No doubt, this seems a strange, if not absurd, title, or worse. The phrase, “went forward,” has a particular meaning to our fundamentalist Christian culture, and is something which the Lord would never have had to do. It’s an invention of men, anyway, and has no Scriptural basis. In fact, it’s probably done more harm than good. But He has no fault or failures to confess. He has no need to “get saved.” It seems almost sacrilegious, even blasphemous, to associate Him with that.
And yet Scripture clearly says that He went forward.
You might say, “Where does it say that?”
Or maybe you already know….
Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am [He].” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am [He], they drew back and fell to the ground . Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am [He]…, John 18:3-8 NKJV, emphasis added.
The word “He” is in brackets because it is added to the translation of the original text and is in italics. In that text, our Lord said, “Ego eimi,” twice. Literally, He said, “I, I am.” He could have simply said, “eimi,” – “I am,” and told them He was who they were looking for. But I think there’s more to it than that. It was the reason they “drew back and fell to the ground.” He told them who He was. He emphasized it: “I, I am.” These men were Jews and would have been well aware of the origin and significance of the phrase, “I am”.
They understood that the Lord Jesus was claiming to be that One who met with Moses on that mountain all those centuries ago.
That is why they fell to the ground. It wasn’t in worship of this One who stood before them. One day, they will confess that He is who He said He was, but it will be too late then. But here, on this dark night, away from the crowds, along with their evil intent…. And suddenly to be reminded of the contrast between this night and that other time. Can we say that it’s like when you enter a dark room at night and turn on the light? The reaction of your eyes and your body to the sudden change? Here, though, the contrast was infinite – and it knocked them over.
Had the Lord Jesus so desired, these men could have had no power over Him at all. All the armies of the earth could not have apprehended Him. But He went forward….
He knew what He was getting into. Likely, He had known it His whole life.
But He went forward….
We cannot even begin to understand any of that. Those three days beginning with the Crucifixion. We’ve prettied it all up with our “Good Friday” services and our “morning sunrise service” on “Easter Sunday,” while completely ignoring what He said about “three days and three nights,” but we have no clue what it meant to the Son of God. The Easter bunny gets more publicity during that weekend than the Lord Jesus.
But He went forward….
That was why He came to this benighted planet to begin with. He didn’t come here just to be a Teacher, to give us nice platitudes to live by. He didn’t come here to be “a good example,” because we could never follow it or live up to it, or any of the other reasons men assign to Him. He certainly didn’t come here to give us some means by which we could make ourselves righteous.
He came here for that weekend…
It’s true that His whole life was part of the sacrifice He made. We have no idea what it meant for Him, who made our legs, as a child to have to learn how to walk. He made our mouths, and as a child had to learn how to talk. To live in a world of absolute sinfulness and rebellion against God, but Himself to live a perfect, righteous, sinless life. He had no sin, but had to die, to pay for ours.
He took the place of those who believe on Him for salvation. He was their Substitute, their Sacrifice.
He came to give everything to those who have nothing to give to Him.
That is why He “went forward.”