Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” Then everyone deserted him and fled.
Immediately as Jesus says to his disciples, “let’s go, my betrayer is coming”, his betrayer arrives. See how quickly Jesus submits to his Father’s will! And notice who has arrived to arrest him. In the lead is Judas, “one of the Twelve”, one of Jesus’ chosen and closest followers. With him is a crowd armed with swords and clubs. Was it not just a few short days earlier that a crowd greeted Jesus, armed with palm branches and praises? And look who is behind this gathering: The Sanhedrin, who have been so busy plotting to get rid of Jesus that they themselves may not have eaten the Passover meal yet. (see John 18:28).
One disciple betrays Jesus; another disciple blindly strikes out in a foolish attempt at resistance; eventually all the disciples flee. The men who have come to seize Jesus initially fall back when he identifies himself (John 18:4-6). And Jesus witheringly addresses the Sanhedrin representatives present (Luke 22:52-53), asking why they didn’t arrest him in the open if they had a case against him. The only person in this dramatic scene who stands out is Jesus. Even in the moment of his arrest, Jesus is in full control of the situation; he is still exercising his authority. As he had previously told the Jews, no one takes his life from him; he willingly lays it down (John 10:18).
The one who has committed no sin, who is guilty of no crime, willingly submits to the criminal intentions of the Jewish leaders. Do you see how the suffering and humiliation of Jesus began before he ever reached the cross? Truly “he was despised and rejected by mankind” “and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:3,6). Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended,
that man to judge thee hath in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected,
O most afflicted! (Johann Heermann)