About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Jesus Arrested (ch. 18:1-11)

 

We learn at this point in time
that Jesus and the Eleven left wherever they were, whether it was in the upper room or somewhere else.  They cross the Kidron Valley which was a creek that ran in the winter  and was dry most other parts of the year.  Once across the valley they entered an Olive grove, which we know to be the Garden of Gethsemane from the other gospel writers.

 

The Kidron Creek is where the priests used to dump the blood from the animal sacrifices.  I'm sure it was not a very pleasant creek to look at.

 

The word Gethsemane means an oil press.  If you read the other gospel accounts the meaning of Gethsemane is quite fitting for Jesus.  It is where he prayed that if possible, His cup of death would pass from Him.  We know from other gospel accounts that Jesus sweat drops of blood during this prayer.  For some reason, John omits this from his narrative. 

 

We see from verses 2 and 3 that Jesus had often come to this garden with His disciples so Judas anticipated Jesus being their.  For this reason he came to the garden along with soldiers that were sent from the chief priest and Pharisees.  These soldiers were temple guards employed by the Sanhedrin.  They were well equipped with weaponry as Jesus comments on later. They were ready to take Jesus by force and maybe for some reason might have anticipated a fight, but we know Jesus doesnít fight.

 

Along with the temple police described in the last paragraph were Roman guards, or soldiers, as the NIV puts it.  Note that some of the soldiers had clubs and others had swords.  The temple police carried clubs while the Roman soldiers carried swords.

 

We don't know the exact number of temple police and Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus.  Historians estimate that there were anywhere from 200 to 600 men to arrest one man.  You might think this was overkill, but there was a great fear that Jesus might have been leading a mass rebellion at the busiest time of the year in Jerusalem.   

 

In verse 4 we learn that Jesus knew what was about to happen to Him.  John says that He knew everything that was about to happen to Him.  This would include Judas' kiss, Peter cutting off the soldiers ear, and everything else.  As He entered the garden His heart must have been exceedingly heavy, knowing that in a brief moment of time the end was about to begin.

 

Jesus sees Judas and the soldiers and asks, "Who is it that you want?" Jesus knew who they wanted; He just wanted to hear them say it.  Iím sure that the words spoken by the betrayers would have been recorded in the eternal books in Heaven and would be read back to those who spoke these words on the Day of Judgment.

 

In verse 5 they replied, "Jesus of Nazareth."  Jesus of Nazareth would have been the most human distinction these men could have used;' and why not?  They did not believe that He was anything more than a man with great delusions from Nazareth.

 

John notes that Judas was standing with the soldiers as Jesus answered, "I am He."  John does not, however, record that Judas kissed Jesus as we see in other gospel accounts.  Here is another one of those great "I AM" statements that we have seen John record.  The fact that these words came out of Jesusí mouth caused these men to fall backward to the ground, as seen in verse 6.  These werenít the words of a mere man from Nazareth.  They were the words of God, and when spoken, no one could stand in His presence.  If there is such a thing as being slain in the Spirit, this would have been it.  One can't help but wonder what the soldiers thought about this as they attempted to stand to their feet.  This was in fact a testimony to the fact of who Jesus really was.  

 

In verse 7, with the soldiers on the ground, Jesus asks them a second time, "Who do you want?"   It is like once was not good enough for Jesus.  He wanted their words recorded in the annals of history forever.  Our own words often condemn us and their words certainly condemned them.      

 

Once again the soldiers replied by saying, "Jesus of Nazareth."

 

In verse 8 Jesus replied to them by saying, "I told you, I am He."  It is like Jesus was telling these men, "I have already told you once.  I am the one you are looking for."  It was at the request of Jesus that they told Him who they were looking for the second time.  They might have thought, "Donít get frustrated with us; youíre the one who has asked us twice."

 

In verse 8 Jesus then tells the soldiers to let His disciples go.  It was clear that the soldiers were about to arrest the eleven men with Jesus.  Remember, the Roman soldiers expected that they were going to meet a mob who was going to start a revolt.  It would have been normal for them to arrest the whole mob. 

 

In verse 9 John points out that by not harming the disciples was a fulfillment of the prophecy where Jesus predicted that He would not lose any of His disciples.  See John 6:39. 

 

In verse 10 John says that Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the high priestís soldierís ear.  This is typical Peter.  He would rush in where others feared to go, but, this is not what Jesus wanted.  If you remember, Jesus told the Eleven on their way into Jerusalem to pick up a couple of swords.  This must have been one of those swords.

 

From Matthew and Markís account we know that when Peter strikes the soldier, the actual arrest had taken place.  This was an impulsive response by Peter to the arrest, but Jesus was to go to His death willingly.  There was not to be any struggle.  Peterís actions almost blew the whole plan, but Jesus fixed things by putting the ear back onto the soldierís head.  Can you imagine that?  After Jesus healed this man they still took Him away.  Again, one has got to wonder just how the soldiers felt upon seeing this miracle.  One might also wonder how the soldier who Jesus healed felt about his ear being placed back on his head.  I wonder if this man eventually became a believer.

 

I think I can safely say that Peter wasn't trying to cut the soldiers ear off.  That would be a difficult task.  I think Peter was trying to behead the soldier but simply missed. 

 

In verse 11 Jesus commanded Peter to put His sword away because He had to drink of the cup that His Father gave Him to drink.  This was His Fatherís plan.  He had to willingly go through with it.  This reminds me of Isaiah 53 where we see that it pleased God to bruise His one and only Son.

 

In Hebrew culture the word "cup" as it is used here simply means one's destiny.  It was Jesus' destiny to die on the cross and Peter, and no one else, would change this destiny. 

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