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?" John 18:3-4 (ESV)
They were looking for God! They didn't know it, of course. They were doing the job that had been assigned. Judas was carrying out the deal he had made with the religious leaders. The soldiers were on the track of a person who they had been told was a terrorist. They were walled in darkness. They carried torches because the night was thick with darkness. They had darkness in their hearts because they could not see the Light who was before their very eyes.
The author John tells a good story. He began this treatise with:
In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)
Jesus had come to reveal the true nature of God to mankind. He was and is the light that causes the darkness of confusion to dissipate. What irony! Now as the story begins to climax, these men of darkness carry torches to find him who is the light of the world, but can't see him. They view him as an enemy when he is actually the object of their life's search.
It is the same story for all of mankind. Ever since the Garden of Eden, men and women have groped in darkness looking for the fellowship Adam had with God. Blinded by self-centered arrogance, they have viewed God as an enemy when he was their only hope of making any sense of life's experiences. When plans don't play out as they hope, they find ways to blame God and his order. But they end up falling to the ground when he identifies himself.
When the men with torches and swords came stumbling through the garden looking for the insurrectionist, Jesus goes toward them. He asks them, "Whom do you seek?" Notice that they didn't control this engagement even though they had the swords. When Jesus acknowledged that he was their target by saying "I am he," they fell backward. The darkness cannot overcome the light... ever.
Could it be that what we are fighting against in our own attitudes might just be God incognito? Maybe the issue is not the external obstacle that seems to create so much pain. Maybe the terrorist we have identified is none other than the light of our world we so desperately need.
"Open our eyes, Lord, to see what your light exposes. We don't know ourselves very well and we don't know you well enough to cease our striving and rest in your care."