In this passage, there are three things I see in Jesus.
1. His power and authority. Though surrounded by his enemies, he was in total command of the situation. Standing to face his enemies, he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And when they said, “Jesus of Nazareth,” he answered, “I am he.” (John 18:4-5)
At this, his enemies immediately fell to the ground at his use of the divine name (Exodus 3:13-14; John 8:58). What fear must have struck their hearts at that moment? Jesus then asked again, “Who are you looking for?” (John 18:6-7)
Completely shaken and with a lot less confidence in their voices, they answered, “Jesus of Nazareth,” and probably braced themselves to be knocked down again. But instead, Jesus simply said,
I told you that I am he…If you are looking for me, then let these men go. (John 18:8)
And though they went up to arrest him, I don’t think there was any doubt in their minds who was truly in control of the situation.
2. His mercy. Jesus’ disciples, however, perhaps thought to take advantage of their enemies’ uncertainty, and one of them cried out,
Lord, should we strike with our swords? (Luke 22:49)
Not waiting for an answer, Peter dashed up and chopped the ear off of one of the men that had come to arrest Jesus. (Either he had very good aim going for the ear and hitting it, or he was trying to slice the guy in two, and missed. I kind of think it was the latter).
But Jesus rebuked his followers, and told them,
Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)
There’s an old song that says Jesus could have called 10,000 angels to destroy the world and set himself free. Actually, the songwriter miscalculated. 12 legions would be more like 48,000 to 72,000 men. (Then again, maybe the songwriter just thought ten thousand sounded better.)
Whatever the case, the point is Jesus could have destroyed them all. But he showed mercy to them. He spared their lives, and in fact, ultimately gave up his life for theirs.
3. His grace. While mercy is not giving a person the punishment he deserves, grace is the giving of something the person does not deserve. And Malchus, the high priest’s servant, found Jesus’ grace as Jesus took Malchus’ severed ear and restored it. (Luke 22:51)
It was the last healing that Jesus ever performed here on earth. Physically, anyway. For it was through the cross that Jesus brought spiritual healing. And by his grace, our sins are forgiven, and we can find eternal life. And he gives it to anyone who will believe.
Power and authority. Mercy and grace. Are there any better descriptions of our Lord?