Summary: After Jesus' High Priestly prayer, Jesus meets His Betrayer and His accusers in the Garden of Gethsemane and is arrested. There are similarities and contrasts in the Garden with an event in history concerning King David.
“The Arrest of Jesus the Nazarene” John 18:1-12
“When Jesus had spoken these words, (all of the words of encouragement and teaching from John 13-17) He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. 4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?"
Familiar and Unfamiliar territory
Jesus has been spending quality time with His Disciples since their last supper and now as they have been walking along after the exodus of Judas from their company, and after they hear Jesus’ intercessory prayer, they cross over the Brook Kidron into the garden of Gethsemane, which is located at the base of the Mount of Olives, on a slope directly across the Kidron Valley on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Gethsemane is a garden of less than a third of an acre, located close to the route from the Temple to the summit and crest that led to the town of Bethany. This was a very familiar place to Jesus and His disciples, including Judas,
This Garden location was familiar territory for Jesus as well as for Judas, probably used often by Jesus as a place to rest as He traveled between Jerusalem and Bethany, and also a place to commune with His Father. A “Garden” is often a picture of life: the story of mankind began in a Garden. There was safety and security and quality God-time in the Garden of Eden. There was also humanity’s horrendous end to life in that Garden; and in THIS Garden, the familiar and peaceful place comes to an unpleasant end: Judas betrays his Master and Jesus is arrested, so that Jesus can restore what was lost in the first garden.
The Brook evidently had water only in the rainy seasons of the winter months. It is mentioned 10 times in the Old Testament and according to history the water and blood from the temple’s drainage system when thousands of sacrifices were made flowed into this brook, and now Jesus crosses this brook so that His blood could be shed as the “once for all” sacrifice on the Cross.
Before the days of the temple, King David had ascended the Mount of Olives in order to flee Absalom's coup, 2 Samuel 15:23 records this verse: “And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people crossed over. The king himself also crossed over the Brook Kidron, and all the people crossed over toward the way of the wilderness.” In this Garden by the Brook are kingly contrasts between David and Jesus. King Jesus is now crossing over into the OTHER direction to enter Jerusalem to be tried and falsely condemned… and He is accompanied only by His Disciples. King David was fleeing from his rebellious son, and Jesus is obeying the perfect will of His Heavenly Father. King David is fleeing for safety, and King Jesus, the promised Son from David’s line, is walking into the hands of His rebellious disciple, Judas.
Judas was well-prepared to betray Jesus over to His executioners; it was far from accidental that he leads “a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees,” no doubt hundreds of armed officials, equipped “with lanterns, torches, and weapons.” To the disciples the appearance of Judas with hundreds of men was no doubt terrifying. Shocking events are life changing moments when you cross from the “familiar” to the very “unfamiliar. With the arrest of Jesus, things would never be the same.
Verse 4 is shocking to us, isn’t it? “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?" Jesus did not shirk from the things that He already knew would happen to Him, in fact, John is telling us that Jesus is omniscient, knowing ALL things. This was Jesus’ greatest hour in which He would bring glory to the Father. The greatest humiliation, His death on the cross would be His greatest exaltation; It is the task for which He had come to earth. His task was unfamiliar to mankind and HE had never gone there before, but even knowing what was to come, Jesus stepped bravely into the unfamiliar because He knew this was Divine Purpose. He knew who the militia were looking for so the question He asks, “Whom are you seeking,” is basically another way of saying: “Do what you have come to do!”