I was reading one of my favorite passages today in the Gospel of John. In comes from chapter 18, verses 4-9. It is where Jesus is arrested. Verse 4 says, “Jesus, knowing everything that was about to happen to Him, went out and said to them, ‘who is it you are looking for?'” I love that it says He knew everything that was going to happen. The next 12 hours were going to be horrific, and He knew it. Yet He still stepped forward and initiated the conversation with the soldiers. This is not how we would respond. After some humorous reactions from the soldiers (they bowed before the One they were there to arrest), Jesus says in verse 8, “I told you that I am He. So if you’re looking for me, let these men go!” The Romans soldiers could have easily, and probably would have, arrested the followers of Jesus. But the didn’t, because Jesus told them not to!
Don’t you just love that! Jesus went forward and allowed Himself to be arrested so that the disciples could be let go. The word used there is the same word that is translated “forgive” in other places. It is a picture of His substitutionary death on our behalf. It is the atonement in action. Jesus is the one who will be arrested, tried, crucified, and die. We are the ones who are let go, released, not punished, and forgiven. He gets death so that we can get life. Wow. This passage brings me to tears. He suffered so I could be set free.