Summary: Last weekend we focused on the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and learned that it was a place of support, sorrow, solitude, struggle, submission, and finally, strength. Today we have front-row seats to the arrest and most infamous trial in history.
Play a clip from Billy Graham’s last message to America…and the world.
God loves you and is willing to forgive you for all your sins! This clip is from Billy Graham’s last message to America, delivered when he was 95 years old. Billy Graham preached the gospel live to nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories! How many of you heard him at a stadium, on radio or TV or on the Internet? Anyone come to faith in Christ through his ministry? Beth’s older sister Jill was saved at the Chicago Crusade in 1971.
Billy Graham had an unwavering commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ and an unflinching confidence in the Bible as the inerrant and authoritative Word of God. One of Billy’s trademark phrases was, “The Bible says…”
Last weekend we focused on the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane and learned that it was a place of support, sorrow, solitude, struggle, submission, and finally, strength. Today we have front-row seats to the arrest and most infamous trial in history.
We’re going to cover nearly 30 verses from Mark 14 so let’s get to what the Bible says.
Here’s a simple outline.
• A Bitter Betrayal (Mark 14:43-52)
• A Terrible Trial (Mark 14:53-65)
• A Deliberate Denial (Mark 14:66-72)
1. A Bitter Betrayal. The Bible says in verses 43-52: “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.”
As Jesus concludes His prayer and teaching time with the disciples, Judas brings “a crowd with swords and clubs.” This is the word “cohort,” also translated as a “band of soldiers” in John 18:12. At full strength a cohort contained 600 Romans soldiers who were armed with “swords,” or “slaughter-knifes.” There were also temple police present who carried “clubs.”
Like most undercover operations, a signal or “sign” was used to let them know whom to arrest. Judas the betrayer set it up in verse 44: “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” Judas then wasted no time as he “went up to him at once and said, ‘Rabbi!’ And he kissed him.” It’s noteworthy that Judas never called Jesus “Lord” in the gospels. He then embraced Jesus by repeatedly and fervently kissing him on the cheek. This was the ultimate act of betrayal since a kiss was an expressive act of close friendship. Proverbs 27:6 says, “The kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
Something else happens at this point that John records. It’s quite remarkable. The Bible says in John 18:4-5: “Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, ‘Whom do you see seek?’ They answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am he.’” At which point, they “drew back and fell to the ground.” In the presence of glory, they hit the ground! When Christ comes forward they fall backward. When He declares, “I am,” He is equating Himself with Yahweh and they have no choice but to fall back and fall down.
They must have known He was no ordinary man and yet according to Mark 14:46, “they laid hands on him and seized him.” While Jesus offers himself willingly, verse 47 tells us that one of those who stood by Jesus “drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.” Mark doesn’t give us his name but John tells us that it was Peter.
I think Peter and John had some friendly competition going on because John wants us to know in John 20:4 that he outran Peter to the empty tomb. We could say that Peter was courageous for drawing his sword but remember he went after an unarmed servant, not a soldier. Peter was better at fishing than wielding a weapon because he missed the guy’s head and only whacked off his ear! We read in Luke 22:51 that Jesus reattached the servant’s ear! It’s a good thing or else there would have been four crosses at Calvary.