Notice how Jesus identified himself to his enemies in John 18.5. He told them, “…I am he….” The he in this sentence is italicized, meaning that it was not in the original Greek text. The Greek text simply says “I am.” This phrase comes from the Greek words ego eimi, (ἐγώ εἰμι) which literally means “I AM!” It was not the first time Jesus used this phrase to identify Himself; He uses this phrase throughout John’s gospel, 7 times to my counting.
When the hearers of that day who knew their scripture heard the words ego eimi, they immediately recognized them as the very words God used to identify Himself when He spoke to Moses on Mount Horeb in Exodus 3:14. These were words of awesome authority to the person writing this account of the Savior’s arrest in Gethsemane. Jesus was identifying himself as Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament, the God who liberated Israel from Egyptian slavery, the God who has the power to release us from the powers of darkness. To me it is fitting that by invoking his name, Jesus was able to literally cause these men to fall to the ground. It is a perfect symbol of both his astounding power and his willingness to submit to the arrest and eventually to his death on the cross of Calvary.