I AM He

“When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” — John 18:6

Jesus Christ is the Word of God. It is a statement that’s seemingly simple, but the implications of this are endless, and trying to truly behold its meaning in its entirety is beyond the scope of our limited minds. When God spoke “let there be light”, this speech or the knowledge of God was Christ; who Himself is God. Yet God is not two or three but one being and three persons. That thought is daunting, isn’t it? While it is very important to stick to the creeds and scripture to try and understand what we can know about the Trinity, we must admit that there is so much mystery to it that is beyond our scope.

Our life is completely secure in this saviour’s hands who shed His blood and suffered the father’s wrath for us.

Whenever I read the fast-paced gospel of Mark, I often wonder what it was like for the disciples to be around this Word of God. There in front of them stood the Son of God, perfect in every way. The incarnate Christ’s every thought, deed, and desire was God-glorifying and untainted by sin. In spite of the limitations of the flesh, the God-man that stood in front of the disciples was very different from them. When Christ mixed His spit with mud (Mk. 8:22-26) to heal the blind, His very act of spitting was more devotional than the biggest sacrifice made by the greatest saint on His earth. Often, we find TV actors being lauded for playing the part of Jesus on TV and how Christ-like they were in their performance. But there is no performance that can possibly capture what the Son of Man was like. He was distinct from the disciples around Him. At every moment in His life, His greatest concern was the glory of God. Not only was this Jesus visibly distinct, but also, He made claims that carried divine authority. He didn’t claim to be a door, a vine, a bread, or a beam of light, rather He claimed to be the door, the vine, the bread, and the light. Everything from His demeanour to actions to His words indicated the authority He carried.

Often when we talk about the “I AM” sayings of Christ, we talk about the 7 I am sayings which are I am the Bread of Life (Jn. 6:35), I am the Light of the World (Jn. 8:12), I am the Door (Jn. 10:9), I am the Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11,14), I am the Resurrection and the Life (Jn. 11:25), I am the Way and the Truth and the Life (Jn. 14:6) and I am the Vine (Jn. 15:1,5). But apart from that, in chapter 18 of John’s Gospel, there’s an “I AM” saying that’s slightly different from the rest. Here He doesn’t compare Himself to anything, nor does He have a parable to offer, rather He merely introduces Himself to the ones who had come to arrest Him. Yet the reaction we get from the soldiers who had come to carry out the arrest is strange. What we have is the Son of Man opening the floodgates of His majesty and glory and authority ever so slightly that the soldiers have to fall back in awe and dread. When a man is arrested, it is a clear display of authority of the one’s arresting over the one who is arrested. But when Christ was arrested, He made it very evident as to who was in control and whose plan was actually being carried out. Christ makes it abundantly clear that He is like no other man that the Romans had ever arrested and put behind bars. About this passage, John Gill says “but to give proof of his deity, and a specimen of his power at the great day; and to let them know, that if he had not thought fit to have surrendered himself voluntarily to them, though he was an unarmed person, they, with all their men and arms, could never have laid hold on him”.

God is in complete control of our redemption and salvation and at no point was He helpless beyond His control.

This display of Christ’s authority and control over His destiny is very important for us to understand. Christ says I am He, thus invoking His covenant name and thereby displaying His deity and matchless authority. Christ’s humble estate was truly His choosing (Phil. 2:8-10). He was under no coercion to die on our behalf, nor was He forced into it. Our great saviour volunteered for this, and the love He displayed was no “reckless love”. Jesus knew the cost and He emptied Himself for us. This image of Christ displaying His authority momentarily to the soldiers is important for us to keep in mind as hours later we find this same Jesus being tortured and mocked. There’s a famous quote from the great Puritan Thomas Watson that says, “Jesus Christ went more willingly to the cross than we do to the throne of grace.” We Christians who have the great privilege to commune with God are often lazy to go to God and find comfort in worldly things. But Christ on the contrary marched to the cross willingly for us.

A good comparison that can be made to help us better understand the humility and humiliation of Christ is between God’s throne room in Isaiah 6 and the crucifixion of Christ. Christ in His throne room is at the centre with Seraphim flying around His throne. Christ’s robe gloriously fills the temple, and the heavenly creatures cover their face and feet to shield them from the glory of Christ. Now as opposed to this, Christ is crucified on a cross between two sinners. The one whose robe filled the temple lay naked and bruised. While the seraphim had to cover their face and feet with hands and legs crossed, on the cross Christ was surrounded by thieves who had their hands stretched wide apart without being affected by His glory.

Beloved, the one who advocates for us in heaven today (1 Jn. 2:1) is the one who willingly humbled Himself for our redemption. Our life is completely secure in this saviour’s hands who shed His blood and suffered the father’s wrath for us. God is in complete control of our redemption and salvation and at no point was He helpless beyond His control. This gives us hope and strength in the fact that our lives are truly in His control and that the one who doesn’t sleep or slumber guards our feet from slipping (Ps. 121:3-4). May we find our hope and strength in Jesus.