Now when he (Jesus) said to them, I am he, … they fell to the ground.
Who is Jesus in fact? It is not only today that this question occupies those who contemplate Him. Already when He was here on earth there were lively discussions on the subject. The miracles He performed could not be explained by normal natural processes. In addition His sayings impressed many.
The high priests wanted to have Jesus arrested by their officers and brought for questioning on one occasion. But they returned alone. When asked, “Why have you not brought him?” they answered, “No man ever spoke like this man.” (John 7:45.46). They were so impressed, they just could not arrest Him.
Further attempts to capture Jesus failed, too. Then things became serious. Late one evening a large number of soldiers together with the high priests and their officers went to the place where they supposed Him to be. They took torches and weapons. And He was actually there with His disciples. They must have heard Him, “Jesus of Nazareth” (John 18:5). Then those armed men experienced His divine power for themselves. When He answered; “I am he,” they fell to the ground.
Did they notice who He was? No, they struggled up, took their chains and bound Him. They could never have done so, if He had not voluntarily allowed it to happen. He submitted because the time had come for Him to die in order to save sinners from eternal perdition. His love towards the lost was the reason why He permitted them to take Him and nail Him to the cross.
Image: By James Doyle Penrose – http://www.bible-researcher.com/bede.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25191988