Summary: The betrayal and arrest of Jesus in Luke 22:47-53 teaches us that Jesus was in control of God's plan of redemption.
Jesus’ last night on earth was spent eating a meal with his twelve apostles. He earnestly desired to eat this meal with them, because he knew that he was about to suffer and die the next day (Luke 22:15).
However, the Last Supper was very disappointing to Jesus. Instead of a significant time with his disciples, the evening quickly degenerated into Judas’ deception, the disciples’ dissension, Peter’s denial, and the disciples’ dullness about what was about to happen. Eventually, perhaps around midnight, Jesus and the eleven apostles went to the Mount of Olives where they planned to spend the night. When they arrived, Jesus went further and spent time in prayer before Judas came and betrayed him to the religious authorities.
Let’s read about the betrayal and arrest of Jesus in Luke 22:47-53:
47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:47-53)
All of us like a certain measure of control in our lives. We make plans for the long-term, mid-term, and short-term. But sometimes even our best-laid plans go awry. An illness occurs, an accident happens, or even just the weather changes our plans. One of the things we learn in life is that we are not ultimately in control of our lives.
In our study of Jesus’ life and ministry we have noticed that Jesus was always in control of every event in his life. Nothing happened that was beyond his control. And yet, all that seemed to change on the night of his betrayal and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.
H. G. Wells once said that the world is like a great stage production, directed and managed by God. As the curtain rises, the set is perfect, a treat to every eye. The characters are resplendent. Everything goes well until the leading man steps on the hem of the leading lady’s gown, causing her to trip over a chair, which knocks over a lamp, which pushes a table into the wall, which in turn knocks over the scenery, which brings everything down on the heads of the actors. Meanwhile, behind the scenes God, the Producer, is running around, shouting orders, pulling strings, trying desperately to restore order from chaos. But, alas, he is unable to do so! Poor God! As Wells explains, he is a very little, limited God.
God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to seek and to save the lost. His ministry got off to a great start. Throngs of crowds loved his preaching ministry. Thousands benefited from his miracles. People were so taken with Jesus that they wanted to crown him as their king. But Jesus refused to be sidetracked. Instead, he kept proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, calling people to repent of their sin and to believe that he was the only Savior of sinners.
But over time opposition arose against Jesus and his ministry. After Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday the chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him (Luke 19:47). By the time Jesus got to the Garden of Gethsemane on Thursday night he was in such agony that his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 20:44). Things then seemed to get out of control, especially when Judas arrived with a crowd to betray Jesus and have him arrested.
Albert Schweitzer was a brilliant physician, gifted musician, and liberal theologian who lived just over a century ago. He believed that Jesus lost control at the end of his life, and that things did not turn out as Jesus had planned. Schweitzer wrote a book titled, The Quest for the Historical Jesus, in which he penned these famous words:
There is silence all around. The Baptist appears, and cries: “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Soon after that comes Jesus, and in the knowledge that He is the coming Son of Man He lays hold of the wheel of the world to set it moving on that last revolution which is to bring all ordinary history to a close. It refuses to turn, and He throws Himself upon it. Then it does turn; and crushes Him. . . . The wheel rolls onward, and the mangled body of the one immeasurably great Man, who was strong enough to think of Himself as the spiritual ruler of mankind and to bend history to His purpose, is hanging upon it still. That is His victory and his reign.