Preaching Christ 20

Isaiah 6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples. 2 Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. 3 Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

John 18:1-6 is a rather uninteresting narrative on the surface and even after one reads it for a bit. It seems to be something to give some background to the rest of the story. However, when one looks at this from the biblical concept that main reason Jesus took human flesh and walked on this planet at the very tabernacle of God, this is a revealing text and one that is very instructive for preaching. The text starts off with Jesus going to a garden with His disciples. That is not a very exciting start. But now look at how the drama unfolds. Judas, who John has already revealed (by the words of Jesus) as the traitor, knew that place and took some people with him to that garden.

But look at how the story unfolds in a dramatic way if we have eyes to see. Look at all these armed men that Judas led to arrest Jesus! A cohort was 480 men. If that is not enough to get the dramatic juices flowing, they were armed and were accompanied by officers of the Jews. Hundreds of armed men were coming to arrest Jesus. The text then moves to tell us that Jesus knew all that was coming upon Him and so He went forth and asked them whom it was that they sought. But again, picture the drama in this story. Hundreds of armed men were sent to arrest one man. That one “man” knew what was going to happen and so He went out to them. If we think of this story but for a moment, how the Divine work in Christ must have strengthened Him for this moment. Jesus walked out to face hundreds of armed men who came to arrest Him.

We have to ask the question as to who was in control at that moment. Was Jesus in control or could it have been the 500 to 600 armed men in control? What we have to say with complete confidence is that God was sovereign over each and every moment of that exchange. The text tells us that Judas was also standing there. What happened next should have rocked the entire universe. Jesus asked who they were looking for and they said “Jesus the Nazarene.” When Jesus responded with “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Imagine what just happened! Jesus speaks two words in Greek and all these armed men and Judas drew back from Him (the one they came to arrest) and fell to the ground.

Why did all these armed men draw back from Jesus and fall to the ground? It was because the glory of God came shining through Him and for a brief moment they saw something of His glory. They had but a brief moment of what Isaiah went through for a longer time in Isaiah 6. Isaiah wailed about his being undone and what a sinner he was, the several hundred armed men “recoiled” from being in the presence of the Holy One and they fell to the ground because their knees would no longer hold them up. It is no wonder that Scripture speaks of every knee bowing before God on judgment day. It only takes a brief sight of His glory for the strength and courage of men to leave.

This is the same Jesus now as He was then, but perhaps He has even more glory now in one sense. It is the Jesus of glory that must be preached and it is the Jesus of glory that people must hear of sermon after sermon. When that glory is beheld, a church will not be the same. When Christ is preached and Christ is truly sought, people are changed by the very seeking. When Christ comes, people will not be unmoved and untouched. In the history of revivals this is what has happened. People came to know that they were in the presence of the living God and they wept and they had to fall or be seated. In the presence of His glory armed men fall. In the presence of His glory the enmity men have toward Christ comes to the fore and men see that they cannot win against such a holy God. In the presence of His glory men begin to understand their great need of grace. Christ must be preached!

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