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The Betrayal.

Leaving the Upper Room, Jesus and his disciples went out into the moonlit night, for there was full moon at the passover, and took their way through the streets out of the eastern gate, across the Kedron, to the garden of Gethsemane, about a half mile from the city walls, near the western base of Mt. Olivet. The Garden, or orchard, takes its name from a word meaning oil press, and doubtless was shaded by the olive trees, from which the hill takes its designation. Still the traveler meets on this slope with giant olives, no doubt the descendants of those under the shade of which Jesus reposed. Here the Lord endured the Agony of the Garden, that wonderful struggle, with its sublime victory, recorded in the words, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” Immediately after this we may place the appearance of the band led by Judas. How wonderful the events of this night! It is the only night of the life of Jesus that we can trace. We see first, the Passover in the upper room, then the washing of feet, the exposure of Judas, the warning to Peter, the tender discourses to the disciples, the agony at Gethsemane, the betrayal, the arrest, the trial before the Sanhedrim, the trial before Pilate, the scourging, &c., &c. (Joh 18:1)

1. He went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron. The eleven apostles were with Jesus when he left the Upper Room and departed on this eventful journey, the most eventful in the history of the world. The brook Kedron, which he crossed, flowed through a ravine east of Jerusalem, between the city and the Mount of Olives. The name means the black torrent. It was dry during 261the dry, but a rushing torrent during the rainy season. Where was a garden. John does not give the name, but all the other writers designate it. Gethsemane means “oil-press.” It was probably an enclosed olive vineyard, containing a press and garden-tower, perhaps a dwelling-house. It was at the western foot of the Mount of Olives, beyond the Kedron. The spot now pointed out as Gethsemane lies on the right of the path to the Mount of Olives. The wall has been restored. Eight olive trees remain, all of them very old, but scarcely of the time of our Lord, since Titus, during the siege of Jerusalem, had all the trees of the district cut down.—Schaff. (Joh 18:2)

2. Judas . . . . knew the place; for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither. The movements of Judas, after the Last Supper, we may readily picture to ourselves in their outline. Going immediately to Caiaphas, or to some other leading member of the Sanhedrim, he informs him where Jesus is, and announces that he is ready to fulfill his compact, and at once to make the arrest. It was not the intention to arrest Christ during the feast, lest there should be a popular tumult (Matt. 26:5); but, now that an opportunity offered of seizing him secretly at dead of night, when all were asleep or engaged at the paschal meal, his enemies could not hesitate. Judas knew the place, for it was a frequent resort of Jesus with his disciples. He had been there ofttimes. No hallowed associations with that sacred spot deterred his treason for one moment. (Joh 18:3)

3. Judas, then, having received a band of men. The multitude, guided by Judas, is described by Mark as “great.” It consisted (1) of the band (John 18:3, 12), or Roman cohort, which, consisting of 300 to 600 men, was quartered in the tower of Antonia, overlooking the temple, and ever ready to put down any tumult or arrest any disturber. Probably so much of the band as could be spared was present. (2) There were the captains of the temple (Luke 22:52), with their men, who guarded the temple and kept order. (3) Some of the chief priests and elders (Luke 22:52). (4) And, finally, their servants, such as Malchus. The priests, ignorant of the spirit and purposes of Jesus, expected resistance. The “lanterns and torches” show that they expected that he might hide in the dark shadows of the valleys and crags. Otherwise they would not have been required when there was the full passover moon. (Joh 18:4)

4. Jesus, knowing all things that should come upon him. Knowing their objects and all that he had to endure on the morrow. He submitted of his own will, and after the troubled hour of Gethsemane, is as calm as the unruffled sea. Whom seek ye? Jesus “went forth” from the shadow of the trees into the moonlight, 262or from the garden walls, advancing in front of his disciples, in order to save them from arrest (verse 8), and asked whom they sought. (Joh 18:5) (Joh 18:6)

5, 6. Judas, also, which betrayed him, stood with them. To the Lord's question, his foes replying that they sought Jesus of Nazareth, he calmly replied, “I am he.” Then follows a scene designed to show all the world that the Lord laid down his own life. His foemen were powerless in his hands. As he answers, either his majesty and their own terror so impressed them, that, awed, they fell backward to the earth, or his divine power was exerted to prostrate them. Then the Lord submitted himself “as a lamb to the slaughter,” and his power is not again exerted until he rises from the tomb, except to heal the smitten servant of the high priest. John calls attention to the fact that Judas was with the band thus discomfited. The other writers mention, what John omits, that Judas betrayed the Lord with a kiss. See Mark 14:44, 45. This probably occurred just before what John records in verses 5th And 6th. (Joh 18:7) (Joh 18:8) (Joh 18:9)

7, 8, 9. Let these go their way. After the guard had recovered from its sudden terror, perhaps wondering how it could have been so smitten to the earth, but still standing as if they did not know what to do, Jesus again asks whom they seek, and on their answer, repeats that he is the one they seek, adding the request that, if their object is to take him, they should lot his disciples go. In this hour his thoughts were not on himself, but concerning the safety of his followers. In their safety the Scripture would be fulfilled, his own words, uttered in his prayer (John 17:12). The present deliverance of the eleven would be the beginning of the fulfillment of that promise, and the same power that protected them now, would protect them to the end. (Joh 18:10)

10. Then Simon Peter . . . smote the high priest's servant. We learn from Luke 22:38, that there were but two swords in the whole company of the twelve. One of these naturally was in Peter's possession, as being the foremost of the whole band. Abbott surmises that the attack on the guard followed their sudden terror. All the disciples were eager to make it (Luke 22:49), though Peter was the only one who carried the will into action. In Luke 22:49, Peter first asks if they shall fight. He waits not for the answer, but impelled by the natural 263courage of his heart, and taking no heed of the odds against him, aims a blow at one, probably the foremost of the band,—the first that was daring to lay profane hands on the sacred person of the Lord. (Joh 18:11)

11. Put up thy sword into the sheath. Matthew 26:52, 53, is in some respects fuller, and is full of instruction: “Put up again thy sword into its place; for all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword.” There is no possibility of advancing Christ's kingdom in such worldly ways, by force, by depending on the rich, or on state patronage. And there is no need of such aid, either for Christ or his kingdom. God only can save them from worldly trouble if that were the best; for “thinkest thou I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me twelve legions of angels?” The same thought is expressed here: “The cup which my Father hath given shall I not drink it?” He was, by the will of the Father surrendering himself, for the time, to the power of his enemies. They could have no power over him without his consent. (Joh 18:12)

12. Then the band, and the captain and officers of the Jews, took Jesus and bound him. The disciples “all forsook him and fled” (Mark 14:50), probably at this moment, and the soldiers of the Roman band, and the Jewish temple officers, rough, cruel men, seized and bound the Son of God. The terror inspired by the gentle but mighty Jesus is shown in the fact that all unite to seize him and to bind him. While they were binding him the disciples had an opportunity to escape. (Joh 18:13)

13. And led him away to Annas first. The actual high priest at the time was Caiaphas; but this Annas had been high priest, and as such enjoyed the title by courtesy. Being also a man of great wealth and influence, and of active habits, he took upon him much of the business of that high office, as a sort of assessor to, or substitute for, Caiaphas, who was his son-in-law. Hence the evangelist describes them both as “high priests” (Luke 3:2), as they were in fact. (Joh 18:14)

14. Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews, etc. Caiaphas had already committed himself to the policy of condemnation (John 11:50). He was appointed high priest by the Roman procurator about 27 a.d., held the office during the whole administration of Pilate, was deposed 36 or 37 a.d. Both Annas and Caiaphas were creatures of the Roman court; both belonged to the Saddusaic party; both, that is, were openly infidel concerning some of the fundamental truths of the Hebrew faith. Originally the high priest was appointed for life but the Romans set him aside and appointed a successor whenever they wished. Annas had been thus deposed, but was probably still regarded as the real high priest by many of the Jews. 264

The reader will observe, as in 11:49–52, the statement that Caiaphas was priest “that same year” and “gave counsel that Jesus should die.” I wish to emphasize the thought that John does not intend to intimate that the high-priesthood was an annual office, but that Caiaphas was the high priest that same remarkable year, and that he was instrumental in the death of Christ, by declaring “that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.” “Every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices” and was wont to enter “the holy place once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins of the whole people” (Heb. 9:7). Hence, John indicates not only that Caiaphas unconsciously prophesied, but unconsciously, also, “being high priest that year,” sent the great Victim to the sacrifice who died for the sins of the world.

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