Knocked Over by Five Letters

At SCC, we are continuing through our reading of the New Testament, which we are calling The Amazing Race.  Today, we’re in John 17, 18, and 19.  There is a part of John 18 that is this little, tiny, easily missed explosion of power.

In verses 4-6, the soldiers have come with Judas to arrest Jesus.  Jesus leaves the garden (or park in our terms) and walks out to meet them.  He asks them who it is that they want.  “Jesus of Nazareth”, they answer.  “I am He” Jesus replies.

And His answer physically knocks them down.


He says “I am He” and the guards fall down.


There is an idea that it was the words themselves.  If you remember in Exodus, Moses asks God what is name is.  God replies “I AM”.  God says His name is I AM because He always is, always was, always will be, ever unchanging, ever unable to be tamed.   He is the great “I AM”.

So, here, when the guards asks for Jesus, just a little of His power and majesty come out.  He says “I am He”, which is the same phrase as “I am” in Greek.  He says His name.  THE name.  The name of God.  “I AM”.

It floors those who have come for Him.

Remember, this is the voice that spoke and formed stars, galaxies, and the universe.  This is the voice that can separate light from darkness.  This is the voice that can begin, and end, life.  That voice is directed at these guards in the tiniest amount, and it bowls them over.

Other than the cool factor, why is this little tidbit thrown in John’s account?

Power.  It’s all about power.  Jesus had it.  He knew He had it.  He had to control it, to subdue it, keep it under wraps just so that the soldiers could arrest Him.  If He had let it go, at all, they would have been done.  What was happening was evil, and Jesus had to control Himself to let it happen.  To Him.  He could have stopped it, but didn’t.

He does the same thing in our lives.  We often face hard times, and wonder why God doesn’t intervene.  He is working out a bigger plan, with greater goals, and blessings for us that we can’t see.  We can respond in two ways.  One, the soldiers who were knocked down chose to forget it, and later mistakenly assumed Jesus was weak since He didn’t save Himself.  John saw the same thing, and understood that Jesus was up to something greater.

Which one will you choose?  When God doesn’t unleash His power and stop the injustice, is it because He can’t, or because He is controlling it for something greater?  It’s your choice.