They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them.
As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
In the previous verse, Jesus stood calmly before the crowd and asked, “Whom seek ye?”
They responded, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Again, calmly but with authority, Jesus spoke. “I AM!”
Yes, the word He appears in some translations. It is not in the original Greek.
Jesus made several. I AM statements in the book of John: John 8:58 , John 6:48, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9, 10:11-14, 10:36, 11:25, 14:6). It was His identification as God, Jehovah, the Great I AM of the universe.
When He spoke those words, all those armed soldiers and Temple officers were tumbled off their feet and landed on the ground. At that moment, He let loose just a tiny little bit of His authority; His power was so great that all those men could not stand against it. What a dramatic moment that must have been!
What is so astonishing to me is that once they regained their feet and dusted themselves off, they went right ahead with their plans! I can’t help but wonder if perhaps a few of them who regained their senses decided it wasn’t such a great idea to try to arrest someone Whose spoken word could tumble them all to the ground!
Maybe they thought it had just been a small earth tremor, or a very strong wind. I don’t know what they thought. I’m not sure they did, either.
Judas was among them. Again, my imagination pictures him being blown off his feet and landing with a painful thump on his backside. Did he shake his head to clear the cobwebs out? Was he angry? Terrified? We don’t know. What we do know is that the evil he planned was not shaken, and once he gathered himself together he moved forward to commit the betrayal he had promised to the Pharisees.