- The Hour Unfolds
There are many events and peripheral points occurring in the text before us as the hour for which Christ came unfolds. We see the treachery of Judas Iscariot, the cowardice of Christ’s enemies, the fear of His followers, and the steadfastness of Christ.
As we know, He experienced intense temptation to avoid this hour and prayed to His Father, by whom all things are possible, that if it were feasible to save His people and receive glory through some other means that the hour might pass Him by. Matthew records Him saying:
“Let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt…My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done.”
In end we see Him resolved and willing to do the will of God. He came to give His life a ransom for many. As He said during the Last Supper, “The Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him.” He told them prior to that, after they made the great confession that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, that He “must suffer many things.”
According to the Psalmist He was to be betrayed by a close friend He trusted and ate bread with. According to Isaiah He was going to be despised and forsaken by His people. He was to be pierced through for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. He was to be punished for our wellbeing. It would be just as God had said through the prophet Zechariah:
“They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
Is this not what Jesus said plainly, and repeatedly, to His disciples? Recall Mark 8:31, 9:9, 9:31, and Mark 10:33-34, which gives the most clarity:
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. 34 They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again.”
It was necessary that the Christ should suffer these things, and Moses and all the Prophets spoke of Him and salvation through faith in His suffering and resurrection. As to this salvation, Peter says that the prophets through whom God foretold His purpose in Christ and the grace that would come:
“Made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.”
Peter says that “angels long to look” into the good news of redemption in Christ by grace through faith in Him alone.
God’s plan of redemption was set forth in the everlasting among the Godhead before He laid the foundations of the earth. He revealed His eternal plan of salvation in a garden when He promised that One would come through the seed of the woman who would oppose Satan and crush His head, but would have His heel crushed in the process. God foreshadowed this plan by killing a lamb in the place of those who deserved to die.
The fulfillment of this plan is unfolding in a garden as Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, says to His disciples in Mark 14:41-42:
“The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
It is just as Jesus said in Matthew 5:18:
“Truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
- The Treachery of Judas
We see that “while He was still speaking” the events immediately begin with the treachery of Judas Iscariot, “One of the Twelve,” who delivers the Prince of Life to His enemies for thirty pieces of silver and betrays Him with a kiss.
The Scriptures describe Christ as one who had no impressive form that people would desire to look upon Him, “nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.” In other words, the Creator and King of heaven and earth clothed Himself as an ordinary Man. He was not so attractive that He stood out among others. He was difficult to distinguish from His disciples, so Judas, who knew the place where Jesus often met with His disciples, had established a signal by which the men he brought with him would know who to capture under the shroud of night:
“Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.”
This demonstrates the despicable depths of the depraved heart. The unregenerate mind always takes that which is beautiful and perverts it. Judas takes an act which is meant to show reverence, adoration, and honor to a person, and uses it to deliver the sinless Son of God into the hands of godless men.
As we recall Jesus was not surprised by Judas’ betrayal. He knows what is in the hearts of man. When He chose the twelve, He knew that one of them was an unbeliever, and referred to him as a devil. He informed the disciples that one of them would betray Him and said, “It is one of the twelve who dips with Me in the bowl.” John says:
“So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”
John 13:3 says:
“Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.”
In Matthew 26:50, Jesus calls him friend as he approaches and says, “Do what you have come for.” As Mark 14:45 says:
“After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him.”
Jesus says to him in Luke’s account:
“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
Luke uses a specific word for kiss which indicates it would have been a drawn-out performance on the part of Judas. As Jesus said of Judas prior to this, it would have been good for him if he had never been born, “woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.”
He is a testimony to the fact that salvation is ultimately not a matter of sight and intellect, and that appearances are deceitful. He saw His miracles, heard His teachings, was considered His follower, but his heart was far from Him. Judas possessed a heart of thorny soil. The seed of Christ was sown, but “the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things” entered in and choked it out. He epitomizes the truth that the love of money is the root of all evil. He is a demonstration of the fact that you cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money. You will love one and hate the other. He gained the world, but forfeited his soul in so doing. He neglected so great a salvation and betrayed the great I AM for thirty pieces of silver.
If we were to fast forward, we would see a great tragedy that his treachery resulted in. Matthew 27:1-10:
“3 Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” 5 And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself.”
This is not godly sorrow which Judas is experiencing, for godly sorrow draws a person to God. Judas succumbs to the sorrow of the world and takes his life by hanging himself. Act 1:8 gruesomely indicates that something went wrong as he did this, and that he fell headlong and “burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out.” As terrible as his earthly fate was, his eternal fate is far worse. It truly would have been better for him if he had never been born, for he hand God’s only Son over to His enemies.
- The Cowardice of Christ’s Enemies
In our text, we see Jesus’ adversaries coming out to secretly seize the Prince of Peace. There is not much to say about these worthless men. Since the beginning of Christ’s ministry, they had wanted to silence Him, because He being a man made Himself out to be God.
He demonstrated His divinity to them when He healed the paralytic who was lowered down through the roof by his friends. Jesus says to him, “Your sins are forgiven you.” The scribes sitting there reasoned within themselves that only God can forgive sins. Jesus knowing their thoughts said to them:
“Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? 10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic, 11 “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone.”
Yes, only God can forgive sin. What does that make Jesus Christ? God in the flesh.
They made one of the greatest, and most blasphemous errors that God speaks of through the Psalmist, an error all of us must strive to avoid. He says in Psalm 50:21: “You thought that I was just like you.” Yes, they wanted to kill Him because He claimed to be God, but what made this claim so odious to them was that He, as the self-professed Son of God, was neither like them, nor did He approve of them.
Listen to the proverbs and take heed. Proverbs 16:2 says, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight.” Proverbs 21:2 says, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes.” Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” In their self-righteous pride they thought the Christ would come and welcome them with open arms. That He would walk like them, and talk like them, and think like them, and love what they loved, and hate what they hated.
After Jesus demonstrated to them that He is God, He goes and dines with tax gathers and sinners. What is the Pharisees response? They say, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax gatherers and sinners?” What is their major malfunction? Jesus is doing what they would not do. To them He clearly is not God, because they believe God is just like them, and they would not do such things. Throughout His ministry they question Him about things He does that they do not, or things He does not do that they do, and what does Jesus reveal to them? I am one with the Father, and we are nothing like you, “If God were your Father, you would love Me…you are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.” He did not embrace them, He exposed them as blind hypocrites and condemned them for it:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves…27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness…how shall you escape the sentence of hell?”
They thought that God was just like them, and Jesus, being the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, revealed to them that they neither knew God, nor were they known by Him as His children. Their self-righteous system perpetuated death, but the Christ and His gospel brought life. They are incompatible! He was like a new patch of unshrunk cloth, and they an old garment:
“21 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results.”
He was like new wine, and they old wineskins:
“22 No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”
Their way seemed right to them, but in the end, it lead to death. Rather than turning from their sin and self-righteousness and trusting in Him, they hardened their hearts to the Prince of Peace, and contrived a plan to kill Him.
We get the answer to the question: What will unsaved, unregenerate man, do with God when unrestrained by Him? They will seek to kill Him! Why is this? Mankind, in its fallen state, hates God because He is not like them. He is light and they are darkness. Jesus says:
“19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and these wicked and worthless men want to snuff Him out so that they may not be exposed for who they are and what they truly are.
We should recall that six days prior to the Passover, Judas was enraged because an opportunity to pilfer an abundance of money from the disciples treasury was lost, so he went to these evil men inquiring of them, “What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?” They gave him thirty pieces of silver, just as God had said hundreds of years earlier through the prophet Zechariah:
“I said to them, ‘If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!’ So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.”
From this point Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Him to the chief priests and scribes who “were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him.”
Their plan is coming to fruition before us in the text. Late in the night, Judas:
“43Came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.”
John tells us, that Judas also received the Roman cohort to accompany them, which consisted of roughly 600 well trained and well-armed men. John also reveals that as they approached:
“4 Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.”7 Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.”
Jesus draws to light their cowardice when He says:
“Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber? 49 Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me.”
In other words, “If I’m so wicked to deserve this amount of force to detain Me, why did you allow Me to freely walk and teach among people in the temple?” We know why they did not seize Him, because they feared the people, so they sought to do it privately. As soon as Judas gave the signal “They laid hands on Him and seized Him.”
- The Fear of the Disciples
Luke 22:49 says:
“When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”
It is safe to say they did not wait for His answer as every gospel account records one disciple acting out impetuously. We see this in our text as Mark says:
“But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.”
John discloses the identity of the one as Peter:
“Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus.”
This prompts Christ to cry out, “Stop! No more of this,” and in a divine act of mercy He touched the ear of Malchus and healed him.
Peter undoubtedly wanted to prove himself to Christ, but he did not understand what he was doing. Jesus says to him in Matthew 26:52-54:
“Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?””
There are several points Jesus presents to Peter here on why his actions were foolish:
- “All those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” Murder was punishable by death. If you unlawfully kill a man, you will lawfully die. Had Peter killed Malchus, which was his intent (Fortunately for Malchus, Peter was a fisherman and not a swordsman), he would have been justly tried and executed.
- “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” If He wanted to be saved from this, He did not need Peter to do it. Twelve legions of angels are at His disposal. A legion amount to 6,000 troops. It is worth noting that in 2 Kings 19:35 a single angel killed 185,000 soldiers in a single night. If Jesus wanted to be saved, He could easily call 72,000 angels to His aid.
- “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” His final point to Peter is that, in the end, Peter is not wrestling with man, but God. Is he prepared to wield the sword against Him?
Jesus says to Peter in John 18:11:
“Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”
Luke says that He looks at those who came against Him and said, “This hour and the power of darkness are yours.”
After this His closest followers “all left Him and fled” just as He told them they would. As we talked about several sermons ago, we are reminded of the frailty of those who are faithful and their being prone to falter and overcome with fear.
After the disciples run for their lives, Mark goes on to say:
“51 A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. 52 But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.”
Now at first glance, the prospect of a streaker in the garden is a humorous thing to read; however, when we really consider what Mark is describing here, we see there is nothing funny about it. We are all curious to know who it was, and any answer is pure speculation. Some think it was Mark. Others think James or John. We do not know who it was, but we do know what occurred. The picture Mark paints is that Christ’s enemies were so ravenous and determined to capture both Christ and His followers that they seized anyone who appeared to be following Him; and those following Him were so desperate to escape their cruel rage they would do whatever it took, even if it meant public indecency.
Christ tells us that since He was hated by men, we will be hated also, but we are not to fear man who is only able to inflict physical damage, rather we are to fear God who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Greater is He who is in us, then he who is in the world. Though we may falter, He will never leave us nor forsake us, and Hebrews 13:6 tells us that should draw us to confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?” Jesus says this in John 16:33:
“In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
- The Steadfastness of Christ
Through all the hostility of the world, how could Jesus remain calm and steadfast? How could He willingly allow them to take Him into custody? He knew who was in control of it all, and He left for us an example to follow in His steps. 1 Peter 2:22-23 says that Jesus:
“who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”
Consider His words to Pilate, who thinks he has the ultimate authority over Him:
“Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
This truly is a text containing many events and points, but there is one overarching theme that holds them all together, which is that God is sovereignly working through all of them to bring about His predetermined plan of redemption in His Son. Jesus says, “This has happened that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.” They will mean it for evil, but God will mean it for good.
God works all things after the council of His own will, and no purpose of His will be thwarted. The plans of His heart stand forever, from generation to generation. He causes well-being and creates calamity. He does according to His will among the inhabitants of both heaven and earth, and no one can stop Him. No one can frustrate His plan and prevent Him from accomplishing it or undo what He has already done.
He says in Isaiah 46:9-11:
“Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.”
Remember what He says to us in Isaiah 55:8-11:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it produce and sprout, and providing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;11 So will My word be which goes out of My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the purpose for which I sent it.”
The apostle Paul says this of the glorious message of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
By the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, Christ was handed over into the hands of godless men who crucified Him, but God raised His Son back to life after He sufficiently saved His people by rendering Himself as an offering for their sin, having bour it on His body on the cross that He might suffer the wrath of God in their stead, satisfy His holy justice, and shed His infinitely precious and eternal blood to atone for their sin. God resurrected His Son, proving that He is indeed the Christ, the Son of the Living God; and confirming that His wrath was indeed appeased in Christ, and that His justice was satisfied through His vicarious death, and that the blood of His Son actually atoned for the sins of all those who believe; and showing that all who turn from their sin and self-righteousness and trust in Him will be forgiven their sins and given the hope of eternal life with Him. He became our sin that we might become His righteousness, and that He might be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
The only application I have considering all of this, is for us to spend our lives thinking of the awesomeness of God, and living lives to the praise of His glory. He is not like us! His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His wisdom and knowledge reach depths our minds cannot attain to. His judgments go well beyond our understanding, and His ways beyond our capability of fully exploring. All things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He has worked all things together so that Christ will have preeminence in everything. He is working all things together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. Draw near to our God, and He will draw near to you!
 Matthew 26:39,42
 Mark 10:45
 Mark 14:24a
 Mark 8:31
 Psalm 41:9; 55:12-13
 Isaiah 53:3
 Isaiah 53:5
 Isaiah 53:6
 Zechariah 12:10
 Luke 24:25-27
 1 Peter 1:10-11
 1 Peter 1:12
 Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 13:8
 Genesis 3:15
 Genesis 3:21
 Isaiah 53:2
 John 18:2
 John 2:24
 John 6:70
 Mark 14:20
 Mark 14:24
 Mark 4:19
 1 Timothy 6:10
 Matthew 6:24
 Mark 8:36
 John 10:33
 John 8:42,44
 Matthew 23:13-15,27-28,33
 Hebrews 1:3
 Mark 2:21
 Mark 2:22
 Matthew 26:15
 Mark 14:1
 John 18:3
 John 18:4-9
 John 18:10
 Luke 22:51
 Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:4
 Luke 22:53
 John 15:18
 Matthew 10:28
 1 John 4:4
 John 19:10-11
 Mark 14:49
 Ephesians 1:11; Job 42:2
 Psalm 33:11
 Isaiah 45:6-7
 Daniel 4:35
 Isaiah 14:27
 Acts 2:22-23
 1 Peter 1:18-19; 2:24
 John 20:31
 Romans 5:8-9; 1 John 2:2; 4:10
 John 19:30
 Romans 10:9-13
 2 Corinthians 5:21
 Romans 3:26
 Romans 11:33a
 Romans 11:33b
 Colossians 1:16
 Colossians 1:17
 Colossians 1:18
 Romans 8:28
 James 4:8