When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.  Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples.  So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons.  Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?”  They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.  When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
– John 18:1-6
In verse one, Jesus and his disciples enter the garden of Gethsemane. Judas, one of Jesus’s disciples, intends to betray Jesus. Judas understands that Jesus has power. He has seen Jesus walk on water, calm a storm, and raise the dead. So Judas, comes “prepared.” Judas has Roman soldiers, superior numbers, and the element of surprise (v. 3). And Judas is completely ridiculous. He is going to try to strong arm the Creator of the Universe. He actually thinks that Jesus can be forced to do something against His will.
A couple of years ago, a college student in New Jersey sued her parents for college tuition. They were willing to pay in-state tuition, but not out-of-state, so she sued them. If my children ever sue me, it will be a tragedy…for them, because I have no money. Of course, the greater tragedy will be that our relationship has degenerated into a business transaction.
Now we will not try to sue God, but we can be tempted to imagine it is His duty to extend grace to us. We can attempt to twist His arm, reminding Him that it’s His job to love us. The sad thing is we would settle for a business relationship with God, where we are obligated to be fairly good people and He owes us a happy life. Fortunately for us, this is not the offer on the table.
What does a righteous judge owe a convicted criminal? What does a holy king owe to a rebel who has tried to overthrow him? Nothing. We have no leverage, no entitlement with God. Yet Jesus chooses to give His life for us.
Judas has lanterns and torches, but Jesus is not hiding. He has soldiers and weapons, but Jesus is not resisting (v. 3). Jesus is not surprised. He knows what is going to happen and He confronts those who would torture and kill Him. Jesus asks who they are seeking and when they say “Jesus of Nazareth,” he says “I am he” and everyone falls on the ground before His majesty.
Jesus cannot be forced into anything. While we may be content with a God obligated to be good to us, who grudgingly blesses us, we find a free and sovereign God who chooses against all reason to love sinners who deserve nothing.
God does not love you reluctantly. It is not an obligation He has to keep. Jesus sees your sin, your doubt, your fickle love for Him, and He goes willingly to the cross that you might belong to Him. Jesus, the Son of God chooses death.