Text: Matthew 26:47-56
While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.” Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. And Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 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? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”
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.
Text: Mark 14:43-52
Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.” After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him. They laid hands on Him and seized Him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.” And they all left Him and fled.
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.
Text: Luke 22:47-53
While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.”
Text: John 18:2-11
Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 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.” 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?”
The fact that all the gospel writers have their own record of this even shows to us how much all of them thought it was significant. For the gospel writers who were disciples the emotional attachment to this event must have been very high but when Luke studies it later he realizes it is very significant as well. To all them there was a twofold emotional stress. On the one hand they would have been angry with Judas for betraying Christ but also they would have had their own feelings about how they failed to stand by Jesus at the moment of truth.
All of the accounts have their own flavor and points of emphasis:
Matthew looks at the betrayal in the eyes of fulfilling Jewish prophecy as proof that Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus also points out in his account that he could indeed as the son of God have called a legion of angels to his defense but does not do so. The person who swung the sword in the story is unnamed.
Mark also does not name the sword swinger ether and seems to focus on how quick things happened and his own involvement where he is dressed only in a blanket and when they come to grab him he simply throws himself free of the blanket to escape naked. Interesting considering that it was cold that evening, the fear the disciples suddenly felt must have been very great.
Luke’s account doesn’t really add anything new here other than it is because of Luke we know the reason swords were present in the disciples hands were that Jesus had directed it to be so. In any case it is the disciples who ask Jesus whether it is time to strike in this account.
John actually gives more details. The soldiers were the Roman cohort that was probably attached to the High Priest and Sanhedrin so they could enforce their laws. We also in John now know who it was that struck with the sword – Peter. It is also interesting that John adds some detail to how the encounter with the soldiers went. Jesus identifies himself but also does so in such a way they fall backwards because he identifies himself as I AM. It then probably takes Judas’ kiss to get them to then act to arrest Jesus.
In the end we see a picture of Christ not being taken by force but going willingly to slaughter like a Lamb. He has the power to call angels, stop his arrest with a word and given the fact he heals Malchus we could also say that every hit, stripe, thorn prick and wound he will receive he could have instantly healed on himself as well. Jesus is arrested to be sure but the message would have been clearly sent that he was choosing to be arrested. Jesus is going willfully to his death. Once his disciples realize this is not going to be the first moments of a revolution, they are unwilling to lay down their lives as well and scatter just as Jesus had predicted mere hours before.
Next: Trial Before Annas and Caiaphas