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A Powerful Name

Lent 2022

Read John 18:1-18

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.

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man's disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

We may overlook a small detail contained in the early moments of Jesus’ arrest. Judas leads Roman soldiers, temple police, and other religious leaders to capture Jesus. But as they do this, there is a moment where they draw back and fall to the ground. What could cause such an occurrence?

Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus has invoked the very personal and sacred name of God, “I Am,” to refer to himself. “I Am the Bread of Life.” “I Am the Light of the World.” “I Am the Good Shepherd.” “I Am the Vine.” Now, as they approach Jesus, he asks them, “Whom do you seek?” They answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus responds by saying, “I Am.” He doesn’t employ a conversational, “Oh, that’s me. I’m Jesus.” He invokes the personal and sacred name of God, “I Am.”

I can’t help but recall the words of Philippians 2:6-11:

Though he was in the form of God, [Christ Jesus] did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

God’s name has such power that, when Jesus’ speaks, it casts down those who came to arrest him. Only his willingness could enable his arrest, beating, crucifixion, and death. A day will come when all will bow to his name. For many this will be by compulsion and fear, but for those of us found in Christ, it will be with praises, great joy, and peace, for this is the name by which we have been saved! (Acts 4:12)

Prayer: Jesus, I praise your holy name. By it, I have been saved from my sin, with it, I was claimed as your child, and in it is great power. Amen.

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