They All Fell Down, John 18:1-11

“When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples.” John 18:1-2.

This garden is identified in Matthew and Mark as Gethsemane.

“Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’” Mark 14:32.

While it is not surprising, it is interesting to see that the curse of man’s sin problem began in a garden, the Garden of Eden; it was about to be ended by the Man Christ Jesus, taken from a garden, Gethsemane.

Gethsemane is said to mean “wine press”, “oil press”, or “olive press”, the latter two which are essentially the same are it.

Now olive oil is used to represent the Holy Spirit, who was promised to believers by Jesus in John 7:37-39 and other places.

It was Jesus who was about to be thrown into the press of the judgment of God when nailed to the cross.

“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39.

It is not mentioned here as it is in other gospels, but Jesus prayed three times before His arrest.

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.’ He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, ‘What, could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.’ And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise let us be going. See, he who betrays Me is at hand.’” Matthew 26:36-46.

Luke states that when the Lord came to Gethsemane with His disciples:

“When He came to the place, He said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, ‘Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.’ And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” Luke 22:40-48.

I have added the last two verses here in Luke for context and to highlight the gall of Judas to betray a friend with a kiss. How much less an act of villainy to just point to the Lord and say, “There He is that is the Man.”

Some have said that the greatest battle of the cross was won in the garden through Jesus’ prayers.

“Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.” John 18:3.

The New American Standard Bible renders the phrase, “a detachment of troops”; a Roman cohort, which consists of from 300 to 600 soldiers. All of these trained Roman soldiers plus officers from the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest one peaceful Man who had done no harm His entire life.

In all fairness to this rabble, they may have feared a much larger crowd of Christ’s followers than eleven frightened disciples, though it is doubtful that this is the reason.

“Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ they answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Then – when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ – they drew back and fell to the ground.” John 18:4-6.

There are three little phrases in these verses which are easily overlooked; the first being, “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him…” Here is the omniscience of God the Son, Christ knew all things, every detail of what was to come and His attitude before these men shows that the expositors are probably correct in saying that the crucifixion was settled in His mind after His prayer in Gethsemane.

“O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:42b.

So what did the Lord know was about to come upon Him?

“The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.” Isaiah 50:5-6.

“Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands…” Matthew 26:67.

“And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head.” Matthew 27:28-30.

“Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage [marginal, His appearance] was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men…” Isaiah 52:14.

“But He was wounded [footnote, wounded – pierced] for our transgressions, He was bruised [marginal, crushed] for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes [marginal, blows that cut in] we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5.

“Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.” Matthew 27:26.

Scourging or flogging with a whip resembling a Cato’ nine tails with bits of metal and bone attached to the tips. Such an instrument would leave deep furrow like wounds on the back, and while it is not said how many lashes, it is likely that the one wielding the whip would do so until he was tired.

The torn back, ripped out beard and blood flow from the crown of thorns would indeed make Him “marred more than any man.” In fact, I wonder if an ordinary man could have lived through such abuse.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.

Christ never sinned therefore He was not under this curse. He laid down His life and the sin question was settled once and for all.

“And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, “into Your hands I commend My spirit.”’ And having said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:46.

The last words Jesus spoke on the cross were a quote from Psalm 31:5.

“Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” Psalm 31:5

“For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down.” Psalm 75:8.

Jesus drained that cup to the bottom at the cross, and ironically, it is not necessary for the wicked to drink of it if they accept Christ’s payment for their sin. But they refuse, and that is truly what makes them wicked.

Before continuing it may help to know that [words in brackets] are not in the verses quoted, but were added for clarification. While words that are in (parenthesis) in a verse are actually part of Scripture. The word [marginal, in brackets] indicates that the words added are taken from the marginal notes in the Bible as alternate words (these can vary in different translations).

The [footnote] in Isaiah 53:5 quoted earlier, is actually a footnote taken from The Ryrie Study Bible New King James Version, Charles C. Ryrie; Moody Press, Chicago.

“Whom are you seeking? They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’” This second phrase appears to be intended as an insult; Nazareth being a town of poor reputation.

The third phrase is easy to read over without realizing the impact of the statement, since it is difficult for the mind to conceive of it. “…when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ – they drew back and fell to the ground.”

Now this was not a voluntary act; they were knocked flat by the words “I am He”, Jesus showed His power and majesty for perhaps one last chance for some of these to change their minds.

The main reason for this display of power is a message for us all though, Jesus Christ was not a victim, He gave Himself willingly for our sakes.

It would have been impossible for any man, angel, or natural catastrophe to harm Jesus without His allowing it to happen.

“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17-18.

“Then He asked them again, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ and they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way.’ That the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, ‘Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.’” John 18:7-9.

As this pack of pseudo-religious rabble along with 300 plus hardened Roman soldiers got up off their rear ends and brushed themselves off, Jesus asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” One can only wonder if there was just a little less high-tone snottiness in their voices as they repeated, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

“I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way…” Say, just who is arresting who? God is so amazing, even when He appears to be out of control, He is in control.

This applies to our own lives too. Often we fret over things that we should be taking to the Lord in prayer. If Jesus can dictate to His jailers the terms of His arrest, He can certainly rescue us out of all our troubles.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah.” Psalm 46:1-3.

The last quote in John 18:9, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.” is taken from the Lord’s High Priestly prayer.

“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” John 17:12.

“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?’” John 18:10-11.

Of the four, this is the only gospel that identifies Peter as the attacker and Luke 22:51 is the only one that records Jesus’ healing of Malchus.

“But Jesus answered and said, ‘Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.” Luke 22:51.

If we were forensic scientists it might be interesting to consider whether Peter was left handed or not; since if Malchus was facing him a left handed sword might take the right ear off.

However, we do not know which way either was facing so the correct answer eludes us.

It can be stated with a little more certainty that Peter was a fisherman, not a swordsman, meaning he was unskilled and in all likelihood was aiming for the middle of the servant’s skull.

To Malchus’ great fortune, it was the Messiah they were arresting and not the charlatan that they claimed Him to be.

Many (if not all Christians) are guilty at one time or another of acting in the flesh as Peter did, and of cutting off the ear of their listeners with some ill-advised comment or action.

When this happens it is nice to know that Jesus is there to minister to the wounded individual.

The main problem is that many Christians are unskilled in the use of their sword, the word of God, see Ephesians 6:13-18. A lot of problems would cease if Christians would just study the Scriptures. It says this about Bible study in the book of Hebrews:

“…of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God [the Scriptures]; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:11-14.

I wonder what Malchus thought about all of this?

They All Fell Down, John 18:1-11 taken from posted on 5-29-13, updated on 3-27-18.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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