Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,” that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.” (John 18:3-9)
They Came Against Jesus With Weapons
The Garden of Gethsemane was normally a place of quiet repose and reflection often used by the Lord to meet with His disciples. On this night, under a bright full moon, hundreds of men moved against twelve men who huddled in the olive groves of the mount outside Jerusalem. Jesus had drawn Himself away from His disciple to pray to His Father for the coming hour. Peter, James and John struggled to remain awake as their Lord spent time in prayer. Suddenly a large band of men consisting of Roman Soldiers, guards from the Temple, Jewish leaders and curious mobs of men appeared before Jesus. They held torches and lanterns on a bright night to emphasize their determined work of finding the man from Nazareth. Their hearts will filled with hatred to find the man called Jesus and arrest Him for blasphemy. Nothing was more intent in their evil minds than to find a way to kill this false teacher and accuser of Israel. The Roman Soldiers had their weapons of war lashed to their sides with the authority of the Roman Empire. Jewish leaders brought their cohorts of soldiers to make certain their plan to kill Jesus was carried out. Curious onlookers with a mob mentality joined the fray with clubs and torches. The multitude surged forward with angry words and malicious thoughts to find this man who claimed to be God. At the head of the mob was a familiar face to Jesus. He was one of His trusted apostles whom He loved. Judas the son of Simon Iscariot had given over the location of his Lord to the Jewish leaders for the price of a slave leading them to where he often would commune with the Lord. As the crowd approached Jesus He inquired whom they were seeking. “Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered Him. When the Lord told the rabble horde that He was the one they were looking for a remarkable thing happened. Instead of rushing Him they fell backwards. Fear clenched their hearts. The fierce mob of people brought weapons to fight if necessary but the Lord in calm tones of authority awaited their determined course. Then the soldiers bound Jesus in chains and led Him away.
What is amazing about the arrest of Jesus in the garden is the mob coming at Him with weapons and clubs. Here was the man who healed every known disease of man and they think weapons will be of impact against Him. They bring the Roman soldiers with the might of the Roman Empire against a man who raised a number of people from the dead. As the mob grew in number people began picking up clubs and sticks to fight against a man who never harmed another soul. The Jewish leaders rallied the crowd to rage to arrest this Jesus for the blasphemy they accused Him of saying He was the Son of God. Like any mob that gathers against someone or something most probably had little idea what was going on. Through the agitation of the Jewish leaders seeking to have Jesus killed large groups of people converged on the garden of Gethsemane to join in the work of arresting one man. There was no need for the mob, the clubs, the lanterns and torches. The Roman authorities could have seen a small detachment of troops to arrest one man but his was not an ordinary man. In an irony of parallels the arrest of Jesus was the commentary on the rejection of man to the saving grace of God.
Jesus will later tell Pilate if it were the Father’s will twelve legions of angels would rescue the Son of God from the clutches of human authority. All the weapons and clubs in the world could not and would not deter the will of God. Peter tried to show his courage by lunging at the servant of the high priest and did manage to cut off his ear. It seems incredulous no one noticed the miracle Jesus performed when He restored the man’s ear whole again. How could any weapon fight against such power? In the past three years what power could match the authority of Jesus of Nazareth to heal all manner of diseases, cast out demons, walk on water and calm the storm and raise the dead? If Jesus had that kind of power what value would a club or sword serve to arrest Him? When the Roman soldiers approached Jesus and bound Him in chains, how was that possible? This same man had cast out the demons from a man that could tear chains apart and yet He allowed these men to bind Him and lead Him away. Jesus did not fight against the crowd that came to him with weapons and clubs because He was giving His life for all men – including those standing before Him. He would die to show all government that He was King. His death would turn the hearts of many Jews to the Christ. Refusing to fight against the weapons of men illustrated the grace offered by God through His Son that salvation is found in servitude. Jesus died for all men giving His life to redeem man from the fear of death and sting of sin. The moment of decision in the garden of Gethsemane was the beginning of the end of Satan’s rule over man. No weapon could stand against God. The gospel is the message of God unto salvation. That is the power of Jesus Christ against the weapons of man.