5/1 John 18:5-6

5 They answered him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am he." Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.

To understand what took place in these words of Jesus, we must understand how the words sounded in the language they were speaking and in the culture of the time. The translation is correct, but words and names have deeper meanings. Jesus had just asked who the mob was seeking. They answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." The name "Jesus" means the salvation of God! "Nazareth" means "the branch" because the people of that town were descendants of King David, Jesse's son, and expected the Messiah to be born from their family line as the prophecies foretold. The prophet called the coming one "The Branch of Jesse" (Isaiah 11:1). Now hear the answer again as the people would have: "God's salvation of the Branch" (Jeremiah 23:5)! Surely they understood the implications of what they had just said. Jesus' simple question had them confessing the truth.

In the language in which Luke wrote this Gospel, Jesus responded, "I AM!" The English translators added "he" to make the reading understandable. However, in doing so, they cause us to miss the power of the declaration. When Moses met God at the burning bush, God told Moses to tell the people of Israel that His name is "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14).

The crowd just said they were seeking the salvation of God of the Branch of David, and Jesus declared, "I AM!" No wonder they fell backward. Jesus wasn't being captured; He was allowing Himself to be taken to die for the sins of the world. The long prophesied branch of David had come to be the ransom payment for our sins. God, in the flesh, was paying our sin debt so that we might come to Him and have life.

Consider: Whom do you seek?