Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from September 26-October 2 are written by David Son, who serves as the college pastor at Symphony Church in Boston. David, a graduate of UC Berkeley (B.S.) and Gordon-Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, who is a teacher.
Devotional Thought for Today
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. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.
In the movie “The Lion King,” the villainous Scar and his band of hyenas are only afraid of one thing: Mufasa. In fact, the mere mention of his name is enough to make them shudder. Even after Mufasa is dead, Scar bans the name Mufasa from being uttered. Why? Because there was power in that name. At the end of the film, Mufasa’s son, Simba, returns bearing the authority of his father, to defeat Scar and his minions. Of course, that’s just a children’s story, but the principle behind the story remains true.
In passage’s today, a small army of soldiers, armed with weapons, makes their way to arrest Jesus at the garden of Gethsemane. Upon being found by them, Jesus asks, “Whom do you seek?” Jesus, when told that they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth, declares His identity, saying, “I Am he” (ego eimi). At these mere words, the soldiers collapse and fall to the ground. Why? A closer look will reveal that these are not just any words, but Jesus is declaring Himself to be equal to the Great I AM (Ex. 3:13-4)—Yahweh. The Hebrew verb hayah, used in Exodus 3:13-14 to refer to Yahweh as “I Am” (meaning “to be”), is translated in Septuagint (the first Hebrew Bible in Greek) as ego eimi (“I Am”); ego eimi, then, is applied to Jesus in the New Testament. Although Jesus’ intention was to surrender Himself, the mere mention of the name of God—His name—caused the soldiers to fall to the ground.
As you go through this day, remember that because you are His son/daughter, you have power in the name of Jesus to overcome temptation, trials, and works of the enemy. Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.” May this be your prayer today!
Prayer: Lord, You are our source of strength and power to overcome the enemy. Help us to stand firm today. Teach us not to lean on our experience, abilities, or even our own righteousness, but instead to lean on You. We pray in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.
Lunch Break Study
Read: Acts 19:11-20: And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
Questions to Consider:
- What does this passage teach us about the source of power?
- Why did the sons of Sceva fail in their ministry?
- How did the believers react?
- The passage makes it clear that the source of power is God, not Paul, not the handkerchiefs, or aprons, not even invoking the name of Jesus. The first verse says, “God was doing extraordinary miracles….”
- The sons of Sceva used Jesus’ name as an incantation, thinking that uttering certain words in a certain order might invoke power. But the evil spirits know the real from fake. They knew there was no real power behind the sons of Sceva because the Spirit of Christ was not actually within them.
- The believers reacted by fearing the Lord, confessing, repenting, and burning their bridges to old sinful practices. And the name of Jesus was extolled. Although what happened to the sons of Sceva was tragic, the response of the believers is correct. Instead of speaking ill of the sons of Sceva, they recognized the seriousness of their own sinful ways and repented. Likewise, when we hear tragic news today of people in ministry falling/failing, we must have the humility to confess and repent for ourselves.
Today we talked about how powerful Jesus is, but also how He humbled himself and submitted Himself to being arrested. Spend some time this evening asking God for either boldness or humility. If you tend to be meek, ask God to fill you with boldness through the Holy Spirit. And if you tend to be bold by nature, ask God to fill you with humility through the Holy Spirit.