John 18:5 Why did they fall on the ground?

John 18:4-6 Knowing everything that was to happen to him, Jesus came forward and said, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They answered, ‘Jesus the Nazarene.’ He said, ‘I am he.’ Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he,’ they moved back and fell on the ground.


On the literal level, one explanation is the soldiers could have fallen down because they were so taken aback by Jesus’ openness that they kind of stumbled or tripped. (Admittedly, there’s almost no literal explanation that cannot make sense of this comment without making it sound kinda lame, though.) On the deeper level (and when we speak of John’s gospel, the deeper level is usually what’s more important), the soldiers fall on the ground because that is the human reaction when people see God (note: Jesus identifies Himself as egō eimi “I am,” the same term God used to identify Himself to Moses). Throughout John’s passion narrative, John makes it clear that Jesus is running the show, that He is the one in charge. Jesus who exhibits the power of God (and who reveals God’s name) stands, the powerless soldiers fall down in submission, maybe even defeat.

A little nervous, they were! :smiley:

I think that you are right Patrick, but maybe there is the element of prior to His statement, “I Am He” , He is actually very approachable and unassuming. They were packed full of nerves setting out to arrest this man whom they heard so many amazing stories about and knew that he put fear into the greatest of leaders, both secular and religious. When He said, “I Am He”, they realized how close they were to Him.

Prostration. A way to acknowledge the Divine. In their case “just in case”. :wink:
Tonight priests everywhere will prostrate themselves. Good passage to reflect upon.

I am going to follow the replies since I’ve never read anything on this, my favorite passage. :smiley:

My understanding when I read this is that an army has come to arrest Jesus. God himself in the flesh proclaimed I AM and they were knocked unconscious. It showed that Jesus volunteered on his own power to go with them to the crucifixion, not by man’s hand or strength. It was a supernatural event. NOT them bowing down to some guy they came to arrest.

In the Old Testament they believed no man could see God and live. Here Jesus shows both his power and his withholding his power. It will not be like that when He comes in glory!

My 2 cents on an event with great mystery and awe.

They fell down because when Jesus said “I AM” he said his divine name. And it was the divine power of Jesus that compelled them all to drop down to the ground. It was Jesus’ way of letting them (and us) know that they had no power over him and that what they were about to do was only because Jesus was going to allow it to happen.

Pilate therefore said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”

  • John 19:10-11 (RSV-CE)

I thought it was the power of the holy spirit?

Like has been seen at Pentecostal and the likes services, people regularly are ‘knocked out’ and fall to the ground, of course they have people to assist them, so its not a hard fall…this is strange this does not happen at any catholic mass Ive ever been to…makes me wonder?

I realize some will say its fake, but I can honestly say it IS NOT, ive seen this happen to many many people, they are literally knocked out cold, usually for under 5 minutes, but they are truly out, falling in the manner these people fall, is not something that can be faked by most people.

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