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Gems in the Gospel of John

Part 74 – John 18:5

The man in the garden

So it came very nearly full cycle. The problems started in a garden, the garden of Eden. Now they were beginning to come to their resolution – in a garden.

It is impossible to tell how much of this was done by prior arrangement between Jesus and Judas. Perhaps Jesus had quietly made it completely clear to Judas that they were going to follow their usual practice of walking in the garden in the cool of the evening even although the city was in a somewhat dangerous tumult and he was the centre of the problem.

Anyway, when they got there the posse turned up, as expected, and Jesus asked who they were after – as if he didn’t know!

The answer they got surprised them. “I am he” as the NIV has it. Basically ‘I AM’, once again the Old Testament name for God. ‘ego eimi’ in the Greek.

Seven times John has told us about an occasion when Jesus said of himself ‘I am, something’, or as the scholars say ‘I am – with a predicate’. Six times he has told us that Jesus said of himself plain ‘I AM’, even if it was not always clear that it meant any more than ‘it’s me’. On this the last and most significant occasion when Jesus says those two words it was quite clear to the arresting posse what he meant. They ‘fell to the ground’’. They immediately recognized, even in the dark only illuminated by flaring torches, that here was someone very special indeed. Part of the Triune God, of the Trinity, stood in front of them – though of course they would have had no idea that that was the true situation. It is a mighty puzzle how they managed to recover themselves so that they could arrest him. (I wonder whether they actually tied his hands together or anything until they had to do so when they met the top people in Jerusalem.)

The message for us is crystal clear. This was God. God the Son was on his way to his great sacrifice for our sins – for yours and for mine. The world would never be the same again. To that point men and women had had no satisfactory and satisfying way out of their inability to live good decent and upright lives. All had been clouded by their inability to do so. Now as Jesus led them out of the garden (I am sure he must have walked in front, leading the way!) the great process that would change all mankind’s situation was beginning. The personification of God in this world of ours was about to present himself as a sacrifice for sin – yours and mine. Praise be!

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