Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. 51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. 56 But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled. – Matthew 26:47-56.

Vv.47–50 — While Jesus was still speaking to Peter, James, and John in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas (one of Jesus’ twelve disciples), with a great crowd bearing swords (Roman soldiers) and clubs (temple guards), comes from the Jewish religious leaders to take Jesus. They come as predators to attack the Lamb of God. The sign is that Judas would kiss Jesus to ensure, in those dark hours, his correct identification. This he does, greeting Him at the same time. The composure and quiet control of Jesus is evident as He calls him ‘Friend’ and asks him why he has come, knowing full well the answer. The crowd descend on Jesus and take Him.

Vv.51–52 — One of Jesus’ disciples, identified elsewhere as the impetuous Peter (John 18:10), strikes the ear of the high priest Caiaphas’ servant (Malchus) and cuts it off. Jesus rebukes and restrains him. (We learn elsewhere – Luke 22:50, 51 – that Jesus healed that man at this time.)

V.53 — Jesus knew who He was (cf. John 13:1). He knew the resources of His Father. Jesus confirms that if He asked His Father for more than twelve legions of angels (a great number) to deliver Him, they would be sent to His aid, but now He was resolved to die (cf. John 10:17-18)!

“more than twelve legions of angels” — A Roman legion had 6,000 men, but the term was also an idiom for several thousand.

“How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” (v.54) “But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled” (v.56).

Jesus says that His sufferings must happen in the way it was unfolding so that “the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled” enabling Him to achieve His grand purpose to redeem lost sinners by His death on the cross.

We know that John accompanied Jesus through the trials and the crucifixion and that Peter followed at a distance (cf. Matt. 26:58). Therefore, this is a general reference going back to Isaiah 53:6. Jesus knew that events were proceeding just as they should to fulfill the Father’s purpose.

This could refer to the sufferings Jesus had foretold the disciples several times (first in Matt. 16:21-28), involving a suffering, rejected Messiah (see Genesis 3:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53; Zechariah 9:9,10 & ch.12).

As He allows the rabble to take Him, all His disciples forsake Him and flee.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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