JUDAS BETRAYS JESUS IN THE GARDEN
PETER CUTS OFF A MAN’S EAR
JESUS IS ARRESTED
It is well past midnight. The priests have agreed to pay Judas 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. So Judas leads a large crowd of chief priests and Pharisees, seeking to find Jesus. They are accompanied by a detachment of armed Roman soldiers with a military commander.
Evidently, when Jesus dismissed him from the Passover meal, Judas went directly to the chief priests. (John 13:27) They assembled their own officers as well as a band of soldiers. Judas may have led them first to the room where Jesus and his apostles had celebrated the Passover. But now the mob has crossed the Kidron Valley and is headed for the garden. In addition to weapons, they are carrying lamps and torches, determined to find Jesus.
As Judas leads the procession up the Mount of Olives, he feels sure that he knows where to find Jesus. During the past week, as Jesus and the apostles traveled back and forth between Bethany and Jerusalem, they often stopped in the garden of Gethsemane. But now it is night, and Jesus may be in the shadows of the olive trees in the garden. So how will the soldiers, who may not have seen Jesus before, be able to identify him? To help them, Judas will provide a sign. He says: “Whoever it is I kiss, he is the one; take him into custody, and lead him away under guard.”—Mark 14:44.
Leading the crowd into the garden, Judas sees Jesus with his apostles and goes straight up to him. “Greetings, Rabbi!” Judas says, and he kisses Jesus very tenderly. “Fellow, for what purpose are you present?” Jesus responds. (Matthew 26:49, 50) Answering his own question, Jesus says: “Judas, are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48) But that is enough of his betrayer!
Jesus now steps into the light of the torches and lamps and asks: “Whom are you looking for?” From the mob comes the answer: “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus courageously says: “I am he.” (John 18:4, 5) Not knowing what to expect, the men fall to the ground.
Rather than seizing that moment to flee into the night, Jesus again asks whom they are seeking. When they again say, “Jesus the Nazarene,” he calmly continues: “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” Even at this crucial moment, Jesus recalls what he said earlier, that he would not lose a single one. (John 6:39; 17:12) Jesus has kept his faithful apostles and not one has been lost “except the son of destruction”—Judas. (John 18:7-9) Thus he now asks that his loyal followers be let go.
As the soldiers stand and move toward Jesus, the apostles realize what is happening. “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” they ask. (Luke 22:49) Before Jesus can reply, Peter wields one of the two swords that the apostles have at hand. He attacks Malchus, a slave of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
Jesus touches the ear of Malchus, healing the wound. He then teaches an important lesson, commanding Peter: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword.” Jesus is willing to be arrested, for he explains: “How would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must take place this way?” (Matthew 26:52, 54) He adds: “Should I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11) Jesus agrees with God’s will for him, even to the point of dying.
Jesus asks the crowd: “Did you come out to arrest me with swords and clubs as against a robber? Day after day I used to sit in the temple teaching, and yet you did not take me into custody. But all of this has taken place for the writings of the prophets to be fulfilled.”—Matthew 26:55, 56.
The soldier band, the military commander, and the officers of the Jews seize Jesus and bind him. Seeing this, the apostles flee. However, “a certain young man”—perhaps the disciple Mark—remains among the crowd so as to follow Jesus. (Mark 14:51) This young man is recognized, and the crowd attempts to seize him, which forces him to leave behind his linen garment as he gets away.
What new observance did Jesus institute before he was betrayed and nailed to the stake?