After Jesus had finished praying for us, he went to a garden with his disciples. This was a garden Jesus frequented, and Judas knew he’d be there. Judas brought soldiers with torches, lanterns, and weapons to arrest Jesus. Jesus knew exactly why there were there and what they were going to do, but he asked: “Who is it you want?”
They answered: “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus replied: “I am he.”
When he said those words, the soldiers drew back and fell onto the ground. John 18.
Why did they draw back and fall?
We don’t know for sure. Maybe there was some powerful force that came from those words. Maybe the ground shook. Or maybe the reality of what Jesus was claiming was too much for the soldiers to handle.
Earlier in John, Jesus had said:
- “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35
- “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
- “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” John 10:9
- “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
- “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26
Jesus had told people who he was, why he had come, and the benefit of following him. But there was even more to it.
When Jesus said “I am,” he also claimed his deity.
“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58
These words pointed back to when God spoke to Moses, telling Moses that He would be with him when he led the Israselites out of Egypt:
And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “ I AM who I AM . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘ I AM has sent me to you.’ ”
God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord , the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.” Exodus 3:12-15
Jesus loves us.
Jesus came to save us.
Our substance and life are through him.
Jesus was. Jesus is. Then. Now. And Forever.
Jesus is I AM.