Summary: The power of the cross is God’s power is focused like a laser here to save us sinners. You really cannot truly understand the cross until you understand how Jesus got there and what took place on the day He was crucified.
We are going to spend three weeks focusing on the cross of Jesus Christ – to prepare our hearts for His resurrection. We are marching with Christ down the Via Dolorosa, or the way of suffering. We are entering the very heart of Christianity. It is Thursday, less than twelve hours from Jesus’ crucifixion. From the point of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, He experiences a night full of trials. What is the power of the Cross to you and I? “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Lyrics to How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
The power of the cross is God’s power is focused like a laser here to save us sinners. Traditionally, Jesus’ trials have been broken down between the religious phase of His trials and the civil phase. You really cannot truly understand the cross until you understand how Jesus got there and what took place on the day He was crucified.
1. Jesus is Arrested
Jesus hears the clanging of swords while He is still in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was just finishing an hour of prayer when Judas approaches. It’s around 10 or 11 p.m. when on the horizon Jesus sees a procession of orange flaming torches streaming toward Him.
There are three steps to Jesus’ arrest.
1.1 Step One - Judas Leads the Crowd
All three of these steps are “bang, bang” moments. Your head is on a swivel as the events are coming at you incredibly fast.
1.1.1 The Crowd
Inside the crowd were the chief priests (who you will meet in a moment), the temple officers, and the elders (Luke 22:52). John’s gospel also tells us that in the crowd were Romans soldiers (John 18:3, 12). So here the religious, military, and civil leaders all lined up in unity against Jesus.
The religious authorities needed an insider. “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” (Luke 22:47). Judas appears with an army of men breaking the silence and privacy of the night.
18.104.22.168 Judas Muted Potential Mob Violence
Judas provided a quiet way to take Jesus (John 18:2). Even though Jesus was lecturing daily in the Temple, they wanted to secure His arrest in a quiet way for fear of mob violence. How could they be sure they had the right guy when it was dark? Long before the day when there were wire-service photos and face-recognition software to pick up a criminal’s face off of security camera. Back on Wednesday, just 24 hours before Jesus’ betrayal, we witness the Sanhedrin and Judas collusion: “He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd” (Luke 22:5-6). Again, they needed an insider.
22.214.171.124 Judas Kisses Jesus
“And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him” (Mark 14:45). A kiss would have been a common way of greeting others in Jesus’ day. And while a kiss communicates warmth and affection, this is the kiss of death. But this was a kiss from hell itself. Judas’ kiss was in all likelihood a longer kiss than normal in order to give the authorities a opportunity who was to be arrested. This was an act of black treason. “…but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss’” (Luke 22:48)? Here’s one more plea from the Son of God, “Are you so dead and beyond feeling that you would use a kiss to betray me?”
1.2 Step Two - The Disciples Fight Back
“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” (Luke 22:49-51). Immediately the disciples ask Jesus if they should fight the onslaught of the crowd that comes for Jesus: “Lord, shall we strike with the sword” (Luke 22:49)? Before Jesus can reply, Peter takes out a dagger and in an attempt to defend Jesus, he whacks off the right ear of a slave name Malchus (John 18:10). The following was omitted in the interest of time: Peter had poor aim but he had great determination at this point. No sooner than did Malchus’ ear hit the ground, Jesus says, “No more of this!” (Luke 22:51a). His words freeze everyone in place. And Jesus heals the ear of one of the very men sent to arrest Him. He is acting in compassion even toward His enemies. Think of this: in the last moments Jesus’ hands were free, He stretched out those hands to heal one who came to arrest him.