"Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, 'Whom are you seeking?' They answered Him, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' Jesus said to them, 'I am He.' And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, 'I am He,' they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, 'Whom are you seeking?' And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' Jesus answered, 'I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,' that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, 'Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.'"
The officers who came with Judas undoubtedly greatly outnumbered Jesus and the eleven, and they were prepared for resistance. They had plenty of light to conduct a thorough search if Jesus fled, and weapons to put down any physical opposition that might arise--as if Jesus and His apostles were violent criminals! It is interesting to observe that Jesus died for the whole world, both Jews and Gentiles (cf. I John 2:2), and both Jews and Gentiles took an active part in this wicked scheme.
Why did they arrest Jesus at night? Because of fear--fear of the multitudes who surrounded Him during the day and supported Him. It may also be that they feared Jesus would use His miraculous abilities against them. Thus, they gathered a large group to give themselves "assurance" in numbers, and Judas stood with them against Jesus.
"Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, 'Whom are you seeking?'" - John mentions the foreknowledge of Jesus to remind us that He could have avoided being arrested had He chosen to do so. Jesus asks this question for a couple reasons: (1) To openly and bravely declare His identity (He would not run or hide as a criminal would) and (2) To confine the arrest to Himself (thus, delivering the apostles).
They sought "Jesus of Nazareth." He boldly declared to them - "I am." Perhaps He is only identifying Himself ("I am He"), but maybe He is communicating more than this (cf. John 8:58 - "I AM").
When Jesus had said, "I am," "they drew back and fell to the ground." Some commentators see herein a miracle of Jesus, but such seems unlikely. It seems more probable that they were so startled by His calm and majestic affirmation of His identity that they stepped backward in shock and fell all over themselves.
Jesus asks the same question again, and they answer in the same manner. "I have told you that I am. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way" - Jesus' thoughts were for the welfare of His apostles, even in His hour of trial (cf. 10:12,13). His intent here is to prevent the eleven from being arrested. Thus, He reminds the mob of whom they were there for (i.e., Him).
"That the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, 'Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none'" (cf. 17:12). Jesus' interest was primarily for the spiritual safety of His apostles. On this occasion He evidently feels that the best way to protect them from spiritual harm is to deliver them physically from the mob.
We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.