← Back to Lenten Reflections
March 26, 2021
1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.
The gospel of John quite self-consciously styles itself as a new Genesis. Recall the opening lines of the gospel: “In the beginning...was the Word.” Now we find that we are once again in a garden, and Jesus is presented to us as the new Adam. The old Adam refused to do God’s will. He reached out and took that which he should not have. Tragically, through one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners, leading to death (Romans 5.19). But the new Adam succeeds where the old Adam failed. Jesus enters the garden as one whose lips have prayed: “Not my will, but yours be done.” Rather than taking that which he should not, Jesus willingly hands himself over to those who seek his life in compliance with the Father’s will. Through one man’s obedience, the many are made righteous, leading to new life.
When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he went into hiding. But God, who is rich in mercy, engages in a search and rescue mission. The first question God asks in the garden is: Where are you? Now when Judas leads a band of men on a search and destroy mission, the first question Jesus asks in the garden is: Whom do you seek? The arresting party declares, “Jesus of Nazareth.” When Jesus responds with words that can be simply translated “I am he” or “That’s me,” they draw back and fall to the ground. Why? The words Jesus speaks literally mean, “I AM.” Those who engage in this dark deed perhaps have just enough sense to realize that the person they are seeking to take into custody may not be a mere man, but “I AM” himself.
Peter, of course, is slow on the uptake. He fumbles with his sword and manages to lop off the ear of a servant. But Jesus tells him to put away the sword because this is the cup the Father has given him to drink. The irony is that Jesus has just issued what many refer to as his “high-priestly prayer” for his followers in chapter 17. But now he is dragged before the high priest in Jerusalem who shares none of his sympathies. The stage is being set. The false high priest will condemn the true high priest so that the new Adam might reverse the failures of the old Adam.
How can Jesus confront his adversaries with such poise, and how can we model his composure in our own lives as a result?