.  I know they’re both true:  I know that Christ chose me from the foundation of the world, and I know that my election (this is talking about election, not salvation) wasn’t an accident or simply fortuitous, but it was predetermined.  But, I also know that I personally have to act.  I know both of these things to be true, and I don’t try to reconcile them.  I’m too busy rejoicing in the fact that I’m His to worry too much about how He decided.

But, in this passage, He shows the responsibility of man.  His sacrifice was voluntary, but he makes man come and arrest Him.  Man has responsibility.  Our Lord said on one occasion, in Matthew 18:7, “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”  That’s particularly true in regard to Israel.  Throughout the Bible, we’re taught that Israel is going to be persecuted, and we’re taught that Israel will suffer as no one has ever suffered, but that doesn’t justify anyone in heaping suffering upon them.  God said, “Woe unto him through whom the suffering comes.”

Man has a responsibility.  I’ve encountered individuals who say, “I want to be a Christian, but I have nothing to do with it.”  God knows who will accept the free gift of salvation from before the foundation of the world (how else would He know who would be the elect?), but man has a responsibility in that himself.  The individual must choose to accept the free gift.  God knows, but it’s man’s free will.

You can go back to Luke 15, in which there is a parable with four points to it.  Many people erroneously try to divide it up into four parables:  The parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, the parable of the prodigal son, and the parable of the elder son.  But, it’s all one parable.  You’ll miss the point if you try to make four parables out of it.  It’s one parable.

The lost sheep shows that Jesus the Christ is the shepherd seeking the lost sheep until He finds it.  The lost coin tells of the woman seeking the lost coin until she finds it.  That’s a picture of the Holy Spirit seeking the lost soul until He finds it.  Then, it tells of the prodigal son in the hog pen.  Although the sheep is sought until it’s found, and although the coin is sought until it’s found, that lost son has to get up and get out of the hog pen and go home.

I know someone who was witnessing to a man about being saved, but the man said, “I’m waiting”.  What was he waiting for?  Well, he replied, “I’m waiting for the light”.  What light?  He was waiting for the same light that came to Paul on the road to Damascus.  You can forget that.  That light came once, and it came to Paul, and it came only to Paul.  Here’s the light!  He that believes on the Lord Jesus shall be saved.  Man has a responsibility.  Because man has a responsibility, God the Father, through the Son, gave the commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature [all of creation].”  What He’s saying is that we are to go unto the entire world and tell them that Christ died for their sins and teach them about the Kingdom.  Tell the world that!

We have this event transpiring to show us the absolute helplessness of man.  All the time, we say, “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do…”  One word from the mouth of our Lord, and man is flat on his back and helpless.  There’s not a think in the world that man can do to save himself.

Now, here in verse 8, Jesus surrendered and said He would go, but He says, “I’m asking you one thing:  Let these go free.”  Leave them alone.  After being shown that power, only a fool would refuse this request.

These men are then separated from Him, and He goes alone, which reminds us again that his suffering and death was His treading the winepress of the wrath of God alone.  He suffered, bled, and died alone.  I did not contribute to my salvation; I did not help Him.  There’s nothing that I could do.  My salvation is made possible solely and simply by the Lord himself.  He’s the only one who suffered.  The disciples were permitted to go free.

We learn of two other things concerning the disciples:  There was work for them to do, so He dismisses them.  Then, we come to realize and appreciate the fact that in their greatest time of trouble, the Lord Jesus Christ was their means of support.  Let these men go!

Cast all your cares upon the Lord.  How many people try to carry their own burdens and worries?  They can’t do it.  Worry is the most common sin.  Worry is distrust and mistrust of God.  There’s a pagan philosophy that can help you, if you’re mindful of being helped.  “Why worry?  If you can do anything about it, do it.  If you can’t, forget it.”  That’s simply.  Cast all your cares upon the Lord.

They came for our Lord, but He demonstrated something that I hope you’ll bind in your heart and never forget:  The power that is His.  “I am.”  Hundreds of soldiers and God knows how many others fell flat on their backs from the power of that one phrase.  “I am.”  That’s the name that saves us.  There’s none other name given under heaven whereby you must be saved, and that’s the name of Jesus.

Jesus is the one who suffered, bled, and died.  Have you trusted Jesus the Christ as your savior, and have you confessed your faith and trust in Him before men?  He tells us that whoever is ashamed of Him before men; He will be ashamed of before the Father in heaven.  “I am.”  Power.

If you haven’t, walk the aisle now and say, “I trust Jesus as my savior”.  Maybe you’ve already trusted Him, but you want to acknowledge Him publicly before this group of people and follow that in the act of baptism.