Summary: The enemies of the cross at Jesus' arrest show us strong lessons about the Kingdom of Christ.
When we hear the word, “arrested”, we think of criminals. Criminals are an unusual sort, as far as I can tell.
I hear tell of a set of criminal brothers who did all sorts of crime. As a matter of fact, if a crime occurred in this small community, one, if not both, of these boys had something to do with it. With a good lawyer, they seemed to get away with everything.
One day, one of them was killed in the commission of a robbery. The other was working with the funeral home on arrangements. He told the funeral director to find a preacher, with one stipulation. The preacher must call his brother a saint. The living brother would pay up to $15,000 to the preacher who would agree to that.
But preachers turned it down flat, except one old, retired preacher.
The living brother questioned him. “You must call my brother a saint somewhere in your eulogy. If you do, I will pay you the $15,000.”
The old preacher assured him that this would be no problem and accepted the funeral.
During the funeral, he said, “This man in this coffin was a liar, cheat, thief, gangster, full of evil and totally wicked. But he was a saint compared to his living brother.”
When we see someone arrested, we typically think the worst. But when Jesus was arrested, the worst was around him. Let me show you:
Mar 14:41-52 And he came the third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand." 43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard."
45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, "Rabbi!" And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled." 50 And they all left him and fled. 51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
The disciples had a very wonderful worship service, but it included the prophecy of betrayal. Then there was a time of prayer which was too much for the disciples to stay awake. That was followed by a late night arrest by Temple guards and Roman soldiers. There was much happening around Jerusalem that night. Some we understand, some we wonder about.
I started with verse 41 to give us context of when this was occurring. Thus, we know this drama was taking place in the Garden of Gethsemene, on the Mount of Olives, after the Lord’s Last Supper Passover celebration.
The disciples had gone to the garden to pray. Jesus had agonized in prayer, but the disciples continued to lose their battle with sleep.
Jesus had prayed, “Lord, you can do anything you want, for all things are possible for you. If there is any other way, let this next series of event not happen. Nevertheless, Father, what you desire is what I will do.”
The third time Jesus returned from praying this prayer, he woke His disciples and warned them, “Now is the time I get arrested. You can hear the mob coming.”
Suddenly, there appeared from the brush and trees Judas, leading Temple guards and Roman soldiers. According to law, the temple guards were leading in this “cultural” arrest, carrying clubs and sticks. The Roman soldiers followed up to control any uprising that might occur during the arrest. They were armed with hand swords for up-close combat and crowd control. Although it was a moonlit night, the olive trees of the garden cast shadows that could make arrest of the right person difficult, so some of the soldiers carried burning torches.
As they approached, the soldiers quieted down and probably fanned out. Judas continued to approach Jesus, addressed Him respectfully and kissed him on the cheek. He had told the guards to watch his behavior because he would identify the rebel with a kiss. Thus he did. And the guards moved in to seize Jesus.