‘As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out.
And it was night.’ John 13:30
It was the cool of the day in that first Garden long ago, when God had come looking for the first Human Beings¹.
But now it is the chill of night, in this second garden. And Human Beings have come looking for God.
To Kill Him.
“So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.” John 18:3
“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’” John 18:4-9
Who is it you want? He asked knowing the answer already. But did they?
Who is it you want? He asked it of them, and asks it of us. Who is it we really want? Who are we truly looking for? What is it we want? Because even now, underneath all our whirl, we are all still searching, and He is still moving towards us asking, “Who is it you want?” Who are you searching for in the dark? Who is it you want as King in your heart? Who is it you want as Lord in your life?
This is the question we are here on earth to answer, mirroring the first question of God in the Scriptures, “Where are you?”. Because What we want, who we really want reveals where we truly are.
It was God who’d called ‘Where are you?’ as He was searching for humanity in the dark. They had lost their true King, thrown Him down from the throne of their hearts- and being the true King, despite their treachery, He had come looking for His lost sheep…“Where are you?”³. He was looking for His children. And He found cowering betrayal, dodging and flinching.
Millennia later it was human beings, who had asked the first recorded question in New Testament Scripture, as they came searching for a King; the true King of Heaven and earth- ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?’3.
They were looking for a King. And they found a baby. Defenceless.
And this night now in this second garden. Humans come looking for a rogue teacher from Nazareth. But they find the King the wise men sought.
This King coming out to meet them asking, ‘Who is it you want?’
And being the true King, He doesn’t hide, avoid or run away from this moment. This moment that is not His will, but God’s. This moment that He has been walking towards since before all time began.
The Light of the world who overcomes all darkness4 walks out into the dark moving forward to meet them.
Like the manger-baby reaching out. Defenceless.
He strides out to meet them. Like David met Goliath6. Armour-less.
Striding towards the battle.
“Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’
‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied.
‘I am he,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)
When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again he asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’
‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they said.
Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.’’” John 18:4-9
“I am He”. Such simple inconspicuous words brimming with such explosive meaning. This author, John, who wrote this moment down, he has a way with words, a habit of folding hidden layers into depths, double meanings into texts. Three times in this short passage John writes Jesus’ response-“I am He”, as though he was intent on us seeing, earnest that we might understand, there is more to be seen, more to be understood, depths lingering behind letters.