Reflections: June 19, 2020
Friday of the First Week after Trinity
By Alexander Lange
When Jesus said to them, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:6)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. When Judas, the band of soldiers, and officials sent by the priests and the Pharisees said that they were looking for Jesus, Jesus replied, "I am he." Perhaps this was merely an admission that He is Jesus, or perhaps Jesus is saying the divine name – I AM (Exodus 3:14).
Either way, what happens next is amusing. Immediately, the band of soldiers and the Jewish officials fell backwards, right to the ground. Jesus knocked over His enemies with a mere word. They did stand back up, probably shaking a bit. They did arrest Jesus. However, John recorded this amusing detail, so that you might know that Jesus went with these men willingly.
Jesus is the true God, the Almighty. Nobody can force Jesus to do anything against His will. Indeed, He really could have come off the Cross, if He wanted to.
That's the point. He wanted to go with these men. He chose to die on the Cross. Even though Jesus felt real human fear, He didn't wield His great power to protect Himself. His death was a genuine sacrifice.
Your God died for you. He died in your place. He died, so that you don't have to die. Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends" (John 15:13-14).
As Paul wrote, "One will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:7-8). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth, The guilt of sinners bearing And, laden with the sins of earth, None else the burden sharing; Goes patient on, grows weak and faint, To slaughter led without complaint, That spotless life to offer, He bears the stripes, the wounds, the lies, The mockery, and yet replies, "All this I gladly suffer." ("A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth" LSB 438, st. 1)
– Rev. Alexander Lange is pastor of Holy Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church in Albany, Oregon.
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