When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Why did they draw back and fall to the ground? They’re the ones who came in force—with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Did Jesus blast them with some kind of supernatural weapon?
No, it was Jesus’s words that sent them reeling. In Greek, He said, “Ego eimi,” (Εγω ειμι) which just means, “I am,” (not “I am He”—the “He” is in the English translation for clarity, but it’s not in the Greek.) Moreover, “ego eimi” isn’t the normal way to say “I am.” That would just be “eimi” by itself. “Ego eimi” is the, “I AM,” of Exodus 3:14.
Note: “ego eimi” is, itself, a translation. Jesus wasn’t speaking in Greek; He was speaking in Aramaic. Presumably, He actually said something like, “ehyeh” (אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה). That’s the special way God said, “I AM” to Moses from the burning bush.
Jesus is telling them they’re about to arrest God.
I’d fall back too.
This didn’t just happen in a vacuum. The detachment of troops and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees had to be aware of the rumor that Jesus is the Messiah. Now they show up with the lanterns and torches you’d use to search out someone who’s hiding.
Instead, Jesus walks right up to them and asks, “Whom are you seeking?” When they say, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus says He’s their guy.
That makes His claim to deity credible. They’re a very intimidating force, which would make anyone want to run and hide. Yet this guy just comes up and announces that He’s the one they’re looking for—and uses the divine personal pronoun to say it.
“I’m not intimidated by you because I’m your creator.”
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.