Gospel Words: the Power and the Grace of the Name

John 18:1‑9  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
How strikingly the divine design of the Fourth Gospel differs from the three Synoptics, as seen in their reports of Gethsemane on the night of the betrayal! Who left to his own feelings would have so dwelt on his Master's agony as the beloved disciple? Yet he says not one word about it, though he alone of the Evangelists was chosen to be near the Lord in that affecting and mysterious scene, when He repaired again and again to them and found them sleeping. It fell to the others to record His exceeding sorrow in realizing the depths into which He was just about to enter; because it bore directly on the rejection of the Messiah, on the work the Righteous Servant had in hand, and on the Son of man, as perfectly dependent on His Father in the hour of woe as in all the activities of power in loving service.
Here shines out the glory of His person. Had we only the witness of John, rich as it is, what should we know of His anguish in anticipation of all before Him as He prayed to His Father, and of His entire submission whatever it cost? If most appropriately Luke alone mentions an angel strengthening Him and His sweat as clots of blood, here we see and hear the Son of the Father, to Whom He had commended His own in chap. 17.
“Jesus having said these things went out with his disciples over the winter-torrent Kidron, where was a garden into which he entered, he and his disciples. And Judas also that betrayed him knew the place; because Jesus often resorted thither with his disciples. Judas therefore, having received the band and officials from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that were coming upon him, went forth and said to them, Whom seek ye They answered, Jesus the Nazarene. He said to them, I am [he]. And Judas that betrayed him stood with them. When therefore he said, I am [he], they went backward, and fell to the ground. Again therefore he asked them, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus the Nazarene. Jesus answered, I told you that I am [he]: if therefore ye seek me, let these go away; that the word might be fulfilled which he said, Of those whom thou hast given me, I lost not one” (vers. 1-9).
What communion with the Father, what prayer, what intercession, what tender care for the feeble disciples, what self-sacrificing interest on their behalf, what vigilant love of the good Shepherd, what pity for Israel, what outgoing of heart for the sheep not of this fold, had not been known in that garden! Yes, Judas knew it, and took his measures accordingly under Satan to gratify the chief priests and Pharisees. Thither he led the band with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Men who do not know the Lord talk of His “limitations,” and forget that He is God, the Word become flesh, but no more ceasing to be God than a man can cease to be man. Jesus knew all things that were coming on Him, the same Jesus Who had gone through all in the profoundest grief yet dependence on the Father, for He was as truly man, the perfect man. Now when horrors began to thicken, what calm pervaded His every word and act! He went forth and said to them, Whom seek ye? They answered, Jesus the Nazarene; and on His reply, I am [He], they went backward and fell to the ground.
God indeed attested what was due to that Name; for He too was God no less than the Father and the Holy Spirit. Nor was there ever a moment more befitting. So Judas the betrayer stood with them, and he too with them fell to the ground. What a testimony to their conscience, as well as to His glory!
When the wicked Ahaziah sent a captain with his fifty to take the Tishbite prophet as he sat alone on a hill, again and again came fire down from heaven to consume the captains and their fifties. Jesus full of grace and truth came to save the lost. Not a word more did He utter. He owned Himself Jesus the Nazarene. It was enough. In His name shall bow all beings heavenly, earthly, and infernal, and every tongue confess Him Lord to God the Father's glory. It was but a witness then to that glory; but how blessed and suited and eloquent, if they had not had deaf ears, seared consciences, and hearts harder than stone! He Whose name laid them prostrate could have in a moment consigned them to death for everlasting judgment. But no! He came that God might be glorified in His death for sin, to set free every sinner that believes in Him.
And so it was of His grace that, after the manifestation of power, He asked them again, Whom seek ye? As they gave the same reply, He answered, I told you that I am [He]; if therefore ye seek Me, let these go away. O what grace now manifested on behalf of His own, so unworthy of His love, yet loved unto the end, loved though He knew all would forsake Him and flee, and that one who ventured nearer in that night of desertion would there thrice deny that he knew Him! It was a fulfillment of chap. 17:12; but great as it was, how little compared with all that those words mean and guarantee! And indeed such is His love that it covers all things great and small.
How are you who read these lines treating Him and His love? He, the Son of God and Lord of glory, was nothing to Judas and the Jews, but for the one to sell and the other to buy; and He submitted to be the willing prisoner, and the willing sacrifice, that you might hear and live. You have heard, but cannot live without faith in Him Who is the life eternal—life now that you may live of Him now—life evermore that you may have Him your life for the body and heaven as well as now for your soul on earth. But forget not that to hear and not believe on Him leaves you worse unspeakably than if you had never heard. Oh then hear, believe, and live.