Message Notes: Jesus’ Arrest Feb 11
Ask your group members why they think Judas betrayed Jesus. What do they know about Judas and his time spent as a disciple? Also consider spending time discussing the motives the chief priests and other religious leaders had for arresting Jesus, especially their need for using Judas to conspire against Jesus. Finally, why do you think Jesus told his disciples not to put up a fight against those who had come to take him away. In today’s passage, we can gain a greater understanding of the role Judas played in bringing out about God’s plan to redeem mankind.
BIG PICTURE/MAIN IDEA:
Synopsis: God’s plan sometimes allows the powers of darkness to win a victory over God’s people, even over his Son, but the victory is always short-lived.
The story of Jesus’ arrest and betrayal is found in all four Gospels. Luke’s account is the shortest. Yet it omits nothing essential to the story and even contains additional materials not found elsewhere, such as the healing of the servant’s ear (22:51) and the statement about “your hour—when darkness reigns” (22:53). The account in Luke consists of three “acts.” In the first (22:47–48) Judas leads a crowd—later described as consisting of the chief priests, officers of the temple guard, and elders (22:52)—to Jesus. As he draws near, Jesus reveals that he knows Judas will betray him with a kiss. In the second act (22:49–51) the disciples ask Jesus whether they should fight, and before Jesus can answer, a disciple takes a sword and cuts off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus then rebukes his disciples and heals the servant. In the third act (22:52–53) Jesus rebukes his opponents for their cowardice in not arresting him openly while he taught in the temple. He also points out that this is the last desperate attempt of the power of darkness to thwart God’s plan.
KEY POINTS IN THE PASSAGE:
- Judas deliberately hands Jesus over to those sent to arrest him.
- Jesus does not resist arrest, and he forbids his disciples to use violence on his behalf.
WHAT DOES IT SAY?
READ Luke 22:47-54 and answer the questions below:
What happened while Jesus was speaking to his disciples?
What did Judas do when he saw Jesus? How did Jesus respond?
What did those around Jesus ask him? What happened immediately after?
How did Jesus respond to the actions of his disciples? What miracle did he perform?
What did Jesus say to the chief priests and those who came to arrest him?
What power did Jesus reference in v. 53?
Luke recorded three elements in the betrayal and arrest of Jesus. First, Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him (vv. 47–48). A large crowd including the religious leaders (v. 52) and soldiers (John 18:12) came into the grove with Judas leading them. Judas had agreed on a sign for the people who had come with him—he would kiss the One they were to arrest. Jesus, by His words, showed that He already knew all about the betrayal, including Judas’ secret sign. Second, Jesus had compassion for people even in the midst of His own arrest (Luke 22:49–51). After Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (named Malchus, John 18:10), using one of the two swords the disciples possessed (Luke 22:38), Jesus healed the man. Third, Jesus pointed up the hypocrisy of the religious leaders (vv. 52–53). Jesus asked them why they had not arrested Him during the day as He taught in the temple. The reason was obvious, that out of fear of the people they looked for a way to arrest Him secretly (19:48; 20:19; 22:2). Thus He could tell them, This is your hour—when darkness reigns (v. 53). Not only were they coming out under the cover of darkness, but they were also acting as the forces of darkness to kill the Messiah. The garden experience must have ended by about 2:30 a.m., for the six trials of Jesus were completed by morning and Jesus was on the cross by 9:00 a.m. The arrest in the garden was illegal for it was done at night and was accomplished through a hired accuser.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Use the information from the text and the commentary notes below to help discern responses to the following questions.
- Why do you think Jesus asked Judas about betraying him with a kiss?
- Why do you think Jesus told his disciples to stop fighting, especially after he told them in v. 36 about getting a sword?
- Why do you think Jesus told the religious leaders that “this is your hour, and the power of darkness”?
Jesus was ready to display his power. Certainly, he could call down angels if needed to disperse and disrupt the arresting crowd. Instead, he interrupted his disciples’ brief stab at self-defense. Would the disciples have been willing to see this as the time to bring in Jesus’ kingdom? Could this have been the start of the rebellion against Jewish religious leaders and even Rome? No. Jesus displayed his power in another way. He quieted his disciples, quelling any revolution they might think of starting. Then he used his miraculous power to restore and heal the slave’s ear. Healing was his power game, not revolution.
Jesus turned the mob’s actions around. Here was a quiet, peaceful teacher and healer. Every day he went about his ministry healing and helping people. Any time they could have easily taken him. Instead, they waited until the cover of darkness and brought the entire leadership team as well as the armed police. Did they think he was a criminal leading a rebellion? No, he had already shown they were the thieves by the way they mismanaged temple business (19:46). He saw through their pretense. They could not claim to the crowds who hung on Jesus’ words that they had found him in criminal activity under cover of darkness.
They must know one thing. They were not in control. This was their hour, but they did not control history’s hours. God set up the system of day and night, light and dark, twenty-four hour days. He controls each hour. He had assigned this hour to them to do their business of darkness. They operated in the dominion of darkness—under the rule of Satan. He had another victory, but only because that was God’s plan.
HOW DOES IT APPLY?
What does this passage teach betrayal? How should you respond to those who betray you?
What does this passage teach us about conflict? How did Jesus respond to conflict and how can we model his approach?
Take some time to think about someone who you feel has betrayed you? Have you forgiven them? Why or why not? How can the group pray for you to work on forgiving those who have wronged you?
22:47 While he was still speaking. The present account is tied closely to the preceding. A crowd came. Literally, Behold a crowd. The make-up of this crowd is described in 22:52. According to John 18:3, 12, Roman soldiers were also part of this crowd. Usually the “crowd” (ochlos) is seen as positive in their attitude toward Jesus (see comments on 4:15). The term may appear in this verse, however, because of its use in Luke’s source (cf. Mark 14:43; cf. also Matt 26:47). The man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve. The historicity of Jesus’ betrayal by a disciple is undeniable. No one in the church would have created a story in which one of Jesus’ own disciples betrayed him. Was leading them. In the sense of “going before” the crowd. Judas was not the actual “leader” of the group. He approached Jesus to kiss him. A kiss was frequently given when greeting someone. Perhaps here we have a customary kiss of greeting from a disciple to his teacher. Luke omitted the Markan explanation that a kiss by Judas was the means by which he revealed which person in the darkness was Jesus (Mark 14:44).
22:48 Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? This is perhaps better translated by means of a kiss. In Mark 14:45; Matt 26:49, Judas actually kisses Jesus. Luke did not explicitly state this, but he may have assumed that his readers were familiar with the account (cf. Luke 1:4) and knew this. This was likely the means by which Judas identified Jesus on the Mount of Olives. The horror of betraying a friend is heightened by his use of a kiss to do this. The seriousness of this act is shown by Luke’s pointing out that Judas was, in fact, betraying the Son of Man.
22:49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen. Literally seeing the about to take place thing. In the original situation this referred to Jesus’ arrest, but Luke and his readers may have thought more along the lines of the fulfillment of God’s plan, i.e., the Son of Man was now being betrayed into the hands of men as he said (9:44), and Peter was about to deny Jesus (22:34). Lord, should we strike with our swords? This, asked by one of the two who possessed a sword (22:38), was a rhetorical question in the original setting in life as their actions showed, but for Luke and his readers, the question may have been more deliberative in nature. Luke may have wanted his readers to reflect on whether force fits into the Christian life. For “Lord” see comments on 6:46.
22:50 One of them struck the servant of the high priest. John 18:10 states that this was Simon Peter and that the name of the servant was Malchus. Cutting off his right ear. Compare John 18:10.
22:51 No more of this! Literally permit as far as this. This can be addressed to the disciples and mean “Stop, no more [of this]” (NIV, RSV) or “Let them [my opponents] have their way” (NEB). Or it can be addressed to Jesus’ opponents, “Tolerate this much violence on the part of My followers.” The first interpretation is more likely: Jesus was rebuking the action of the disciples. As in 22:38 they did not understand Jesus’ teachings. They did not pray (22:40, 46), and thus they neither knew nor were able to act correctly in this time of trial. He touched the man’s ear and healed him. Only Luke recorded the healing. Thus he showed that even in his time of trial Jesus modeled his teachings (cf. 6:27–31, 35–36). For the use of touch in healing, cf. 5:13; 7:14; 8:43–47.
22:52 Chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders. In Mark 14:43 instead of officers of the temple (cf. Luke 22:4) the third member of this group are the teachers of the law. Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? This question is literally, Have you come out against a robber? The word “robber” (lēstēn) can also refer to a revolutionary. Luke 22:37 may find partial fulfillment here, even though its primary fulfillment occurs in 23:32–34, 39–43.
22:53 Every day I was with you … and you did not lay a hand on me. Jesus rebuked his opponents for their cowardice. They were afraid to arrest him in the openness of the temple. The reason was clear to Luke’s readers—the people would have opposed them (19:47–48; 20:19; 22:2; cf. also John 18:20). The very fact that Jesus taught daily and openly in the temple distinguishes his activity from that of the revolutionaries, who operated in the mountains and had to be hunted down. Jesus did not operate in the darkness, as his opponents were presently doing, but in the light. But this is your hour. Compare Luke 22:36; cf. also John 7:30; 8:20. Mark 14:49 states, “The Scriptures must be fulfilled,” which is another way of pointing to the arrival of the time in which God’s redemptive plan would take place and find its fulfillment. When darkness reigns. That which was taking place involved a far deeper opposition than that between the Jewish leadership and Jesus. It involved the cosmic opposition between Satan, the ruler of this age, and God (cf. Acts 26:18; cf. also Luke 22:3, 31). The darkness of the present moment is symbolic of the reign of darkness at this time. Compare John 13:30.
We do not read of the fleeing (literally leaving in the sense of “forsaking”) of the disciples as in Mark 14:50; Matt 26:56. In so doing Luke may have been seeking both to play down the disciples’ failure at this time (cf. Luke 8:11; 9:33e; 22:45, 53; and parallels), as well as to emphasize the cosmic nature of what was taking place. Luke probably assumed that his readers knew this and would supply this information to the story from the traditions they had been taught (1:4).