Betrayal

Matthew 26:47–56 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 14:43–52; Luke 22:47–53; John 18:1–11 )

47 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

50 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?”

Matthew 26:47-50

This passage signals a dramatic shift in the Passion narrative. Whereas up until now Jesus has simply been preparing His disciples for His eventual crucifixion, the actions that will lead up to His death are now beginning in earnest. Jesus’ betrayal is the first domino in a fall that will lead to Him being crucified in the hours to come. Judas’ kiss is the lighting of the apocalyptic fuse, and Jesus looks at it burning shorter and shorter without blinking.

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. 51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

52 But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”

55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. 56 But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

Matthew 26:51-56

The next moments in the narrative became quite chaotic. In John’s account, Jesus asked the soldiers who they sought, they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” When He said, “I am He,’ the fell backward, signifying the power He possessed. He was surrendering to them, even though He could have called legions of angels to defend Him. The soldiers grabbed Jesus, and Peter (according to John), cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the high priest. According to Luke’s gospel account, Jesus picked up the ear and put it back on Malchus’ ear, healing him. For some unforeseen purpose, Mark records that a young man, wrapped in a linen cloth, followed Jesus, but was scared away by the soldiers.

Jesus posits the idea that all this series of events was part of a grand fulfillment of prophetic Scriptures relating to the nature of His betrayal and arrest (Isaiah 50:6, 53:2-11; Lamentations 4:20; Zechariah 13:7). Soldiers came to arrest Him, they bore swords and clubs, He willingly went with them, and the disciples fled and forsook Him, all to fulfill the words spoken by prophets hundreds of years earlier. This betrayal was part of a grand scheme, a plan of God, to bring about the salvation of the world.

Artwork from https://www.mercimepictures.com/matthew2650.html

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