This post was supposed to be last Tuesday. However, the second of these two questions needed further research (it stumped me), so the post was delayed.
Q: Why do the soldiers draw back and fall to the ground when Jesus says, “I am he”?
A: What Jesus says in Greek is simply I AM. It is the divine name of the LORD—who was and is and always shall be. It is the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is nothing here to indicate that these men comprehended that. If they had, they would not have then proceeded to arrest and bind him. It seems rather that Jesus is displaying his divine authority and flexing his almighty muscle, so to speak. We are told in Paul’s letters to the Philippians that “at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus is LORD to the glory of God the Father.” (2:11).
Whether every knee wants to be subjected or not, they will be. This seems to be a small display of that ultimate subjugation.
Q:Why are the Jewish leaders worried about not being able to eat the Passover since Jesus and his disciples already ate the Passover. Hadn’t they eaten it yet? Were they supposed to eat it on Thursday night? Was it already too late?
A: According to the command of God given to Moses, on the 10th of the first month of the Jewish calendar (Abib), every household selected a passover lamb for the household. On the 14th day, the community was to slaughter their lambs at twilight. Now, bear in mind that the Jewish day ended and began at sundown. So as the sun is setting on the 14th day it becomes the 15th day. It was to be eaten during that night and in the morning, the leftovers were to be burned.
At Sinai, the Lord reinforced this concept by telling his people, “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover be left until morning.” (Exodus 34:25)
But the second time the Israelites celebrated the Passover, a problem arose. There were some people who were ceremonially unclean because they had come into contact with a corpse. Moses asks the Lord what to do and the Lord tells him, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If anyone of you or your posterity is unclean because of a corpse, or is far away on a journey, he may still keep the Lord’s Passover. On the fourteenth day of the second month, at twilight, they may keep it.”
[By the way, in Deuteronomy 16, the Lord specifies that the Passover lamb can only be sacrificed and eaten at the place the Lord choses, which would be Jerusalem.]
So it seems from the words of the text that, by the time the Jewish leaders went to the Praetorium, it was already after dawn and too late to eat the Passover. So perhaps they were worried about being able to eat the other Passover one month later.
I turned to a commentary called The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, which is written by a Jewish convert named Alfred Edersheim. He notes that, though the traditional Passover meal was already eaten and done by sunrise, there were other festival meals to be had during the longer celebration of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. These other offerings and meals were called Chagigah, and were supposed to be offered on the first day of any Jewish high feast.
The glacier of God’s justice grinds gruesomely forward in this chapter of Jesus’ death. You see Jesus stand and steadfastly fulfill every prophecy ever made about him, down to the smallest details concerning broken bones and piercings.
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Lord, the Great “I Am.” At the sound of your voice, the heavens will roll up like a garment and the mountains will flee. Every knee will bow and confess that you are Lord to the glory of your Father. Yet you humbly set aside your rights as God and allowed yourself to be bound, beaten, mistreated, falsely accused, and condemned so that we, like Barabbas, might go free on your account. You have spoken the truth to us. You are a King, the King, and your kingdom has no end.
I thank you that you have made me your own child in my baptismal waters. You gave me the Spirit of Truth that I might hear and know you, the only Son of God, and trust that you have done all things for me to reconcile me to my true Father. I thank you for placing my needs above your needs and patiently suffering affliction on my behalf.
But I have not been so selfless and patient, especially in the face of affliction. Like Peter, I vacillate between being zealous for you in all of the wrong ways and being ashamed of you when it saves me face and protects my own hide. I want to work all things and use all thing for my advantage, even as I mistakenly think that I do it for you and your kingdom.
Forgive my arrogance. Forgive my cowardice. Forgive my attachment to the ways of this world. Break me free from all of this and give me your Spirit that I might think and act according to your mind and the according to the will of your heavenly Father and mine. Give me strength to make the good confession when I am called to do so in this world, in the face of opposition and the lies of this world. Keep my ears ever open to listen to your Voice in your Word.
- Jesus went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron.
- Jesus and his disciples entered a garden.
- Jesus knew all things that would come upon Him
- Jesus went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
- Jesus said to them, “I am He.”
- Jesus asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?”
- Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,”
- Jesus lost none of those given to him.
- Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”
- Jesus answered the high priest, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.”
- Jesus answered the officer who struck him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”
- What Jesus said about the way he would be killed was fulfilled.
- Jesus answered Pilate, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
- Jesus answered Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
- Jesus answered Pilate, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
- Judas came to the garden with a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees.
- Judas betrayed Jesus.
- Judas also stood with them.
The detachment of troops and officers
- They answered Jesus, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
- They drew back and fell to the ground.
- They said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
- They arrested Jesus and bound Him.
- They led Him away to Annas first
- One of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand and said, “Do You answer the high priest like that?”
- Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium.
- Simon Peter drew his sword.
- Simon Peter struck the high priest’s servant.
- Simon Peter cut off Malchus’ right ear.
- Simon Peter followed Jesus.
- Peter stood at the door outside.
- Peter said to the servant girl, “I am not.”
- Peter stood with the servants and officers outside the priests courtyard and warmed himself.
- Simon Peter stood and warmed himself.
- Peter denied that he was one of Jesus’ disciples by saying, “I am not.”
- Peter then denied again that he had been seen in the garden with Jesus.
- John followed Jesus.
- John was known to the high priest
- John went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest.
- John went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in.
The high priests & Jewish leaders
- Caiaphas advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
- The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.
- Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
- They themselves did not go into the Praetorium.
- They answered Pilate and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”
- The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,”
- Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!”
Those outside in the priest’s courtyard
- The servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”
- Now the servants and officers made a fire of coals.
- The servants and officers stood there and they warmed themselves.
- They said to Peter, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?”
- One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?”
- Pilate then went out to the Jewish leaders and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”
- Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.”
- Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
- Pilate answered Jesus, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
- Pilate therefore said to Jesus, “Are You a king then?”
- Pilate said to Jesus, “What is truth?”
- Pilate went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all. But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?”
The calm consistency of Jesus vs. the extreme reactionary nature of Peter really shows through. Jesus stands and speaks the truth powerfully, confidently, and boldly. Peter goes from the rash action of cutting off a man’s ear with a machete (most likely aiming to do more damage to the head) to denying Jesus and going out a weeping like a baby.
Lord Jesus Christ, you have authority over all flesh. You came from the Father and have returned to the Father. You proclaimed the Father’s name to those whom the Father gave to you. You set yourself apart from this world and gave yourself in the ultimate sacrifice that we may be set apart form this world and sacrifice ourselves to live for you.
You have promised eternal life to us who have been given to you by the Father. You have taken me out of this world and, through the words of your apostles, have brought me into a saving knowledge of you and your Father. Your Father protects me from the evil one and keeps me safe in this world. As the Father is in you and you are in the Father, so you have also promised to be in us, your people.
But I confess that, for all the hardship you endured to bring me out of this world, I so easily return to living in this world as a citizen of this world. I confess that for all of the promises of protection, I have gone outside of your safe boundaries into which you had set me and wandered into danger by my own will. You have given me the Father’s words and your words and the apostles’ words and I have not been unified with them, not gladly received them, but instead have kept them at a distance from my mind, heart, and life. They sit on a shelf so that I may sit enthroned as the king over my own life. Forgive me for my arrogance. Forgive me for taking your blessings for granted. Forgive me for despising the sanctified life that is a gift from you and despising your Word which brings me eternal life.
As you have prayed the Father, so may he do for us, your people. Father, unify your people in the truth of your word—the word which you gave your Son and which he gave to us. Keep us through your name. May your Son’s joy be fulfilled in us. Do not take us out of the world, but keep us from the evil one. Sanctify us by the truth—your Word is truth. May you continue to be in your Son and your Son in us that we may all be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you sent Jesus and have loved us as you love him. Bring us finally to be where you are and where your Son is also. Let us behold your glory!
Jesus spoke these words
The Son gives eternal life to as many as the Father has given Him.
Jesus glorified the Father on earth.
Jesus finished the work the Father gave him to do.
The Son had glory with the Father before the world was.
Jesus manifested the Father’s name.
Jesus prays for those whom the Father gave him.
Jesus kept them in the Father’s name while he was in the world.
Jesus is no longer in the world.
Jesus has given them his word.
The Son sent those whom the Father gave him into the world.
Jesus sanctifies himself for their sakes.
Jesus prays for them: Keep them from the evil one. Sanctify them by Your truth—your word. The Son is in the Father.
The Son gave them glory.
Jesus has known the Father.
The Son declares the Father’s name to those whom the Father has given him.
The Father has given the Son authority over all flesh.
The Father sent Jesus Christ.
The Father gave the Son men out of the world.
The Father has given them the words which he gave the Son.
The Father keeps through his name those he has given the Son.
The Father sent the Son into the world.
The Father is in the Son.
The Father gave the Son glory.
The Father loves the Son.
The Father loves those he has given to the Son.
The Father gives the Son glory.
Those whom the Father gave the Son
They kept the Father’s word.
They know all the things which the Father gave to the Son are from the Father.
They have received the words the Father gave them.
They have known surely that the Son came forth from the Father.
They have believed that the Father sent the Son.
Jesus is glorified in those whom the Father gave him.
Those whom the Father gave the Son are still in the world.
They are sanctified by the truth.
They are in the Father and the Son.
Those whom the Father gave the Son will be where the Son is.
Those whom the Father gave the Son will behold the Son’s glory.
They have known that the Father sent the Son.
The love with which the Father loved the Son is in them.
The Son is in them.
The son of perdition
The son of perdition is lost, so that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
The world has hated them because they are not of the world.
The world will know that the Father sent the Son because of their unity.
The world has not known the Father.
Others will believe in Jesus through the disciple’s word.