Day 22 – Leaders of the people capture Jesus

Bible reading: John 18:1–7, 12–13

Soldiers take Jesus to the leader of the priests

1 When Jesus had finished praying, he and his disciples went out. They went across the Kidron valley. On the other side, there was a garden. Jesus and his disciples went into it. 2 Judas, who sold Jesus to his enemies, knew the garden. He knew the place because Jesus and his disciples had met there often. 3 The leaders of the priests and the Pharisees sent a group of soldiers and some officers with Judas. He led these soldiers and officers to the garden. The soldiers had weapons and they carried lights.

18:3The soldiers were Roman soldiers. The officers were Jews who may have worked like police at God's Great House (the Temple).

4 Jesus knew everything that would soon happen to him. He went towards them and he asked them, ‘Who are you looking for?’ 5 They answered, ‘Jesus, who comes from Nazareth.’ Jesus said, ‘That is who I am.’

Judas, who sold Jesus to his enemies, was standing there with the soldiers. 6 When Jesus said the words, ‘I am,’ the soldiers quickly moved away from him. They fell down to the ground. 7 So Jesus asked them again, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They said, ‘Jesus, who comes from Nazareth.’

John 18:1-7 EasyEnglish Bible (EASY)

12 The group of soldiers, with their captain and the Jewish officers, took hold of Jesus and they tied his arms. 13 They led him first to Annas, who was the father of Caiaphas's wife. Caiaphas was the leader of the priests that year.

John 18:12-13 EasyEnglish Bible (EASY)

Reflection

Why did the Jewish religious leaders hate Jesus so much? It was partly because they were jealous of his popularity with the people. It was partly because they thought he was teaching people the wrong things about God’s kingdom. He was not very concerned with what they considered as the essential ways to be pleasing to God. Things like how to keep the Sabbath holy, how to worship and how to obey many small rules in daily personal life.

Spreading fear

The religious leaders also feared that Jesus’ great popular support would cause the Romans to destroy the country. Fear, jealousy and strict opinions still keep people from the true person of Jesus.

‘Who are you looking for?’ Jesus asked the angry crowd who had come to arrest him.

‘Jesus from Nazareth,’ they reply.

In our English translations, Jesus replies ‘I am he.’ But that fails to give the original meaning of his two words, actually ‘I am’. That was God’s name which God had revealed to Moses centuries before. God is the ‘I am’ – the ever-living One (Exodus 3:14). Every Jew knew that.

The soldiers step back

And that is why the soldiers stepped back, and fell to the ground in respect and fear. No more secrets about who Jesus is. He brings the ever-living God into human history. That is why his followers rejoice to worship him.