Lent Reflection: Thursday 26th March 2020
Bible Reading: John 18:1-11
Imagine growing up with a family friend, someone who seems incredibly normal, and then later on finding out that they are in fact someone immensely famous.
In our reading today, Jesus has gone with His disciples out of Jerusalem to a garden on the other side of the Kidron Valley. It is here that the true reality of His identity is dramatically brought to centre stage.
A group of Roman soldiers and Jewish police are led by one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot. They have come to arrest Jesus.
As they approach, Jesus asks them, “Who are you looking for?” “Jesus of Nazareth”, they reply. Jesus says, “I am he.”
This might seem a simple, straightforward answer, but it is a reply that is packed with great meaning. Because, in the Old Testament (the early part of the Bible), God reveals that His name is ‘I AM’.
In one part of the Old Testament, God asks a man named Moses to go and tell His people that God is going to help them. When Moses asks God, “Who shall I say is sending me?” God replies, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (You can read about this in the second book of the Bible, Exodus chapter 3.)
Now, in an amazing moment of revelation, when Jesus replies to the soldiers and the police, they have a sudden, although seemingly temporary, understanding of who Jesus actually is.
Romans soldiers and Jewish police alike fall to the floor, basically in an act of worship in front of Jesus.
And why? Because something inside of them, whether they realised it or not, recognises that the man Jesus who was stood in front of them was God.
Jesus is not just a man who is working on behalf of God; He is not just another prophet who has been sent by God.
Jesus is God.
And the fact that this action takes place in a garden should not be overlooked. The first encounter between God and Satan takes place right at the beginning of Bible in the Garden of Eden (you can read about this in Genesis chapter 2 and 3).
Here, Satan, represented by a serpent, deceives Eve and then Adam into eating from a tree that God had warned them not to eat from. When God had found out what had happened, He cursed the serpent and warned him of the consequences to come.
Now, coming full circle, God confronts an agent of Satan in a garden, this time Judas, who had betrayed Jesus.
This won’t be the last time that a garden plays a significant setting for an encounter with Jesus.
But Jesus knows that there is one final, greater battle to come, with Satan himself. This is why He doesn’t allow His disciples to fight for Him. It is something that He must face alone, because it is something that only God Himself can do.
Finally, how do we know these things happened? Because we probably have an eyewitness testimony, someone who was there and who recounted this story over and over to anyone who would listen. A man named Malchus, whose ear was cut off by Peter.
To tell us his name, means that Malchus was most likely known to the early church. To be known means he had more than likely become a follower of Jesus and himself part of the early church.
You see, we can rely on what has been written about Jesus, because the gospels are good testimony recorded and produced by people who cared about what they were writing, and because it was important to them.
It was important, because they knew who Jesus was, and is, and will be. Jesus is the great I AM, He is God Himself, come to dwell with, and to rescue, and save His people.
And it is at the name of Jesus that every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess that He is God.
Lord Jesus, we pray that you would open our hearts and minds to know that you are God. We ask that, by your Holy Spirit, you would give us greater understanding of all these amazing things that you have done.
Lord Jesus, as we believe in you, so we worship you, so we glorify your holy name.
To you be honour and glory and praise, forever and ever.