Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 30

Explore the Bible Sunday School Lesson for April 30

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By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida

John 18:1–11

I Am He

The enemies of Jesus did not take His life. John emphasizes in his passion narrative that Jesus gave His life. Indeed, Jesus giving His life for others is a key motif throughout the Gospel of John.

God gave His only Son (John 3:16). The Father gave Jesus the authority to give eternal life to everyone God has given to Him (John 17:2). Jesus’ life was not taken from Him in the act of crucifixion.

Jesus voluntarily gave up His spirit (John 19:30). As the self-giving one, Jesus oversees the final events of His life.

Show of Force (1–3)

After Jesus’ teaching in the upper room and His prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus and His disciples crossed the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. Jesus and the disciples frequented this location. Judas the betrayer knew of Jesus’ frequent visits to this location and brought a cohort of Jewish soldiers equipped with weapons. The soldiers were prepared for battle.

The Greek term translated “company of soldiers” in numerous English Bibles describes a detachment of around 600 soldiers. The numbers seem excessive. The Romans also sent 470 troops to escort Paul (Acts 23:23). In both cases, governmental authorities seemed to fear these two Jewish preachers. No doubt, the enemy Satan was behind the excessive show of force involved in the arrest of Jesus.

Positive Identification (4–9)

Jesus asked the question, “Who is it that you are seeking?” In one sense, this question applies to everyone. Who (or what) are you seeking in life? Your answer will determine whether you experience eternal life and the abundant life promised in the Gospel of John.

To their answer, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus responded, “I told you that I am He.” A literal translation of Jesus’ response to the soldiers and officials is “I Am!” Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus claimed to be the “I am” — a divine name of God derived from Exodus 3:14 — as the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the One from above, the Gate of the sheep, the Resurrection and Life, as well as the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Jesus appropriated the name of God (Yahweh) to Himself. The arresting soldiers fell to the ground at Jesus’ claim — an appropriate response to an encounter with God.

For the second time, Jesus asked the question, “Who is that you are seeking?” While Jesus voluntarily endured the cross, He commanded that the leaders release the disciples.

Jesus’ command to those who would arrest Him indicates that He is the one in charge. This fulfills Jesus’ prayer request in John 17:12. “I guarded them and not one of them is lost, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture may be fulfilled.”

Rebellion Snuffed (10–1)

In the Gospels, Peter is a man of action and words. While the Gospels describe Peter as someone who spoke before he thought, Peter exhibited great commitment to Jesus. He drew out his sword and cut off the right ear of the servant of the high priest.

Paradoxically, the servant’s name Malchus means “king.” Luke records that Jesus the King healed the ear of Malchus (Luke 22:51).

Jesus did not come to lead a rebellion. Jesus willingly obeyed the will of the Father no matter the cost. Do we?