Arresting Almighty God

Posted: May 13, 2013 in Matthew

Matthew 26:47-56, “Arresting Almighty God”

It was the vilest act in all human history.  Of all of the traitorous acts of betrayal that have taken place, none have been worse than the actions of Judas that night.  Benedict Arnold is known for his surrender and defection to the British.  He betrayed his fledgling country, and he has gone down in infamy.  What Judas did was so much worse: he betrayed God.

Judas had walked with Jesus for three years.  He lived with Him, slept next to Him, ate with Him, saw His miracles, experienced His teaching and grace.  Judas had experienced everything that every other apostle had experienced.  There was nothing in his time with Jesus that was deficient or that left Judas at a disadvantage.  When Peter had his revelation that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, by all accounts Judas would have been right there among the rest, in full agreement.  Yet there was something that changed in Judas along the line.  Instead of giving praise to Jesus (as his very name implies: Judah), Judas ended up despising Jesus.  He sold his Master for a paltry sum of money, and came out with a mob to arrest the Son of God.

At this point, things seem to go haywire.  At first, everything was quiet and solemn.  The disciples had finished a Passover meal with Jesus, and although it was a bit unusual, it was still a time of reverence and worship.  They had gone out to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus spent much time in prayer, and the disciples spent much time in sleep (when they should have been praying!).  That’s when everything changes.  Jesus comes back to wake the disciples, and all of a sudden Judas is there with an angry crowd, Peter swings a sword, and Jesus is arrested – led off to be tried and killed.  So many things can change in the blink of an eye!  The disciples were panicked, left reeling at what was going on.

What looked to be chaos was anything but.  As Matthew makes clear, Jesus was in absolute control the whole time.  Judas’ cold-hearted treachery could not diminish Jesus’ power – Peter’s wild reaction would not undo God’s will – the mob’s vengeance could not upset God’s timing.  Almighty God may have been under arrest, but He was never once out of command.  Jesus was in control of the entire situation the entire time.

Matthew 26:47–56

  • The Betrayal

47 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.

  • A few things leap off the page at us immediately.  First, the speed of the events.  Judas came “while He was still speaking.”  Jesus had not yet finished telling the disciples that the time had come when Judas arrived on the scene.  It’s no wonder Jesus seemed amazed that the disciples had been sleeping.  Not only was there the emotional stress of the events of the day, but there was the sheer noise of such a great crowd of people coming.  This was not a sneak-attack by any stretch of the imagination!  Yet here was Judas, suddenly come & the time was at hand.
    • Think of it from another perspective as well.  Jesus had just finished His time of prayer, asking the Father for another way, but submitting to the will of God no matter what it was.  As soon as Jesus gets done praying this, Judas shows up.  This was God’s answer to Jesus’ prayer.  There was no other way, and God’s will was that Jesus be taken and rejected – and God did not delay in sending Judas to get the job started.  God answered Jesus’ prayer, acting according to His will and plan.
    • Sometimes when we pray, we don’t get the answer we might desire, but we can be assured that God DOES answer prayer.  Sometimes God says “yes” & sometimes He says “no” – but there is an answer there.  In Jesus’ case, God actually answered “yes.”  It was not possible for the cup of God’s wrath to pass from Jesus, but Jesus prayed for the Father’s will to be done; not Jesus’.  And God said “yes” to His own will.
  • Second, Judas is described again as “one of the twelve.”  Matthew is driving home the point that this was one of Jesus’ disciples – this was a deep betrayal by someone who had seemed to be a true friend of Jesus.  This underscores the depth of the betrayal.  We understand that the Pharisees and Sadducees always hated Jesus.  We understand how the Romans would have been threatened by Jesus.  What we don’t understand is how someone who lived with Jesus as one of the 12 could actually turn his back so much on the grace and love of Christ to actually turn Jesus over to his death.  There is a depravity here that is absolutely shocking.  It’s no wonder that the gospels show that Judas was possessed by Satan (Lk 22:3, Jn 13:27).  It seems that someone would have to be possessed in order to do something so vile.  Of course, that’s the depravity of human nature.  Satan would not have entered into Judas unless Judas had first opened the door of opportunity, and obviously he had.  Judas had known Jesus was the Messiah, but Judas had never received Jesus as his Messiah.  Judas had known Jesus to be God, but Judas never personally recognized Jesus as God.  He had seen it all, and Judas still chose to turn his back on the Savior.  Judas gave himself over to his own depravity, and this was the result.
    • There seems to be no limit to the depravity of man.  Every time we turn around, we see another news story of true evil among us.  (Gosnell, kidnappings, slavery, etc.)  That is what ALL humans are capable of, apart from the grace of God.  And this is why we need the grace of God so badly!
  • Third, Judas did not come alone.  He came “with a great multitude with swords and clubs…from the chief priests and elders.”  We sometimes get a mental picture of Judas coming with a couple of Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus, but the Biblical record seems to be very different.  Judas came with a huge crowd sanctioned by the Jewish leadership.  Luke tells us that the “captains of the temple” were there (Lk 22:52), and John affirms there was a “detachment of troops” (Jn 18:3).  It is indeed possible that Roman soldiers were among the multitude, but there is no specific mention of Roman soldiers anywhere in the Biblical account (John’s word for “detachment” could be a technical term for a Roman cohort [1/10 of a legion], but it could also be used generically).  From the whole of the four gospels, it would seem that the chief priests and Pharisees sent out a detachment of the temple guard to arrest Jesus, and a “great multitude” of an unruly crowd accompanied them.  A massive crowd of people who grabbed whatever weapon was available to them came with Judas, descended upon the Mount of Olives, all gathered to arrest one Man and overwhelm His 11 remaining disciples.
    • The fact that it was a mob is bad enough, but consider the makeup of the mob.  These were primarily Jewish people.  This was the beginning of the nation of Israel formally rejecting its Messiah.  The Romans will get involved soon enough (Caiaphas will see to that after his kangaroo court), but the rejection of the Messiah begins with the people for whom the Messiah had specifically come: the Jews.

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.

  • Considering how long Jesus had been in Jerusalem over the past week, and how much attention He had gained at His triumphal entry, it’s interesting that Judas had the need to have an identifying sign for Jesus. There could be a few reasons for the needed sign: (1) it was dark, and Judas would have a far easier time picking out Jesus from the 11 than anyone else.  (2) Though Jesus was well-known to some, He may not have been easily recognized by others, and Judas’ sign would assist in the confusion.  (3) Beyond the identification of Jesus, the sign would have served as the “green light” for proceeding with the arrest.
  • Regardless the reason for the sign, Judas did not hesitate in using it.  He & the mob arrived on the scene and “immediately he went up to Jesus.”  There was not so much a pause for reflection; simply an immediate sign to seize the One he had previously followed as Messiah.  There is a callousness here.  Judas is completely cold-hearted in his betrayal.  He came with a singular sinful purpose: to betray the Son of Man.  Nothing was going to stop him or even slow him down in the process.
  • The callousness carries over to the sign itself.  It’s one thing to betray a friend & former Master; it’s another thing to use an act of love to do it.  Judas “kissed” Jesus in his betrayal.  To be sure, a kiss was not an unusual form of greeting between friends – but that was the problem.  Judas was no longer acting as a friend; he was acting completely opposite!  He was being hateful to Jesus – betraying Him, having Him arrested, likely knowing it meant His death.  And yet how did Judas choose to accomplish this act?  Via a kiss.  Actually, the word has emphasis in the Greek – this could even be translated as a “tender kiss.”  It’s as if Judas was attempting to be as ostentatious as possible – completely duplicitous & cold, despite the outward show of affection.  Even the words he spoke twisted the knife of betrayal.  “Greetings” could also be translated “Rejoice / Hail.”  The Greek is χαίρω, and is indeed the same word for “joy.”  In Matthew, the wise men had “rejoiced” when they saw the star for Jesus (2:10), Jesus told people to rejoice when they are persecuted (5:12), the shepherd rejoiced over finding the one lost sheep over the 99 (18:13).  From this point, the only time the word is used is by Judas & the soldiers who put upon Jesus a crown of thorns.  Both times the joyful greeting was used in mockery and disdain.  There was nothing joyful about this event, but that’s what Judas pretended it was.  Judas even went so far as to call Jesus “Rabbi,” meaning “Teacher.”  As if Judas respected the teachings of Jesus any longer!  During the Last Supper, the other disciples had called Jesus “Lord,” and Judas seemed to be the only one who used the term “Rabbi” at that time.  He continues on here.  Jesus is just a “teacher” to Judas, and apparently a teacher that could be ignored or cast aside.  We can almost hear the sarcasm dripping off his lips as he speaks the word.
    • What Judas did openly, many others do in less obvious ways today.  They sneer at Jesus, reviling His person and teaching, even while outwardly claiming to respect Him.  All sorts of secular scholars will patronize the Lord, saying how nice & ethical Jesus’ teachings were, but then say that it is absolutely crazy to believe that He is God.  Even the atheist Richard Dawkins engages in this.  From an interview he gave to the British paper, the Guardian: “I wrote [an] article called ‘Atheists for Jesus,’ I think it was… Somebody gave me a t-shirt: ‘Atheists for Jesus.’ Well, the point was that Jesus was a great moral teacher and I was suggesting that somebody as intelligent as Jesus would have been an atheist if he had known what we know today.”  What absolute rubbish!  And it’s not terribly different than what Judas did in the garden.  It’s to compliment Jesus on one hand, and then stab Him in the back with the other.  To claim that Jesus might be a “Rabbi,” but He isn’t the Lord God is to ignore Jesus’ central proclamation about Himself.  If you’re going to deny Jesus, you might as well be honest about it & stop fooling yourself.
    • Better yet, stop fooling yourself entirely & see Jesus for who He really is!  He IS God.  He IS the Savior – and He offers to save you & Richard Dawkins & all those who have denied Him in the past.  It’s not yet too late for you to experience Jesus’ love and grace as the Lord God.

50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

  • Amazing contrast!  Judas kissed Jesus in an act of hatred, lied through his teeth as he called Jesus “Rabbi,” all the while giving Jesus an apparently cheerful greeting while he is betraying Jesus the whole time.  Jesus responds with a simple “Friend” & a rhetorical question.  Judas betrays Jesus with an outward display of fake love, and Jesus still reaches out to Judas in sincerity.  No matter what Judas was doing to Jesus, Jesus was still calling him “friend.”  It’s interesting that the word Jesus uses for “friend” is not the normal word, used of someone who is truly beloved.  Instead, it was a word that meant “companion / associate,” something that would be used of someone who was known, but not necessarily in a close relationship.  Quite the contrast to the ostentatious kiss of Judas!  Jesus was not cold towards Judas, but He wasn’t deceptive either.  He was civil to the man who was condemning Him to death, demonstrating exactly what it means to turn the other cheek to a person who has struck us.
  • Jesus’ question isn’t necessarily a question.  Technically, His words to Judas could be translated as the ESV does (and many other English translations), “Friend, do what you have come to do.”  Greek scholars debate this somewhat.  The grammar does not lend itself to it being a question, but there is some evidence that the words used were an idiom used as a question.  Almost all of the earliest translations of the NT (Latin, Syrian, etc.) assume this was a question – so there is a bit of grounding for the debate.  All of this leaves us with a question of our own.  J  If it was a question, why did Jesus ask?  After all, He obviously knew why Judas was there.  Jesus was the one who told him earlier that night to go do what he needed to do quickly (Jn 13:27).  Any time God asks a question in the Scripture, it’s always worth paying attention to.  After all, God does not ask a question because He requires information.  He is the Omniscient God – He already knows all things.  When God asked Adam “Where are you?” in the Garden of Eden, it was not because God needed help finding lost little Adam – it was because God wanted Adam to think through his sin & admit what he had done.  Likewise here.  Jesus wasn’t legitimately curious as to why Judas would have suddenly shown up with a mob & a kiss – Jesus knew that Judas was betraying Him.  But Jesus wanted Judas to consider his actions.  He wanted Judas to know that Jesus knew exactly why he was there.  He wanted Judas to think through the evil of his actions one last time, while there was still one last fleeting opportunity to repent of his deeds.
    • Praise God for His ever-abundant mercy!  He never stops reaching out to us in His love & grace!  There may come a time in a person’s life when they have hardened their own heart to a point of no-return and God gives them over to their sin.  (Pharaoh, for example…)  But we don’t know when that time will come.  If there is even a glimpse of the conviction of God the Holy Spirit upon your life, you still have the opportunity to repent of your sins and be forgiven by Christ Jesus!  If today you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart.  Cry out to Jesus & receive Him as Lord today.
  • Of course, Judas did not repent & the mob ended up seizing Jesus.  This is when things started to get a bit crazy. …
  • The Brawl

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.

  • Out of the four gospel writers, only John identifies the sword-swinger as Peter (and only Luke depicts the subsequent healing).  This is such an integral part of the story of Jesus’ arrest, it’s curious why none of the Synoptics identify Peter at all.  Obviously they weren’t trying to refrain from showing Peter in a bad light (his three-fold denial of Jesus will do that in spades!).  Some have suggested that Matthew, Mark, and Luke wanted to avoid causing any legal trouble for Peter, whereas by the time John wrote his account, Peter had died & the issue was moot.  However, if Peter was to have been arrested, it would have been at the time.  It would seem that for the Synoptic writers, the focus wasn’t so much on Peter, but upon ALL of the disciples.  “One of those who were with Jesus…”  All of the disciples were caught off-guard, and all of them seemed to panic.  It just so happened that one of them had a sword, and in the commotion, decided to use it.  There were actually two swords among the disciples (Lk 22:38), but obviously they were severely out-numbered no matter how they looked at things.  It was only the 11 disciples against a great multitude of people with swords and clubs.  Fighting wasn’t exactly the best of options right now, but in the confusion the disciples weren’t thinking.  They were just reacting.
    • Thoughtless reactions can get us into a lot of trouble!
  • Not only did the disciples panic; they weren’t even effective.  If Peter was going to swing a sword, he might as well have done something good with it.  Instead of engaging in hand-to-hand combat with one of the temple guard captains, Peter goes after one of the slaves (perhaps Malchus was one of the people actually apprehending Jesus).  Even then, Peter doesn’t inflict any kind of mortal wound – he just cuts off the slave’s ear.  It seems that Peter was attempting to cut Malchus’ head in two, but he was so unskilled with a sword that he couldn’t even make a dent in the man’s skull past his ear.  Obviously that was bad enough & perfectly painful (and thankfully, Jesus in His grace healed Malchus), but it wasn’t near good enough to fend off a massive attack as they were now facing.
    • This is the major difference between doing something in the power of our flesh rather than in the power of God.  In God’s infinite power, He can use something small to make a huge difference.  When led by the Lord, Gideon took 300 men to defeat the massive Midianite army (Judges 7).  When led by the Lord, Jonathan and his armor bearer alone killed 20 Philistine soldiers (1 Sam 14). When led by the Lord, Joshua and the Israelites didn’t even lift a sword to defeat Jericho – they just needed to blow the trumpets of God (Joshua 6).  If Peter and the other disciples had been led by the Lord & empowered by the Holy Spirit, they could have used that one sword to defeat the entire mob that came at them.  But that’s the point.  They weren’t led nor empowered by the Lord to do so.  God had not instructed them to fight the mob.  Jesus had actually been very clear to the opposite, saying that He would be arrested & delivered into the hands of the chief priests.  IOW, the disciples knew what God’s will was, and they acted the opposite of it.  As a result, they met a humiliating defeat.
    • The same thing can happen to us.  We might see it in terms of our temptations or other spiritual battles.  We’ll go into things without thinking – without preparing through prayer, and fighting in our own strength…and then we go down in failure.  How many times have we faced the same temptation (whatever weakness it is that always besets us), and thought “It’s no big deal – I’ll face it down this time,” and then find ourselves fallen?  We didn’t spend any time in prayer – we didn’t seek the power of the Holy Spirit – we didn’t obey the clear teaching of the Bible to walk away…we didn’t do any of that.  We just walked straight into things in our own strength & face the inevitable result.  What we don’t understand is this: WE don’t have any strength.  Any strength we has comes from the Lord!  Any power we have to live for Jesus comes from the Holy Spirit.  The only way we can do anything worthwhile for the glory of God is when we do it in the power of God.  We’ve got to recognize our own dependency upon the Lord & continually surrender ourselves to Him!

52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

  • Jesus rightly chastises the disciples for their attack.  This was not His will for them, and they needed to stop resisting the will of God.  He had told them what was going to happen – pulling out swords at this point would only make things more difficult. 
  • The reason Jesus gave?  Their violence would only beget more violence: “for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”  Interestingly enough, the English proverb that is derived from Jesus’ words actually do not quote Him accurately.  We say today, “live by the sword; die by the sword.”  That’s not what the Bible says.  Jesus specifically said “all who take the sword.”  Someone can take the sword without living by the sword.  When we say “live by the sword; die by the sword,” we’re implying a lifestyle of violence.  Those who live their lives hanging out with gangs and other violent people certainly invite violence into their own lives.  But Jesus’ statement isn’t just for “those” people.  His statement is far broader than that.  After all, someone doesn’t need to live by the sword to take it up one time.  Yet that’s what Peter did.  It’s not as if Peter had a lifestyle characterized by violence.  Peter resorted to violence this one time in the Biblical record, and that’s when he (and the other disciples) received this word from Jesus.  It only takes one time in a resort to violence to be killed violently – and that was the danger for Peter.
  • There’s a bigger issue in play here.  Where was the disciple’s trust?  Was it is in their ability to wage war (which was grossly ineffective!) – or was it in the will of God?  When Peter took up his sword, it was demonstration that he was far more trusting of his own will than then the will of God.  Jesus had told Peter He would be arrested and killed, and Peter thought he knew better than the Lord.  Jesus told Peter that Peter would deny Him, and Peter thought he could go down swinging.  Obviously Peter didn’t like what Jesus had told him, but it didn’t make it less true.  When the Son of God spoke, it wasn’t a “suggestion” for Peter; it was the word of God.  Peter needed to trust Jesus rather than himself.
    • What is it in which you put more stock: your will or God’s word?
  • There’s also a bit of irony. Judas was in sin, but still being used by God to fulfill the will of the Father – whereas Peter and the other disciples were still (somewhat) loyal to Jesus, and they were resisting the will of God.  BOTH were sinning, though in vastly different ways.

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?”

  • This is where the absurdity of the disciples’ panic becomes apparent.  They were disciples of Jesus, whom they recognized as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. (16:16)  God is perfectly capable of defending Himself!  This is the same God who created the universe by an act of His will.  He speaks the word, and things come into existence.  Every atom in all of creation is held together because God so wills it to be so.  This is the same God that not only wrote the laws of physics, but can suspend them anytime He so desires in miraculous power.  This is the OMNIPOTENT God. 
    • God doesn’t need our help.  God DOES want to use us in His plan for His glory, but God doesn’t need us.  There’s a big difference between the two things, and it’s something we need to remember.
  • If God so willed, He could have provided 12 legions of angels.  How many is in a legion?  Estimates vary, but many Roman legions were comprised of 6000 soldiers.  Jesus basically told the disciples here that if Jesus wanted, the Father would provide 72000 angels in a heartbeat.  Considering one angel was enough to slaughter 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in a single night (2 Kings 19:35, Isa 37:36), imagine what 72K angels could do!  Obviously the exact number isn’t the point.  The point is that God could easily respond with overwhelming force if He so desired.  Jesus could just say the word & the mob would be obliterated with the fire of God, or just disintegrate into nothingness.  When Jesus was being arrested, it wasn’t a show of the deficiency of His power; it was a demonstration of how He restrained it.
  • How do we know that the disciples were resisting the will of God?  Because the things happening to Jesus were prophesied.  The Scriptures needed to be fulfilled, and it needed to happen in exactly this way.  David had prophesied how the Messiah would be betrayed by a friend, someone trusted who lifted up his heel against Him (Ps 41:9).  Zechariah had prophesied the amount of money the Messiah would be betrayed for (Zech 11:12).  Isaiah had prophesied that Messiah would be despised & rejected (Isa 53:3).  All of these things HAD to happen.  If they did not, the prophecies would be false, and God would be found a liar.  But God is not a liar, and His word is always true.  God will see His word be true, even when it comes to His own hurt – as it did with Jesus.  God had made it clear what would happen to His Son, and Jesus had made all of this clear to His disciples.  For them to rise up in war against the Jews at this point would defeat the whole purpose in sending Jesus to the cross as an innocent Man.  The disciples were unintentionally but directly acting against the revealed will of God.
  • The Abandonment

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.” …

  • After chastising the disciples, Jesus turns His attention to the crowd & chastises them.  The mob they had brought was pointless.  The amount of weapons and armament was totally unreasonable.  They had come to take Jesus with violence, though there was no need.  Jesus had been among the crowds often, and not once had He demonstrated a tendency towards violence.
  • Not only was it unreasonable, it was illogical.  After all, Jesus had amply demonstrated that He is the Son of God with all power.  He is the Messiah King, shown by authority is teaching and supernatural miracles.  What good would clubs & swords do against Almighty God?  Did they actually believe they would be able to overpower the same Person who calmed the storms and raised the dead?
  • The point?  Jesus was in control the entire time over the entire event.  The crowds could not arrest Jesus before the appointed time, nor would they do it in a way that was not allowed them by the prophesied Scriptures and Almighty God.  God’s perfect timing and will would be absolutely fulfilled, and the crowd even in all their sin, was acting according to what God had already said would happen.  The OT had made it clear how the Messiah would be betrayed, rejected by His own people, and killed – that much has already been shown.  Yet we might ask why the Jews could not have done this at any point in time?  Why couldn’t Jesus have been taken early on in His ministry, or even during His childhood?  Jesus gives us the answer: “But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”  All of the OT Scriptures concerning the life and the ministry of the Messiah needed to be fulfilled.  He had to be born in the way the Scriptures foretold (of a virgin as the Son of God, in the city of Bethlehem in the line of David).  He had to have His ministry preceded and announced by a herald in the ministry of Elijah (John the Baptist).  He had to fulfill the ministry spoken of Him to preach the gospel, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to captives, and more (Isa 61).  He had to be fulfill the ministry of the prophet like Moses, speaking the words of God (Deut 18:18).  None of this could be done if Jesus had been killed in childhood.  He needed to live & do ministry according to God’s will to fulfill God’s timing.  Prophecy did not merely guide Jesus’ birth & death – it guided His entire life!  ALL the Scriptures regarding Jesus’ 1st coming needed to be fulfilled, and they were.  Even the timing of Jesus’ arrest and death was proclaimed in the OT prophets.  Daniel 9:25–26, "(25) “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times. (26) “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined." [] One “week” = one 7-year period, judged by the Hebrew (lunar) calendar of approximately 360 days.  From the time of the historical command to go rebuild the wall of Jerusalem (exactly what Daniel proclaims, and exactly what Nehemiah testifies of) to the Passion week of Jesus on that particular Passover was precisely the 62 “weeks” of Daniel’s prophecy.  Jesus could not have been arrested any earlier than what He was.  If He had been rejected and killed during the first year of His ministry, the prophecy of God would have been unfulfilled.  There were several times early in His ministry that the Jews tried to take Jesus and stone Him, yet they were unable to lay a hand upon Him (Jn 8:59, 10:31).  Why?  God did not allow it.  The timing was not right.  Jesus would not & could not be taken before the time.  The plan of God needed to be fulfilled, and God was always in command.
  • He was always in command!  Not one time in all of Jesus’ arrest and suffering was He not in control of the situation.  Think about that for a moment.  At any point in Jesus’ flogging with a cat-of-9-tails, He could have stopped it.  At any time during His rejection by the people, Jesus could have walked away.  During the hours He hung upon the cross, Jesus could have stepped down at any moment.  He stayed through all these things and suffered all these things by an act of His own will.
    • This is His love for us…  This is Jesus’ submission to the will of His Father…  This is the glory of God!

…Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

  • The arrest wasn’t the only thing that happened according to prophecy.  The abandonment by His disciples was as well.  Jesus had told them just hours earlier that that would be scattered (in accordance with Zech 13:7), and despite their protests, that is exactly what happened.
  • We cannot fight against the will of God.  What we CAN do is submit ourselves to it, and ask for God’s strength in the midst of it.
  • Even here, Jesus is in control.  He said the disciples would flee, and that is exactly what happened.

To those who had come with the mob, surely this looked to be chaos.  The One who had been received earlier that week as the Son of Man had been betrayed by one of His own disciples – another of His disciples had swung a sword in wild panic – Jesus was now arrested by a mob bearing swords and clubs.  What started off as a peaceful night had turned into anything but.

Despite the appearances, this was NOT chaos.  Judas had not interrupted the plan of God; he was fulfilling it, even in his sin.  Peter could not interrupt the plan of God, in spite of his best efforts, nor would Jesus allow it.  When the mob arrested Jesus, it wasn’t because Jesus was an unwilling participant – He sovereignly allowed it, restraining His own omnipotent power to see the prophecies fulfilled.  Jesus’ arrest was well within His infinite control.  This was part of God’s plan to send Jesus to the cross, that the innocent Son of God would become the sin of the world, and be a perfect sacrifice on our behalf.

Jesus had to die in this way.  The Messiah had to be rejected by the Jews in fulfillment of the Scriptures, and for the salvation of mankind.  It came about in the way planned by God, and it came about in the timing proclaimed by God.  Everything was perfect, even as it looked as if it was not.  God never let things get out of His sovereign hand.

Take it to a practical level for a moment.  If Jesus was in control then, surely we can trust Jesus to be in control now.  If Jesus could handle the vile events leading to His crucifixion, what is there in our lives today that He cannot handle?  Christian, how desperately we need to trust our Lord & Savior!  How crucial it is that we continually rely on His power through the Holy Spirit, and His command revealed through His word!  When we distrust His will, we start to act according to our own desires, relying upon our own strength, and we inevitably fail.  And all of that is completely unnecessary!  We serve the Living Lord Jesus, and we can actively trust our God to guide us through all things.  We simply need to submit ourselves to His will.

Of course beyond all of that, we can thank God that His sovereign will was accomplished in Jesus’ arrest.  If Jesus had not been betrayed, He would not have been arrested.  If Jesus had not been arrested, He would not have gone to the cross. If Jesus had not gone to the cross, He would not have died for our sins.  God would have shown Himself to be a liar, and we would still be in our sins – and thus without hope.  But all these things DID happen according to God’s perfect will, and now we are saved!  Praise the Lord!


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