3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,”[a] they replied.
“I am he,”[b] Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I am he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”[ Acts 18:3-9
This passage of Scripture has spoken so powerfully to me throughout my life in Him. It has inspired me, encouraged me, emboldened me, and kept me. It has reminded me, and reminds me still, that no matter what is happening, Jesus Christ reigns supreme in all of it. It is He, and not the forces of darkness that have the Authority. It is He, not the evil that is everywhere, that speaks the last word. The Word says that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. He is the beginning and He is the end. He is also the Master of all that can possibly come in between all of that.
There is no doubt that darkness has engulfed our culture. Lawlessness increases on every level of society. Acts and behaviors that were once unthinkable have found entry into the mainstream of our culture. The Word of God says that the day would come when "good will be called evil, and evil good." Those days are upon us. Such days are real. What we need to know is that in the midst of these days.....He is more real. In the midst of these days, He still rules over them. The darkness may engulf us, but it can never engulf Him. That is what I see in the passage from John 18.
Scripture says that the leading priests sent a battalion of Roman soldiers as well as the Temple guards to arrest Jesus. They entered the Garden of Gethsemane fully armed, bearing "blazing torches." I've always been amazed that with all the "artificial" light they carried, they still couldn't see Jesus, the Light of the world. As they came, before them stood Jesus Christ, and his little band of followers. Picture the scene; hundreds of men, trained for battle, moving resolutely toward one man and his little group. Except that He was not just one man. He was One Man, fully God, and fully Man, and He, not they, was the Master of the encounter.
As they came toward Him, He stepped forward to meet them, asking who they sought? "Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "I Am He," was His answer, and with that answer, we see the matchless, glorious, cannot be defeated power of Christ. They fell at His feet. The ones who came to arrest, were themselves arrested by the power and presence of the King. Again He asked, again they told Him, and again, they fell back before Him. In all of it, His Lordship shows forth. Though He knew the cross awaited Him, and that these men would take Him, mistreat Him, and then crucify Him, He was never at their mercy, He was always the Lord in the midst of it. As He would later tell Pilate, "You have no power over Me except what My Father allows you." He ordered them to let His followers go, and they did. Then He submitted to their arrest. He did so because it was all for the glory of His Father and Himself. It seemed like the darkness had won, but for those who are His, it never does. It never can. He may allow it, but He reigns over it, and if we'll trust Him, we'll see, and be swept up in His glory.
So I, we, must live in the truth of all of this. Darkness will always be coming towards us. If we're His, He will always be stepping forward before us to meet it. And as He meets it, He exercises His power and authority over it. The evil intent of the world and the devil behind it is powerless against Him. All of the weapons in whatever form they might take, must fall at His feet in any confrontation when He speaks these words; "I Am He." Against that truth, regardless of the extent of the darkness, that darkness must yield. It is in that confidence that we must live. Do we, do you, live in it now?
May we live now in that confidence. Whatever approaches, may we know He already steps forward, before us, to meet it. And no matter the strength of the threat, He speaks those words, "I Am He." The darkness, the threat, is real. He is more real.