The hardest thing that was ever done, the greatest pain that was ever known and the biggest battle that was ever won happened in a garden at night.
It was won alone and it was won by Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
Although this is usually the kind of topic shared at Easter time, it is a timely message for any period of time. In so doing, I want to draw your attention to something very unusual. It is about what happened when Jesus was arrested. Let us start with John chapter seventeen. This, as I have often said, is The “Lord’s Prayer”, not the “Our Father” as nice as it sounds, because that is His reply to the disciple’s request to teach them how to pray. It is the “pattern” or principle of praying. In John 17, Jesus prayed for you and for me as well as those disciples.
He asked that we be protected by the power of the Father’s name.
If you are ever concerned about your safety and security, remember that He prayed for you and remember that He has assigned at least one angel to watch over you, protect you and keep you in all your (Godly) ways. See Psalm 91.
I have given your word to them; and they are hated by the world, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. My prayer is not that you will take them out of the world, but that you will keep them from the Evil One. John 17:14-15
We know that He overcame the devil and destroyed his works because of His resurrection. John later said that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. See 1 John 3:8. The remainder of John 17 is powerful, possibly more powerful that we realise.
They are not of the world (worldly, belonging to the world), [just] as I am not of the world.
I often say that we do not belong to, nor are we controlled by the world system. We are supposed to live and function and receive all we need in life by and through the system of God. Many professing believers do not realize this and live below the standards God desires for them. When the Lord said that He had goirified the Father on the earth and later stated that He had overcome the world, He used different terminologies. The reference to the earth is gē that talks about the planet and the people on it. The word for world is Kosomos and the primary meanings refer to adornment and decoration. It is in this region that the devil gained control and rules as the god (lower case g) of this world according to 2 Corinthians 4:4.
After that Last Supper and saying those things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley and entered the grove of olive trees we know as Gethsemane, or, the crushing place. This is where the real battle was waged and Jesus won. I recommend that you visit the page The Crushing Place to see more. Whilst there, Judas came with a motley bunch of men who arrested Him.
After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees.
This band of men, as the KJV puts it, was a Roman cohort, that was formally a tenth part of a Legion. It is likely therefore that a contingent of approximately 600 fully armed soldiers, accompanied by officers came to the garden that night. Another group of men, who accompanied them were also armed. We use the term Temple Guards. Even if only a portion of a Cohort such as a platoon or squad was despatched, there would have been a very sizeable fighting force in the garden.
This is the setting. Jesus knew that they had arrived and was waiting for them!
Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
It is this statement that we need to investigate.
When Jesus said to them, I am He, they went backwards (drew back, lurched backward) and fell to the ground. John 18:6
We often see people “slain in the spirit” in churches. I’ve experienced it myself, having “gone down under the power” and sometimes as I touch people when praying for them, down they go.
I do not recommend getting involved in such things at all, but things can happen and if so, we need to be prepared.
Pastors in our modern society must be wise and careful in permitting such things, if for no other reason, there might be the risk of being sued if someone is injured in a Church. If God is in it, there are no problems, but if the people are “pretending’ and hurt themselves as I’ve seen happen, they can react in an ungodly manner.
I will share one piece of advice before continuing. Sometimes “going down” is not desirable when you are praying for someone as in a prayer line in Church. When you lay hands on someone, you create a point of contact and I liken it to an electrical device being plugged into the power outlet. The “current” can flow to produce the desired result, but if the person receiving prayer falls, the “connection” is severed and the “full charge” is not received. Sometimes it is best to maintain the contact for as long as possible. There have been times when I felt something like an electric charge flowing through me that others can feel and when that happens, I have learned to maintain physical contact to let the thing keep “flowing” until it stops. When it stops...I stop. I believe that this is the kind of thing that happened when the woman with the issue of blood touched Jesus. He “felt it”!
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let us look at what happened in the garden. Imagine 600 men being knocked off their feet flat on their backs simultaneously. This was an explosive discharge of power, if ever there was one. What was it? Where did it come from? How was it released?
Jesus had asked them what they wanted, or who they were looking for. When they replied that they were looking for Jesus. Most of them would most likely not have known Him. Judas did, but he was somewhere (possibly in front) of this bunch of men, late at night, with the only illumination by flickering torches, in what could have been a “spooky” place.
He replied, “I Am”.
The original language does not have the word “he” at all. In the King James version, it is in italics, that indicates it was added by the translators. Most times you see a word like that, it is not in the original and in many places, I have crossed that word out. It can change everything. It was when He said, “I Am” that this explosion of power happened.
The words used are ego eimi.
It was not the first time Jesus used this phrase to identify Himself.
He also used it in John 8:58 and John 13:19. When people heard those words ego eimi, they immediately recognised them as the very words God used to identify Himself when He spoke to Moses on Mount Horeb in Exodus 3:14.
Let’s look at John 8:58, where Jesus said-
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I Am.
It does not even make good grammatical sense, but it’s meaning was so powerful, the Pharisees know what it meant and they couldn’t handle that! Jesus used these same words in John13:19, where, according to the Greek, it should read-
...Ye may believe that I Am!
The power vested in those words affirmed that I He is the Great “I Am” of the Old Testament. I have a web page called I Am...the convent names of God. You can see more on this amazing subject here.
When those soldiers wanted to know, “Who are you?” they probably expected him to answer, “Jesus of Nazareth”, but He replied “I Am!” and they went backward and fell to the ground. The words went backward come from the Greek word aperchomai.
Sometimes the supernatural of God hits us, even if it does not fall into line with our denominational belief structures and if we are totally honest with ourselves, this is how it did happen and how effective it was. I know that things can be taken to excess, but we simply cannot throw the baby out with the bath water. When God moved as He did in the days of the early Church, people came face to face with the supernatural of God. Most times the response is positive.
I cry for the day when men and women anywhere, will have the opportunity to have a “divine encounter” and know without any shadow of doubt that they have met God. We have so many different denominational groups, many with their own different sub-groups all peddling their own versions of “Christianity” but do good men and women, boys and girls know that they have had a moment in time when they encountered God? I hope so. He has not changed. His word has not altered. We want people to “join us”, to become part of our organisation or start coming to “our church” and whilst this is good and commendable, are they really coming face to face with a life changing relationship with the almighty? That’s the criteria.
Those men fell backward, as if some force had forcibly hit them and pushed them backward. The word fell is the Greek word pipto, which means to fall. It was used often to depict a person who fell so hard, it appeared that he fell dead or fell like a corpse.
The verse adds they went backward and fell to the ground. The words to the ground are taken from the Greek word chamai, which depicts these soldiers falling abruptly and hitting the ground hard. Some force unexpectedly, suddenly, and forcefully knocked these troops and temple police flat!
If you stop and think about it, why would anyone send such a large contingent of armed and fully trained troops out to arrest twelve men (one man with eleven followers, because Judas was with the soldiers). Did they fear something? Did they have a sub-conscious feeling of some kind that they might be dealing with forces beyond their understanding? Think of it. Up to 600 Roman soldiers and a large number of trained temple guards had all come laden with weapons like spears, swords and clubs to help them capture one man.
When they said that they were searching for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus answered them with the words, “I Am” — thus identifying Himself as the “I AM” of the Old Testament. When Jesus spoke those words, a great blast of God’s power was unleashed — so strong that it literally thrust the troops and police backward, causing them to stagger, wobble, and stumble as they hit the ground hard.
The mere words of Jesus were enough to overwhelm and overpower them! Why did He not simply walk away? He had proved that no force of any kind could touch Him. No demonic horde from the pit of hell could even look at Him without some reaction, but, after speaking two words, “I Am”, He waited patiently until they recovered to arrest Him.
He knew that this was part of the Father’s plan. He knew this when He was 12 years old!
He knew this when He prayed in the garden to see if there was some other way to achieve the Father’s objectives and they all embraced the redemption of mankind.
Please understand that no one took Him or could take Him. They tried before, but failed because it was not the right time. It was Jesus’ voluntary choice to go with the soldiers and He knew beforehand what would happen.
The Jesus we serve is powerful! There is no force that can resist His power. No sickness, financial turmoil, relational problems, political force, terrorism, natural disaster, famine, demons—absolutely nothing has enough power to resist the supernatural power of Jesus Christ!
When the Great “I AM” opens His mouth and speaks, every power that attempts to defy Him or His Word is pushed backward and shaken until it staggers, stumbles, and falls to the ground!
What is your need today? Why not present those needs to Jesus, the Great “I Am”? Let Him speak to your heart, directing you to His Word. Once you see the promise you need, get your mouth into agreement with His Word, and you, too, will see the power of God unleashed against the forces that try to defy you!
I previously touched on the matter of “being slain in the spirit”. When we first started to experience this in the Church, it was sometimes very controversial, but I have found it to be “normal”, depending on certain criteria as I mentioned before.
I remain neutral on it, with the attitude that if it happens, it happens and if not, then that doesn’t matter either. I don’t have to prove a thing. What is more important is...what are the people like afterwards? Is there any change in them? Are they healed, or has whatever that needed to be done actually done? Sometimes we call this “God’s operating table”. Whilst there, He can speak to them, heal them physically or emotionally or do what He wishes. His sovereignty is paramount.
The Hebrew word for glory is kābôd and it means great, rich, honourable, glorious, abundance, riches and heavy! The glory of God is “heavy”.
I’ve seen a cloud enter buildings and it is awesome. Again I state that we are best to simply let things happen without trying to “conjure up anything”. That’s plain dumb.
When the cohanim came out of the Holy Place (for all the cohanim who were present had consecrated themselves; they didn’t keep to their divisions; also the L’vi’im who were the singers, all of them—Asaf, Heman, Y’dutun and their sons and relatives—dressed in fine linen, with cymbals, lutes and lyres, stood on the east side of the altar; and with them 120 cohanim sounding trumpets), then, when the trumpeters and singers were playing in concord, to be heard harmoniously praising and thanking Adonai, and they lifted their voices together with the trumpets, cymbals and other musical instruments to praise Adonai: “for he is good, for his grace continues forever”—then, the house, the house of Adonai, was filled with a cloud; so that because of the cloud, the cohanim could not stand up to perform their service; for the glory of Adonai filled the house of God.
2 Chronicles 5:11-14