47 While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
A band of armed men enter the garden and approach Jesus. They are led by Judas. According to John, he had slipped away during the Passover meal. He had taken command of the men the chief priests had raised to arrest Jesus, and told them to get whatever guy he walked up to and kissed.
A kiss was a common greeting between men in the Middle East and still is today. A kiss or three kisses are made on the cheeks. It’s a sign of peace, warmth, and respect. So it was intended to be even more of a gut punch to Jesus.
As Judas approaches Him, He speaks. I read His statement in a couple of ways. First, it was telling Judas that He was aware of what Judas intended. Secondly, I think it was a statement meant to be a wakeup call to the errant disciple. It’s a “Think about what you’re doing. Is this really want you want?” Another gospel says that Jesus addressed him as ‘friend’.
It’s important to realize that even in our own failures and deliberate betrayals of what we believe that Jesus still calls us friend and appeals to us as a Friend to stop and realize what we’re actually doing.
49 When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.
It took the disciples a minute to realize what was happening. They were still tired. But when they did, Peter was quick to break out the swords. He wants the command to start killing for Jesus. Yeah. There is an inherent contradiction in the idea of killing for Jesus, in that you don’t do that. And if you do kill, it’s not for Jesus. God doesn’t need us to kill for Him. He’s not okay with that at all. Unfortunately, it took His followers about 16 centuries to realize that and some of them still think it’s okay today. It’s not. The Lord puts a stop to it almost immediately. This isn’t how men and women of the Kingdom of Heaven act.
We can cut Peter some slack. He faced an armed crowd who had come to take his Lord away and meant neither one of them good. So he did what comes natural. He defended himself and he defended Jesus. Fortunately, he wasn’t very good with a sword. He was spared the act of killing another human being, and only injured the high priest’s slave instead.
Jesus immediately heals the slave of his wound.
39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also…
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Jesus practiced what He preached. Even as they planned on murdering Him, He had compassion on one of them that was wounded.
52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber? 53 While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.”
Jesus confronts the priests who had joined the crowd. He calls them out for the way in which they approach Him. They come at night. They shied away from doing this publicly at the Temple. They were afraid of losing their power and their positions if this deed were done before the crowds. And perhaps some of them knew in the core of their being that what they were doing was wrong and wanted to avoid being anywhere near the Temple when the deed was done.
When discussing the morality of an action, it’s a good rule of thumb that if we wouldn’t want to do it in public, then it’s probably something we shouldn’t be doing. Not always, of course, but in most cases.
The priests and the mob arrest Jesus. They couldn’t kill Him right then and there. It had to be done in a nice and legal fashion. No doubt to assure themselves that they were following God in committing murder. One of those asterisks mankind added to the Ten Commandments when no one was looking. Don’t murder… unless…. Don’t commit adultery… unless….
We like to do that with our religion. Lets us ignore the inconvenient parts and still feel pretty good about ourselves.