I’m not much for highly emotional expressions of religious zeal. Know what I mean? Where the pastor whips up the congregation into a frenzy of shouting, waving of hands, stomping of feet, making me uncomfortable. But here’s an incident in the Bible that makes me wonder.
From John 18. Soldiers keep the peace, preventing a riot, along with assistance from the Temple guards(‘…officers of the chief priests and Pharisees…’v. 3). They come to arrest Jesus. Judas betrays his Lord, bringing the authorities to take Him away. John tells us that “…Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said…’whom do you seek?'”(v. 5). They want someone named Jesus. He tells them, without hesitation, that ‘I am he’. Judas knows that by calling Himself ‘I am’, Jesus is asserting His deity. He says that He is the ‘I am’, Yahweh, of the Old Testament. That says it all. Not only that, but the soldiers couldn’t stand it. Literally! They draw back, staggering, falling to the ground. What’s going on here?
Jesus asserts who He is. They come for Jesus of Nazareth. ‘I’m your man’. That’s all? But is He? I don’t think so. They wouldn’t fall backwards, staggering to the ground. They would seize Him, then and there. More is going on here than meets the eye.
There were other instances like this in the Bible. Ezekiel 1:28–‘…This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell face down…’ Daniel 10: 9–‘Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.’ Acts 22: 6-7–‘About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground…’
These soldiers fell like human dominoes in the presence of Jesus, God in the flesh. They came to arrest a man, but found God in their midst. Can no longer stand on their own two feet. In their sin, they face only soil and dirt. Knowing how sinful we are, we must never kid ourselves thinking otherwise, for we too would fall on all fours before Holy God.
God can’t stand our sin. That’s why Jesus came and did what He did for us. We who are grounded in Him. Soiled and stained by sin…now forgiven and uplifted by His strong arms and hands. I know what it means to be brought low by my own sin. And to be raised up by Jesus. That’s being born-again. That is the experience of everyone who comes to know the Savior.
Yours also? Not tripped up by God. Raised up…with eternal life in Jesus!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for gathering us close to you as children to a loving parent. In Jesus’ name. Amen.