Summary: In this sermon we examine the brief resistance that the disciples mounted in Jesus' defense on the night of his betrayal and arrest.
Two years I began what I planned to be a seven-year series of messages. It is based on the book by James Montgomery Boice and Philip Graham Ryken that is titled, Jesus on Trial. My goal is to teach on seven important aspects of the trial of Jesus Christ: the diabolical conspiracy to kill him (which I covered two years ago); his night-time arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane (which I covered last year); the short resistance that the disciples mounted in his defense (which I plan to cover this evening); the witnesses who accused him of blasphemy during his ecclesiastical trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin; the verdict reached in his civil trial by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate; the sentence of death that his enemies demanded; and his execution by crucifixion.
Let us read Matthew 26:47-56:
47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. (Matthew 26:47-56)
Have you ever witnessed someone resisting arrest? We often see it on the news. Sometimes people resisting arrest simply run away. However, on other occasions they fight back, and at times it can get very violent.
If you had been privy to what was going on behind the scenes regarding the trial of Jesus, you would have been aware that it all began with a conspiracy. The religious leaders and the political leaders had conspired together to get rid of Jesus. But they were having great difficulty doing so because of Jesus’ immense popularity with the people. However, a stunning development took place when one of Jesus’ own inner circle of friends stepped forward to betray him to the authorities. Judas Iscariot volunteered to betray Jesus for some unknown reason.
Then, on the evening of 14 Nissan, 30 AD Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. A large band of soldiers had managed to arrest Jesus without too much trouble. The brief resistance from Jesus’ disciples did not amount to much.
Tonight, I would like to examine the brief resistance accompanying the betrayal and arrest Jesus.
I. Jesus’ Gracious Dealing with His Disciples (26:47-50a)
First, let’s notice Jesus’ gracious dealing with his disciples.
Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had gone there after he instituted the Lord’s Supper during the Passover meal in Jerusalem (Matthew 26:17-30). Jesus left the disciples in the Garden to go and pray by himself. Three times he returned to the disciples to find them sleeping (26:31-46).
It was at that point that Judas came to the Garden of Gethsemane. He brought with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people (26:47). Judas had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him (26:48-49).
Now, kissing on the cheek was and still is the custom in many countries when greeting a friend. When Judas kissed Jesus he was only doing what all the disciples were accustomed to doing when they met Jesus after an absence.
But I want you to notice how graciously Jesus dealt with Judas. He knew that Judas was betraying him. And yet Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do” (26:50a). Even at the moment of his betrayal, Jesus still called Judas “friend.”