S (Scripture): John 18:4 Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?” 18:5 They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.) 18:6 So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground. 18:7 Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
O (Observation): I am struck by the actions of the soldiers once Jesus identifies himself with the special self-identification of “I AM.” The soldiers are in essence the enemy at this point. Jesus’ declaration is too much for them to handle; this a theophany (a visible manifestation to humankind of God). So as Jesus reveals himself to the soldiers, the soldiers recoil and prostrate themselves and Jesus has to ask them a second time, “Who are you looking for?”
My commentary has this to say about this episode:
This is a vivid reminder to the reader of the Gospel that even in this dark hour, Jesus holds ultimate power over his enemies and the powers of darkness, because he is the one who bears the divine Name.
A (Application): Being in the presence of God has a profound affect on me. I remember growing up in the church, when we decorated for Christmas. My dad would bring me and my brothers along. And as we hung out in the sanctuary, I felt transported to another reality. I’m sure I was just goofing off and getting in trouble, but that space has a special place in my memory.
Over time, I have grown to understand that God is outside of that sanctuary, too. Where would that be? And how would I know that God was present? I think this text reminds me that when I recoil and have a sense to lay prostrate, I’m most likely in God’s presence.
In these moments, I gain a profound sense of humility. I want to “take off my shoes” and stand on holy ground. Ideas flow and all seems right with the world in these moments.
Have you experienced being in the presence of God? What was it like?
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P (Prayer): Lord, “I AM,” be with us and make your presence known to us, in the breaking of the bread, in a splash of water, in the sanctuary, in our homes, in the fields and factories…everywhere. Amen.