Americans like to hear a good arrest story. From the endless stream of cop shows (CSI, Law and Order, etc) , to the endless video loops shown of O. J. Simpson’s white bronco chase, to Michael Jackson’s infamous waving at fans with his hands cuffed behind his back, to the semi-reality based television show, COPS (Bad boys, Bad boys, what you gonna do they come for you. ♫ ) We really can’t seem to get enough of this stuff as a culture.
How many times have we seen the old familiar scene of someone being led in handcuffs to the courthouse, with a coat over their head to protect their identity? Arresting someone in this country is no quiet affair. It is very public.
But when we come to the most famous arrest in history we discover it was not a media circus. It was hush-hush. Even His trials themselves would be kept under wraps… held at night (which was against their laws) to keep the adoring eyes of the crowd from witnessing any of them.
Now when Jesus was arrested, Miranda rights were not in place, but yet He could have remained silent. Later, during some of His trials, He would do exactly that… but not on this night. He made a few statements that have some incredible significance for us, as we understand more about what Jesus did for us. We look at the first in this post:
“Whom do you seek?”
The irony was that Jesus was a wanted… yet unwanted man. Here is what I mean. He was a wanted man for sure. The Jewish leaders of the day wanted Him. His picture was hanging up in the local post office. His crime: disturbing the peace. They didn’t like the authority He seemed to wield. The miracles astonished and pleased the people… the very people these leaders wanted to control. What else could they do? They had to get rid of this Jesus.
Likewise, the Romans wanted Him. Convinced by the Jewish leaders that Jesus might cause a Jewish revolt they dispatch a cohort (This could mean a thousand soldiers, though it doesn’t mean the entire cohort was sent) to assist the temple guards in the arrest of Jesus. It is feared that Christ and his disciples might fight back. And judging from the miracles Jesus could perform, it might require great force to take this young radical away.
Jew and Gentile both want Christ. To arrest Him.
James Montgomery Boice: “It is a ludicrous situation, men with weapons coming forward to arrest the Son of God, and John does not allow us to miss the irony. We remember, for example, that it is John who has stressed more than any other Gospel writer that Jesus is the light of the world. He has done that in the opening chapter, where the word ‘light’ in reference to Jesus occurs 6 times in just nine verses. Later he twice quotes Christ’s own claim to be ‘the light of the world.’ Now those of the darkness come in the darkness with ‘lanterns and torches’ to seek him out.”
They creep forward in the darkness to seize the light of the world.
Yes, Jesus truly was a wanted man this night.
But did they really want Him?
“Who is it you want?” Jesus asked, as he emerged from the garden of Gethsemane. For at least a moment, the gravity of what they are doing succumbs them. They all fall to the ground. Once again Jesus offers them the choice. Do you want me or not? Whom do you seek? I am He. “I am”… the perpetual theme running through the Gospel of John. I am the bread of life. I am the door. I am the resurrection and the life. 7 descriptions of Himself throughout John lead up to this declaration: Whom do you seek? — the answer? – I am. (He is not in the original Greek.)
I am what you are seeking! He tells it to the world, represented by the Jews and Gentiles here.
Bruce Milne writes: “The world is groping after its true leader: he offers himself, and the world, after yielding for a moment to the impact of his divinity, arrests him and crucifies him.”
But Jesus was speaking to more than just these arresting officers… He was speaking down through the ages to seekers, like you and I. “Who are you seeking?” He asks us. He answers before we can even speak.