Jesus Arrested in Gethsemane

47While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. 51But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. 52Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns” (Luke 22:47-53).

Judas knew the place where Jesus often slept through the night, so he brought a detachment of Roman soldiers and officials from the religious elite. The Greek word speira, translated as “detachment” (John 18:3), is a term to designate a specific subgroup of Roman soldiers sent from the Antonia Fortress situated to the north of the Temple Mount, where Pilate, the Roman governor, had his garrison. This subgroup consisted of 450 fighting men. This was in addition to those sent from the Chief Priests and Pharisees. Some scholars have estimated that there may have been as many as six hundred soldiers and men from the religious elite.

Why so many? It was likely that the religious elite and soldiers were expecting a fight and that there might be more of Christ’s disciples in the garden with Him. They brought lanterns because, perhaps, they were expecting Jesus to hide. The Lord didn’t wait for them to come looking for Him, He took the initiative; He went out of the garden to them (John 18:4). His concern was for His disciples so that His prayer of protection in John 17 would be answered during the arrest. He was in control of the whole situation. The apostle John gives us a bit more information as to what happened. Jesus asked them:

“Who is it you want?” 5“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground (John 18:4-6).

The Roman soldiers were ready for anything as they approached the garden. When they said they were looking for Jesus, the Lord replied uttering the divine name in Greek, the name of God, “I AM” (egō eimi). Some of you have the words, I am he in the text, but the word “He” is absent from the original Greek and added by the translators to make the statement easier to understand in English. Again and again in the Gospels, we have seen Jesus adding the name of God to different aspects of His character. I am the Gate; I am the Good Shepherd, I am the Light of the World, I am the Way, etc. When He said those words, this was a display of raw spiritual power before these soldiers. Jesus was letting the soldiers know that He was willingly giving Himself into their hands. What a picture it must have been, hundreds of men terrified of one Man and His eleven disciples, and only one of them is using a sword in defense.

In his usual rash behavior, Peter slashed at the high priest’s servant named Malchus with his sword, severing the man’s ear. Peter was risking a fight at this point, but the Lord intervenes and gently reminds His disciples to put up the sword, reminding Peter that it must be this way, that there is a cup of suffering that He must drink to put away sin for all men. Why don’t the 450-600 men attack Peter and the disciples? It seems that the presence of the Lord had unsettled the soldiers. Luke tells us that Jesus put His hand to Malchus’ ear, and it miraculously sprouted another ear—“he touched the man’s ear and healed him” (Luke 22:51). The healing was instantaneous. There was no hunting around for the ear, Jesus just put His hand to the ear and gave him another. I wonder if Malchus found the ear that had been cut off after the Lord was taken away.

Christ was in control at every point. He didn’t run away. He confronted the armed soldiers. We might not always know what will happen to us when we say, “Your will be done,” but there is a peace that passes all understanding when our lives and will are given into the Lord’s hands. Many of you are at the crossroads of Gethsemane. Submitting to God’s will is the big question: will you submit to His purpose for your life? Will you lay down your will and place your life into His hands?

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 60, Jesus at Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-53). Keith Thomas

Gethsemane: The Place of the Olive Press

We are continuing our meditations on the drama that took place the night before Christ was crucified. It was late in the evening when the disciples left the Upper Room where they had eaten the Passover supper together. Tradition tells us that the room was situated to the west of the Old City of Jerusalem. They walked eastwards together to the Mount of Olives on the eastern side of the Temple Mount, crossing the Kidron valley that separated the Mount of Olives from Herod’s temple. Luke tells us that this was Christ’s usual place to stay the night, sleeping under the stars (Luke 22:39). Even though He knew that Judas was about to bring the temple guards there to arrest Him, He still went to the place Judas knew of. The arrest was no surprise to Jesus; He knew how much time He had to pray and had no thought of escape or avoiding what was coming. Matthew and Mark both tell us that the place was called Gethsemane, whereas John calls it an olive grove. Luke just says the place was the Mount of Olives. Passover always coincided with the full moon, which afforded the disciples the opportunity to look in on the scene that took place. The Mount of Olives was so called because of the many olive trees growing there. Gethsemane literally means the place of the olive press. Olive oil was used for lighting, and perhaps was the very source of the huge candelabra’s that lit up the temple and the surrounding area of Jerusalem at night. The oil was extracted by crushing the olives in the press, maybe the very press there in the Garden of Gethsemane.

 39Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.45When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46“Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:39-46).

What was happening there on the Mount of Olives? That’s the big question we want to answer with our study today. In this passage, we see Jesus confronting His own death. In the Garden, we get a picture of what was going through His mind as He talks to His Father in prayer. We see the state of His heart and the thoughts He had in the hours before crucifixion. It seems significant that He who called Himself the Light of the World (John 8:12), would go through a crushing and pressing experience there in Gethsemane, the place of the olive press. The Lord also said that we as Christians are also lights of the world (Matthew 5:14). If we desire to shine brightly for God, we also will be taken by the Spirit into the darkness of a Gethsemane experience, where we will have to make spiritual choices to relinquish our wills to Christ. Many of us have come to Christ by going through a broken and pressing experience that has caused us to wonder about what would happen to us when we die, or wonder about the meaning of our lives. The Lord allows a Gethsemane in our lives. In Gethsemane we are tempted to give in to our flesh to do whatever would please us or give us some relief. Life teaches us that the easy way is not always the right way. We can answer to our fears and our appetites, or we can seek a higher way. During these times, we face crossroads in our lives. We can take the easy road or we can take the “Christ road.” The Christ road will bring us pain at times, but it is the way of fruitfulness. The road to maturity is the way of the Cross. The Lord allows growth spurts to come to our lives by giving us situations designed by God to prompt faith-filled choices. These choices seem counter-intuitive when viewed in the light of self-preservation. In our Gethsemane experiences, we can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the way to go. He will reveal the choices that honor God and keep us true. He will give us the strength and ability to choose the right way, if that is what we desire. Although it may be hard, He offers us His strength and peace when we face our own temptations. He will always leave us to make the choice. Let’s talk more about this tomorrow.

Taken from the series on the Gospel of Luke, found in the middle column near to the top. To view, click here. Click on study 60, Jesus at Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-53). Keith Thomas