With Swords and Clubs
47-49 The words were barely out of his mouth when Judas (the one from the Twelve) showed up, and with him a gang from the high priests and religious leaders brandishing swords and clubs. The betrayer had worked out a sign with them: “The one I kiss, that’s the one—seize him.” He went straight to Jesus, greeted him, “How are you, Rabbi?” and kissed him.
50-51 Jesus said, “Friend, why this charade?”
Then they came on him—grabbed him and roughed him up. One of those with Jesus pulled his sword and, taking a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant, cut off his ear.
52-54 Jesus said, “Put your sword back where it belongs. All who use swords are destroyed by swords. Don’t you realize that I am able right now to call to my Father, and twelve companies—more, if I want them—of fighting angels would be here, battle-ready? But if I did that, how would the Scriptures come true that say this is the way it has to be?”
55-56 Then Jesus addressed the mob: “What is this—coming out after me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I have been sitting in the Temple teaching, and you never so much as lifted a hand against me. You’ve done it this way to confirm and fulfill the prophetic writings.”
Then all the disciples cut and ran.
Under the cover of darkness they came to arrest the Savior of the world. The High Priests had worked it all out. This Jesus, a militant masquerading as a Savior would finally get his due. That’s what they thought, but little did they know they were triggering the start of God’s plan to change everything for everyone! I’m always in awe as I see the plan of God unfolding in my life and in scripture. It’s amazing to me to see how these men, who were driven by their own pride and lust for power, were part of accomplishing the grand masterpiece of God’s plan to redeem humanity. How Jesus, God in the flesh, enters the world of humans and uses all of our mess, mire and drama to accomplish this great feat of defeating death for all who would believe in Him. It reminds me of how often God enters and uses my mistakes and misdirected steps of life to accomplish His purpose and transformation in me. Join me as darkness surrounds us and witness the betrayers kiss. Experience the emotions that come from such a betrayal but then allow yourself to feel the awe that comes from knowing the truth that God had a plan from the start. The same is true for you and me today.
It’s not surprising to see such a raw human reaction from the disciples. Imagine the scene. Jesus, who you have been following and now radically believe is the Messiah is being arrested! How could this happen. The disciples must have been scrambling, wondering what is going on, this is not how it’s supposed to go down. In their minds they were still believing that Jesus was going to be doing some moving and some shaking in Jerusalem and in the people and nation of Israel. And what does one do when your leader is threatened and everything that you hope for is in danger? You fight! We fight! Right? Jesus responds not by joining the fight but with words of peace and a little irritation. Put your sword down, if you fight you will die. Don’t you think if I wanted to I could open of a can right here right now with my angel army? In Luke’s account we learn how Jesus’ went even one step further to teach us something about his intentions. He picks up the ear of the servant and heals him right there on the spot. Over and over we see Jesus respond in ways that reveal His heart and passion. He is on a mission of kenosis, a self emptying. Every action, every word reveals the greater purpose of His presence and that’s to surrender and become the sacrifice that will ensure our survival. It’s an example of emptying that we are called to follow as His people.
Then all the disciples cut and ran.
Jesus foretold the reactions of those who were closest to Him, but it’s still a little hard to take. How could they run? Jesus had talked about these events and it should have bolstered their confidence, it should have caused them to trust that God was in control. But there in the early morning dim, Jesus faced the cross alone. I can’t begin to image what it would have been like to be Jesus in that moment. Those closest to you gone, the reality of what lay ahead weighing heavy upon your shoulders. Maybe though, its this intense isolation, that teaches us something we tend to loss sight of. Jesus was alone because only He could accomplish and fulfill what was required on that day thousands of years ago. Only He could bear the burden of our sin and only he could remain faithful, even in the grip of death, to the mission and plan of His Father. May the reality of this grace, this undeserved favor that He offers through a sacrifice that only He could make, impress upon our hearts the wondrous gift that it is. May the idea of grace be fresh and new to you as it is to me today as we see our Savior standing alone facing the cross that we deserved to bare.
Grace & Peace