It was Passover, so the moon was full. The air would have been fragrant with the freshness of Spring, but the air near the brook Kidron must smell bloody, because on that day, all the Passover lambs were killed in the Temple and the blood was poured on the altar. From the altar there was a channel down to the brook Kidron and the blood of the Passover lambs drained away. When our Lord and His disciples finished the Last Supper meal and after He had prayed for all believers, He "left with His disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley." They went out of the city gate on the east side, went down the steep valley and crossed the channel of the brook Kidron which was still red with the blood of the sacrificial lambs. Would the thought of Himself being the true Passover Lamb be vivid on Jesus' mind?
Having crossed the Kidron Valley, they went up the Mount of Olives. On its slopes lay "an olive grove" which was called the little garden of Gethsemane. Only the wealthy people had their private garden on the Mount of Olives. So it must be some wealthy friend of Jesus who gave Him and His disciples the right to use the garden. "Jesus had often met there with His disciples" for peace and quiet time. Of course, Judas who already betrayed Jesus "knew the place" well. He had often rested there, listening with the other disciples to the Master's words. He knew this little garden would be the convenient spot to arrange the arrest of Jesus. "So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons." The authorities had trouble to arrest Jesus when He taught in public, for fear of the people who believed in Him. They were thrilled when Judas came to them to offer his infamous service of leading them to arrest Jesus. There is something astonishing about the force which came out to arrest Jesus. There was a company of Roman soldiers, together with the Jewish police force which were the "officials from the chief priests and Pharisees". A "detachment" could be made up of 200 men. What an expedition to send out almost an army to arrest an unarmed Galilean carpenter! But what a compliment to the power of Jesus! The Gospel according to John made it clear that both Jews and Gentiles were guilty of the death of Jesus who was about to die for the life of the world, the Jews and the Gentiles. "They were carrying torches, lanterns" to search for "the Light of the World". "They were carrying...weapons" to against the "Prince of Peace".
The other Gospels record how Judas kissed Jesus to betray Him. John does not mention Judas' kiss. John makes it clear that Judas is not the revealer but the betrayer, and rather that Jesus will identify Himself. It is not Judas' infamy that brings the success of Jesus' arrest. Rather, it is the Father's will. John also omitted Jesus' agonizing struggle in prayer and the disciples' sleepiness in Gethsemane, recorded in the other Gospel accounts. John kept the spotlight fully on Jesus who was fully prepared for "His hour" to win His personal victory on the cross in His Father's will. He would win without any help from man. Salvation itself involves no man's work. It is God's own work.
When Jesus was fully prepared for the work of salvation, His disciples seemed deeply sleepy and did not notice the torches flickering through the olive trees and the feet tramping on the ground as the soldiers and officials reached the garden. Unlike His disciples, Jesus was fully aware of the soldiers' approach and took the initiative. "Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’" The soldiers and officials must have thought that they would have to search among the trees and in the hillside nooks to find Jesus with the help of full moon's bright light, plus the "torches, lanterns" brought by them. Far from hiding, Jesus stepped out and asked them the same question that He asked His first two disciples when the two followed Him for the first time. This question demanded an answer. The soldiers and officials replied, "Jesus of Nazareth". They referred to Jesus with His most humble and human name among all His names.
Jesus stood alone, without weapon, as a man from an insignificant and small town in Galilee who is also God. He responded, "I am he". He used the most exalted and divine name "I am" to identify Himself. Jesus' self-identification produced dramatic effects. The soldiers and officials "drew back and fell to the ground. Judas the traitor (who) was standing there with them" must have fallen back as well. People falling to ground in the presence of God are mentioned elsewhere in the Bible. Here the ones falling are Hi