Jesus, therefore, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” (John 18:4).
Here’s what one of my college professors concluded about Jesus: “He was simply a pilgrim who had a horrible weekend in Jerusalem.” He went on to explain the only remnant of the Apostles’ Creed he could still confess was that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried.” Jesus, according to this version of Easter, was a passive victim of circumstances. Events spiraled out of his control, and he had no choice but to be bounced from one trial to the next until he was executed in grisly fashion.
The New Testament, however, portrays Jesus as fully in control of his circumstances. Indeed, as Judas and his posse approached him carrying torches, lanterns, and weapons, Jesus neither shirked away nor equivocated. Jesus didn’t wait to be identified. On the contrary, he stepped forward and questioned those who sought to question him. Why? Because Jesus already knew everything that was going to happen to him. Far from being a pawn who was duped by his enemies, Jesus is the Sovereign King who always knows exactly what he’s doing.
He knew he would be betrayed by one of his own. He knew he would be arrested and handed over to the Gentiles. He knew he would suffer in a uniquely Roman way—crucifixion. He knew he would die as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And he knew death wouldn’t have the last word, that he would be exalted to the right hand of God the Father.
But for the believer, here’s the most astounding thing he knew: Jesus knew all along he was doing everything for sinners like us. He knew exactly how prone we are to go our own way. He knew exactly how stubborn and prideful we are. He knew how often we would deny him and fail him. He knew he was dying in the place of rebellious and disobedient people. Yet he still stepped forward in the darkness of Gethsemane and said to those complicit in murdering him, “Whom do you seek?”
Thus we can see how magnifying Jesus’ knowledge simultaneously magnifies Jesus’ love for sinners. Suffering is miserable. Period. But there’s all the difference in the world between passively suffering in ignorance and willingly suffering for people who hate you. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Such is the love Christ has for his bride, the Church. Jesus knew us. He knew what he needed to do to reconcile us to our holy and righteous Creator, and he left nothing undone. Hallelujah! What a Savior!