They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said unto them,
I am he.
And Judas also, who betrayed him, stood with them.
Read Chapter 18
Cornelius a Lapide
They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. They said not, "We seek Thee," but they say, "We seek Jesus." And therefore they did not recognise Him, though pointed out by the traitor"s kiss (because Jesus had smitten them with blindness), and though the officers of the chief Priests had often seen and heard Him before this. So S. Chrysostom says: "Thou seest His irresistible power, that standing in the midst of them He smote them with blindness." And S. Cyril, "His Divine Power shone forth, for though He put Himself in their way, He was not recognised by those who were seeking Him."
And Judas also, who betrayed Him, stood with them. Judas had preceded the soldiers in order to betray Jesus, but finding that they did not rush forward to take Him, he became conscious of his perfidy, and turned back in obstinate impenitence, not to the disciples, but to the soldiers, in order to be defended by them against Jesus, whose power he feared, and was therefore struck to the ground with them. So S. Augu...
But perhaps some may reply: The Roman soldier perhaps knew not Jesus, and the servants of the Jews shared their ignorance. We answer that any such suggestion is groundless. For how could they who were selected to the priesthood fail to know Him, Who was in their power continually when He was teaching daily in the temple, as our Saviour Himself says? But that no one should trust in arguments of this sort, and miss apprehending the truth, the inspired Evangelist, foreseeing this, is impelled to add, that with the soldiers and the servants was standing Judas also, which betrayed Him. Then how could the traitor fail to recognise the Lord? You may answer that it was night, and dark, and therefore not easy to see Him of Whom they were in search. How worthy our admiration is the writer of the book, in that not even so small a point as this has escaped his notice! For he has said that, when they came into the garden, they had lanterns and torches in their hands. A solution, therefore, is found...
Jesus here asks them, whom they were seeking, not as if He were ignorant of their errand, but to show them, that of their own power they could do nothing, because, though He, whom they sought, was present, and stood before them, yet, they did not know him. (Theophylactus)
The darkness of the night could not have been the reason why they did not see him, because, as the evangelist observes, they had lanterns and torches with them, and if they could not see him, at least they might have known him by his voice; for how could Judas, their leader, who was one of his own apostles, be unable to know him by his voice. (St. Chrysostom)
Do you see His invincible power, how being in the midst of them He disabled their eyes? For that the darkness was not the cause of their not knowing Him, the Evangelist has shown, by saying, that they had torches also. And even had there been no torches, they ought at least to have known Him by His voice; or if they did not know it, how could Judas be ignorant, who had been so continually with Him? For he too stood with them, and knew Him no more than they, but with them fell backward. And Jesus did this to show, that not only they could not seize Him, but could not even see Him when in the midst, unless He gave permission.