Mark 14:43-53; Matthew
26:47-56; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12
Two days before the
Passover Jesus told His disciples that He would "be
delivered up for crucifixion" (Matthew 26:2).
The chief priests and the
leaders of the Jewish people were meeting together
in the court of the high priest named Joseph
Caiaphas where "they plotted together to seize Jesus
by stealth, and kill Him" (vv. 3-4). As they
developed their plot they said, "Not during the
festival, lest a riot occur among the people" (v.
5). Jerusalem was very explosive at Passover time;
therefore they would postpone the crucifixion of
Jesus until after the large crowds left town. They
were afraid of an uprising of the people because
Jesus had many followers in Jerusalem at the time of
the Passover. Matthew's gospel clearly presents
Jesus is in control of all the events regarding the
timing of His betrayal and crucifixion. He is Lord
even of the timing of His crucifixion and the events
At the same time Judas
Iscariot went to the chief priests and said, "'What
are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to
you?' And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of
silver. And from then on he began looking for a good
opportunity to betray Him" (vv. 14-16). It is the
sin of cold, calculated, callous deliberation as to
how he can deliver Jesus up to the enemy. The evil
of this offense is that Judas was one of the twelve
disciples. This was not someone off the street in
the general public who was offended by Jesus'
teachings. This is one the closest companions who is
participating in the Passover meal. As they commence
with the meal Jesus confronted Judas who must have
been stunned when he heard these words of Jesus.
"Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the
table with the twelve disciples. As they were
eating, He said, 'Truly I say to you that one of you
will betray Me.' Being deeply grieved, they each one
began to say to Him, 'Surely not I, Lord?' And He
answered, 'He who dipped his hand with Me in the
bowl is the one who will betray Me. The Son of Man
is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to
that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It
would have been good for that man if he had not been
born.' And Judas, who was betraying Him, said,
'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?' Jesus said to him, 'You
have said it yourself'" (Matthew 26:20-25, NASB95).
(All Scripture references are from the New American
Standard Bible 1995 Update unless otherwise noted).
The other disciples were all startled, "deeply
grieved" or "very much, exceedingly distressed."
They were "sick at heart" to use the words of Rieu.
"Is it I?" More exactly their question is asked in a
form that expects a negative answer. "Surely
not I, Lord?" Judas was pretty slick. J. C. Ryle
observes, "When our Lord said, 'One of you shall
betray Me,' no one said, 'Is it Judas?'"
The apostle John helps us
understand what was going on. "Jesus then answered,
'That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and
give it to him.' So when He had dipped the morsel,
He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon
Iscariot. After the morsel, Satan then entered into
him. Therefore Jesus said to him, 'What you do, do
quickly.' Now no one of those reclining at the table
knew for what purpose He had said this to him.… So
after receiving the morsel he went out immediately;
and it was night" (John 13:26-28, 30). The disciples
thought that since Judas was the treasurer Jesus was
sending him out to make purchases for the Passover.
It is as if Jesus issued a command and Judas went
out and set into motion his dastardly deed with the
high priest. Now they set their plan in motion to
kill Jesus. Until now Jesus has often said, "My hour
has not come," and now it has arrived (John 2:4;
The death of Jesus Christ
takes place in the will of God, and nothing has been
done outside of God's eternal purpose. God used
Judah's sin to bring about His goal. However, Judas
was not compelled by God to betray Jesus. That was
His volitional choice, and he suffered the eternal
consequence of that decision.
John tells us Judas knew
the place where Jesus would probably be because He
often went there with His disciples (John 18:2). It
may have been that Judas went first to the upper
room looking for Jesus and didn't find Him so he led
the group of Temple police and Roman soldiers from
the tower of Antonia to the Garden of Gethsemane.
Alfred Eldersheim tells us this Temple-guard were
neither regularly armed nor trained. Nor would the
Romans have tolerated a regular armed Jewish force
in Jerusalem" (Life and Times of Jesus the
Messiah, vol. 2, p. 541). The Roman soldiers
were "an emergency police force" to quell any
uprising in Jerusalem. Since these were Roman
soldiers the Sanhedrin and high priest got
permission from the governor Pilate to use them.
"The arrangement of this matter would account for
the delay in the coming of Judas and the armed force
to Gethsemane until after midnight. The temple
police were under direct order as servant-officers
from the chief priests and Pharisees" (John W.
Shepherd, The Christ of the Gospels, p. 570).
Judas arrived with a
large group of officers from the chief priests,
Pharisees and Roman soldiers carrying "torches,
lanterns and weapons" (John 18:3). Matthew tells us
Judas was "accompanied by a great multitude with
swords and clubs" (Matt. 26:47).
"So Jesus, knowing all
the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and
said to them, 'Whom do you seek?'" (John 18:4). They
answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." Judas is standing
with these religious leaders, and Jesus responded "I
am." In English we say, "I am he." However, the
original is simply, "I AM." The Jewish leaders would
be struck by this affirmation of Deity. God was
answering them. The great I AM THAT I AM.
"So when He said to them,
'I am He,' they drew back and fell to the ground.
Therefore He again asked them, 'Whom do you seek?'
And they said, 'Jesus the Nazarene.' Jesus answered,
'I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let
these go their way,' to fulfill the word which He
spoke, 'Of those whom You have given Me I lost not
one'" (John 18:6-9). God spoke and they went
backward and fell to the ground. Dwight Pentecost
says, "The Greek verb for 'fell' used here may refer
to 'one overcome in battle by a superior' (Luke
21:24), or mean 'to fall down before high ranking
persons or divine beings' (Matt. 2:11); rev. 5:14).
The verb itself does not tell us whether the solders
fell down because Christ exerted power over them or
whether they fell down out of respect for His royal
person. But whether voluntarily or involuntarily,
those who represented the power of Rome were bowing
before the Lord" (The Words and Works of Jesus
Christ, p. 458). It reminds of a coming day when all
mankind will bow and worship Him (Phil. 2:9-11).
The Romans came prepared
for conflict with their swords, but the Lamb of God
humbly submitted as a lamb led to the slaughter.
Jesus is absolutely in control of the situation.
"For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay
down My life so that I may take it again. No one has
taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own
initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I
have authority to take it up again. This commandment
I received from My Father" (John 10:17-18).
At this point Judas
proceeds to go up to Jesus and hypocritically greets
Him according to the prearranged sign with repeated
kisses (Mark 14:44). The kiss was a normal form of
greeting between a host and a guest, or between
rabbis and their disciples. There was no reason for
the disciples to think it out of place at first when
Judas greeted Jesus in the Garden. It would have
appeared to be a greeting of friendship until the
exaggerated, prolonged, overdone showy hug.
Eldersheim says, "As the band reached the Garden,
Judas went somewhat in advance of them, and reached
Jesus just as he had roused the three and was
preparing to go and meet His captors. He saluted
Him, 'Hail, Rabbi,' so as to be heard by the rest,
and not only kissed but covered Him with kisses,
kissed Him repeatedly, loudly, effusively. The
Savior submitted to the indignity . . ." (vol. 2, p.
543). The friendly oriental embrace was the signal
for handing over the Master to His enemies.
Obviously Judas was "overplaying his part."
"And Jesus said to him,
'Friend, do what you have come for.' Then they came
and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him" (Matthew
Judas stands sheltering
himself in the background with the armed men as
Jesus is led away. The only time we hear of him
again is the sound of his body falling to the ground
Peter is standing near
Jesus and sees what is happening. With passion he is
ready to deliver Jesus from this band of soldiers.
He has a large knife or a short sword (machaira)
he had probably used to prepare the Passover lamb.
Obviously, he is not a skilled swordsman. He aims at
the high priest's servant's head and hits his right
ear. John writes, "Simon Peter then, having a sword,
drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut
off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus.
So Jesus said to Peter, 'Put the sword into the
sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall
I not drink it?' So the Roman cohort and the
commander and the officers of the Jews, arrested
Jesus and bound Him" (John 18:10-12). The Physician
Luke says Jesus touched the ear of the high priest's
servant and healed him (Luke 22:51). Leon Morris
says, "Jesus promptly intervened. It may well be
that this quick action prevented Peter from being
arrested" (Matthew, p. 675).
Matthew includes these
words of Jesus, "Or do you think that I cannot
appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My
disposal more than twelve legions of angels?"
(Matthew 26:53). Surely Peter knew from personal
observation the divine power of Jesus over the
forces of nature. Did he really think Jesus needed
his feeble help? Or is this over compensation of
Peter's low self-esteem?
Matthew and Mark stress
that all of this is happening to fulfill the Old
Testament Scriptures. "How then will the Scriptures
be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this
way?" (v. 54). Matthew's gospel has
successfully documented the fulfillment of many of
the Old Testament prophecies regarding the coming of
Christ and His death. What was taking place this
night was the fulfillment of the eternal purpose of
God. It was a divine "must." William Hendriksen
writes: "Had it not been for God's eternal decree
with respect to man's salvation, a decree reflected
in the prophets (Isa. 53:7, 10, 12; Jer. 23:6; Dan.
9:26; Zech. 11:12; 13:1, etc.), these captors could
have accomplished nothing at all!" (Matthew, p.
"At that time Jesus said
to the crowds, 'Have you come out with swords and
clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber?
Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and
you did not seize Me. But all this has taken place
to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.' Then all
the disciples left Him and fled" (Matthew 26:54-56).
It would not have been difficult to have found Jesus
that entire week while He was teaching in the Temple
precincts. They were not seeking the good of the
public, but their own self-interests. Indeed, they
could not arrest Him until He chose the time and
place. No man can interfere with God's plan and
Mark adds, "A young man
was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet
over his naked body; and they seized him. But he
pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked"
(Mark 14:51-52). Most scholars are in agreement that
the young man is probably the author of the Gospel,
John Mark. Eldersheim writes, "When the soldiers had
come to seek Jesus in the Upper Chamber of his home,
Mark, roused from sleep, had hastily cast about him
the loose linen garment or wrapper that lay by his
bedside, and followed the armed band to see what
would come of it. He now lingered in the rear, and
followed as they led away Jesus, never imagining
that they would attempt to lay hold on him, since he
had not been with the disciples nor yet in the
Garden. But they, perhaps the Jewish servants of the
High-Priest, had noticed him. They attempted to lay
hold on him, when, disengaging himself from their
grasps, he left this upper garments in their hands
and fled" (vol. 2, p. 545).
Instead of calling down
twelve legions of angels to deliver Him, Jesus chose
to submit to the will of God (Matt 26:52).
Title: Arrest and
Trial of Jesus
Series: Life of