Posted on December 17, 2014
#84: Overcome By Love
Merry Christmas! Blessings to you and your family in this busy season. Thanks so much for joining me for Knowing Jesus. I’m honored that you’ve taken the time to be here, and hope this post will give you even more reason to celebrate the Savior! Let’s get right to it.
Open your Bible and read Mark 14:43-52. For parallel accounts, look at Matthew 26:47-56; Luke 22:47-53; and John 18:1-11.
In dark Gethsemane, Jesus was trying to rouse His sleeping disciples for the third time. A sound that had begun off in the distance was growing louder: the sound of footsteps—many footsteps. Jesus urged His friends, “Rise up! Here comes my betrayer.”
A crowd carrying torches came into view. John’s gospel calls the crowd a cohort, a term used to refer to as many as six hundred men. Armed with clubs and swords they surged into the garden, a ridiculously large show of force against so few. According to John, Jesus—”knowing all that was going to happen to Him” and not surprised at all—made the first move, stepping toward the mob and asking, “Who is it you want?”
The leaders boldly stated, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Christ Jesus answered with two words: “Ego eimi.” I AM.
Do you recognize the term? Centuries earlier, when the Lord God appeared to Moses in a burning bush in the Sinai Desert and commissioned Moses to lead Israel out of Egyptian slavery, Moses asked God a question. “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God responded, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ . . . This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3:13-15)
If you haven’t already (okay, even if you have!), look at John 18:6. When Jesus identified Himself by the divine covenant name for the Lord God, what happened? The sheer power of His name knocked the whole huge mob backwards to the ground! Can you picture the stunned company of soldiers, temple guards, and officials struggling to their feet, wondering what hit them? Freeze this frame in your mind; we’ll come back to it in a moment.
Judas moved toward Jesus saying, “Greetings, Teacher!”
As Judas’ lips brushed His cheek, Jesus cut through the pretense: “Judas, with a kiss you betray the Son of Man?” A kiss, the warm expression of friendship and respect, was instantly perverted satan-style into a Judas-kiss—universally recognized ever after as the symbol of betrayal.
Peter, maybe still groggy and certainly shaken, drew his sword and tried to come to Jesus’ aid. Swinging, he cut off the right ear of Malchus, a servant of the high priest. But Jesus commanded, “No more of this!” Touching Malchus’ ear Jesus healed him, then said to Peter, “Put your sword away—for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think that I cannot ask My Father, and He will supply me now with more than twelve legions of angels? But how then will the scriptures be fulfilled? Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Frame this instant right next to that of the power of His name, and you see love portrayed. With full knowledge of all that was going to take place, Jesus had both the power and the means to stop it right at the start. Yet, in the words of Charles Wesley, “He emptied Himself of all but love,” allowing Himself to be bound and led away.
Make no mistake. Jesus wasn’t overcome by scheming Pharisees, a betraying disciple, or a cohort of soldiers. He was overcome by love for you and me.
“Come, Thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
Born Thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a King.
Born to reign in us forever,
Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.
By Thine own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By Thine all-sufficient merit,
Raise us to Thy glorious throne.”
© Diane McLoud 2014