The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
Journey to the Empty Tomb – Easter 2014
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
John 18:1-11
 
I want to begin with you a journey to the resurrection of Jesus.  This year, Easter will be observed on April 20.  That means we have 8 weeks between now and then to familiarize ourselves once again with the particulars of the greatest story ever told.
 
That will be just enough time for us to cover verse-by-verse chapters 18, 19 and 20 of John’s gospel, if we begin right now!
 
So turn in your Bibles to the eighteenth chapter and let’s get started.
 
Now in regard to this 18th chapter, I want to say to you that this is one of the most thrilling chapters in all the Bible, and yet it is often summarily read and passed over in order to get to the “good stuff” of chapters 19 and 20.  And what I want you to see is that even though it is historical narrative, when looked at in depth, it reveals the excellencies of Jesus Christ in a way that few other, if any, passage in the entire gospel of John does. It is a passage that is rich and powerful and insightful in terms of Jesus Christ.
 
When we come to chapter 18 we have arrived at the final events of the earthly life of Jesus Christ.  Now, keep in mind, this is the climax of the story. What is now about to happen is the one event in human history around which everything else revolves.
I know I don’t have to remind you, but never lose sight of the fact that Jesus Christ was born was to die. We do a great disservice to the gospel when we reduce the ministry of Jesus down to a few miracles and the fact that He was a good man and a good teacher who through some unfortunate circumstances got Himself into a mess and wound up getting crucified.
 
No!  Instead the Word of God clearly tells us that Jesus Christ was never trapped, He was never tricked, He was never surprised, He was never a victim, He went to the cross of His own design, of His own will because He was born for that express purpose.  And when we come to chapter 18, we are almost there. 
 
One other thing I want us to keep in mind.  Not only was Jesus born to die, but if you are a Christian, then this is your moment. This is what it's all about. For every saint, Old Testament and New Testament, the cross is everything. It's the pinnacle and we look at it from both sides. This is the peak of history. Every man who is ever redeemed looks to this peak for his salvation.
 
Now it is important to keep in mind that God’s purpose for John’s gospel is to present Jesus as King so in his presentation, John zeroes in those specific events in the life of Christ that cause us to see Christ as God in human flesh. His emphasis is on the divine side of Christ.  In fact, if you look at where we will arrive on Easter Sunday morning, you will hear John expressly voicing that.
 
John 20:31
 
His whole point is that we see Christ as God and we need to have that in mind as we begin. And for those of us who know the end of the story, that already makes it exciting, right?
 
Think about it:  There could never be in the life of a man anything more debasing and shaming than what Jesus endured.  He was arrested as a common criminal, betrayed by a friend, marched off to be humiliated, beaten, brutalized, ridiculed and then crucified, brutalized. That is the most debasing kind of thing that a human can go through.
 
But we know in the back of our minds that even though this is the account of the betrayal and the arrest of Jesus, all of that will work out OK because John is reminding us that Jesus is God.  So, it’s going to be alright.  And guess what we discover as we read?
 
What should be shame, what should be degrading, humiliating, and brutal instead turns out to be a presentation of the majesty of Jesus Christ without equal. It's one of the most magnificent passages you'll ever find. And you can read it through in a narrative sense and miss it all if you did not understand the point that John is trying to get across. This is a powerful passage of Scripture, and I promise you if you will stay with me this morning, you will know things from the Spirit of God that you never knew existed through this passage.
 
There are four preeminent features in these verses that show us the supremacy of Christ. Let’s look at them one at a time.
 
 
Now what I want to do is give you the feature, then give you a statement about how that feature is seen in the life of Christ.
 
The first one is
 
1. His Courage
 
verses 1-5
 
Notice, after He finished speaking, and that would be chapters 13 through 17, He and the disciples left the room where they were, crossed the brook Kidron to the Mount of Olives and went to the Garden of Gethsemane.  And as He entered the garden, He knew exactly what was going to happen. Not only did He know what was going to happen, He planned every detail of it.
 
Now it seems to that His courage is seen in His determination to go to the cross. There is a lot of nobility in dying for a cause, and down through the years there are lots of people who have died because they have believed so strongly in their cause.
 
But to purpose in your mind to go to a cross knowing that it means to You that all Your purity and sinlessness will be violated and that You will bear the sin of every man who ever lived, that You will be abandoned by the God with whom You have been face to face throughout all eternity, that kind of courage is infinitely supreme courage beyond anything a human being could ever show.
 
The Bible tells us that Jesus set His face to go to the cross.  And when the time comes, He begins that journey without hesitation.  He is not trapped.
He is not tricked. He is not surprised. He purposes to do it because He is to die for those who will receive Him and believe. And that’s why I speak of His courage.
 
Now I've thought about some interesting things at this point. As Jesus was leaving Jerusalem on this night it was Passover season. And at Passover season the pilgrims had moved into the city from all over the place.  Tens and tens of thousands of them had come for Passover. So Jerusalem was bulging with people and they were all there, primarily, to offer a sacrifice.
 
That means there were lambs being slain incessantly during those days. In fact, thirty years after Christ, historians tell us that there were as many as 256 thousand lambs slain at Passover in Jerusalem.  Now you can imagine what kind of mess the slaughter of a quarter million sheep would create, especially since they all had to be offered on the same altar.  That means there was blood running everywhere.
 
In fact, the Jews had provided for that by building a trough which ran from the temple ground which sat immediately at the top of the valley of Kidron to the Kidron Brook.
 
I think there is no doubt that as Jesus was leaving the city of Jerusalem on that last night and stepped across the brook, He looked down and He saw in that brook the red blood of all the lambs that were being slain for the sins of the people. And no question about it, His mind must have become very vivid with His own sacrifice that was to come.
 
And then, as Jesus continued up the other side, He came to the little garden called Gethsemane.  It means "oil‑press". It was there that those olives would be pressed and the oil would flow and be collected.  And they would use that oil for cooking and medicine and worship.  And there where His body would be pressed as He prayed, much like those olives would be drained, we are told He begin to perspire great drops of blood.
 
And in just a little while, Judas would show up to betray Him with the kiss.  Judas knew all about that Garden and how Jesus went there to pray.   Jesus and His disciples had gathered there many times.
 
And on that night, Jesus steps over a bloody Kidron brook into a place where His body would be pressed by the weight and pressure of sin to be betrayed with the kiss of a friend and He knew it all beforehand.
 
Now from a human, logical point of view, that makes no sense at all.  Why in the world would He go there?   I mean, if He knew He was going to get into this mess, of all the places He could have go, why did He go there?"
 
I guess we could say He went there because it was a familiar place of prayer and He wanted to talk to the Father or that He went there to rest and escape all the conflict and pressure.  Or maybe He went there just to spend some sweet time of fellowship with His friends.  But we know while all that’s true, that doesn’t tell the whole story.
 
Because we know the real reason He went there is because He knew Judas would be there and He knew the soldiers would be there and He wanted to be sure that it would be very easy for them to arrest Him.
 
We see that in verse 2
 
Why do you suppose the Bible includes that little detail?  It says that because that's the reason Jesus went there.  He went there because He knew Judas knew that’s where He’d be.
 
In essence, Jesus is just making sure the arrest takes place.  He couldn’t do it in broad daylight in downtown Jerusalem.  There would have been a confrontation.  We are told many times, Jesus wasn’t arrested because the authorities feared the people.  Jesus was too popular for that.
 
He couldn’t do it in isolation.  He needed the disciples to see it and witness it.  If He had been off by Himself somewhere, they would have seen Him as a victim. So Jesus says, “Come with me, boys, you're going to see how it really is.”
 
So He gathers them together and He takes them over there so that in the quiet and the solitude of the garden of Gethsemane the arrest can take place without any disturbance and revolution and so the disciples can stand there and in calmness watch what happens and see that this is no victim but a victor.
 
 
 
 
And notice verse 3
 
Right on cue, the Romans soldiers come out to arrest Jesus.  Some estimate there were as many as 600 Roman soldiers in that garden that night, all of them armed with their heavy artillery.
 
In addition to them you have a great group of the temple police. We don't know how many of those. Say a hundred or maybe two hundred. Plus all the chief priests and the Pharisees and a whole mob and they all come to Christ and Judas is out front. I'd say that's a compliment to Jesus to send that many to pick up one Galilean carpenter and His friends.
 
And did you notice they come with lanterns, torches and weapons.  That tells me they came expecting to have to do an intensive manhunt under dangerous conditions.
 
But what do they find when they get there?  There He is standing right out in the open, and He greets them like He’s welcoming old friends.
 
And John tells us in verse 4 how that can happen.
 
Did you get that? That's His supreme courage. He knew exactly what was going to happen and He didn't wait for His enemies to get Him. He wasn't hiding behind an olive tree. He went out the gate and met them when they were on their way in.
 
He initiated the whole thing.  Judas didn't get to open his mouth. Before anything could happen, Jesus said: "Who you guys looking for?”
 
In fact, He went out to the gate as they were coming in to arrest Him.  He had seen them all the way. He had seen Judas in His omniscience get it all together. He had seen them all come out the gate, down the hill, up the hill, He walked right out and He met them.  This is the courage of Jesus Christ.
 
Then, while we’re in the neighborhood, take a look at verse 5
 
Now the end of verse 4 sounds like they're just repeating their orders, doesn't it? Whom do you seek? Some guy called Jesus of Nazareth. There is no recognition of Him as Christ or Messiah or God or anything. Just Jesus of Nazareth.
 
But look what it says in verse 5.
 
Notice the word “He” in that verse.  Notice anything about it?  It’s in italics.  Why?  Because it isn’t there in the best manuscripts.  He answers by saying, “I am.”
 
Who are you looking for? Jesus of Nazareth.  And Jesus answers, “Well you found God!”
 
Then look at this next little comment in verse 5
 
What is Judas doing there? Why doesn't he get out? He's got his money, why doesn't he just go?
 
I think for two reasons.  First, it shows what happens when Satan rules an individual. The activity of sin is senseless, incoherent, unprotective, stupid.
But I think beyond that, God wanted us to remember that Judas was there because of what's about to happen. And He wants us to know that Judas is in on it also to show us that Judas was just the part of the plan.  He had no power over Jesus whatever. In some sort of twisted way, some might want to make a hero of Judas.  Here he comes, marching in, bringing the army to capture Christ.  But he makes sure that we know that Judas is still there because of what happens in the next verse.
 
Because there we see, not only His Courage, but
 
2.  His Power
 
Verse 6
 
Do you see why he wanted us to know that Judas was there? He wants us to know that Judas has no power at all. All Jesus has to do is say His name and they all went down.
 
Can you imagine what that did for the disciples as they stood there watching that happen?  He wanted them to know about His power.  He wanted them to know that He was voluntarily, willingly laying His life down and that nobody was taking it away from Him. He wanted Judas to know and the whole Roman army to know and all the Jews to know that He was in control.  So He just said "I am" and woof ‑‑ a thousand people went down. By the way, He wants us to know also.
 
It’s comical to watch people try to explain away the power of God.  There are some commentators who say, "Well, evidently what happened here is somebody fell in the front and others tripped over them.”
These guys were professional soldiers!  They aren't stupid. They’re trained killers. They knew what they were doing and they fell down because of the power of the Word of God.  All He had to do was say His name, the name of God, and they collapsed on the spot.
 
There He stands, one, single unarmed lonely figure and they are an army, equipped and manned for war and He simply speaks His name and they collapsed. Now you tell me who’s got the power.
 
There flowed from Jesus such a power and such a commanding authority which made Him so infinitely strong that they couldn't even stand up in His presence. This is simply another sign by John to show us that this is no victim, this is Jesus Christ the majestic victor and He has everything in control. He revealed His power. And I think most of all for the delight and the faith of the disciples who would see that He was not a victim.
 
So we see His supreme courage and His supreme power.
 
Let me show you a third thing and that is
 
3.  His Love
 
Verse 7
 
The question comes the second time and they give the same answer.  These guys may be trained soldiers, but they are blockheads.   They have just picked themselves up off the ground and they've like nothing ever happened, they’re sill looking for a Jewish carpenter.
Maybe they thought what the liberals think that somebody fell over in front. But even the Jews make no comment about the fact that He identified Himself as God.  The stupidity of sin and rebellion is unbelievable.  I can’t help but think of that old line, “There is none so blind as those who will not see!”
 
But before you get too hot on their trail, look at your own life. How many times did Jesus knock you down and you got up in the same unbelief that you were in before you fell?
 
As a Christian, how many times have you been belted to the ground because of sin, gotten right back up and done it over again? That's where we live.
 
Listen, sometimes Jesus uses those things to try and awaken a man's heart and he gets right back up again and it doesn't make any sense. This isn’t anything new. It’s still going on today. People come to church, hear the Word of God, walk out and forget it and keep doing the same old things over and over again.
 
Or they go through trauma or tragedy or disaster in their lives and they come out with the same unbelief they had going in.
 
These guys have just been knocked flat at the mention of the name of God. So Jesus asks them again.  Why do you think He asked them twice?
 
Look at verse 8
 
 
 
Jesus twice makes them repeat their orders so that from their own mouths they state that they have no right to the disciples. Twice He makes them say that their orders are to get Him. Then He says, “All right then, let these men go.”
 
Does that sound like a victim to you?  Typically we don’t find the incarcerated negotiating the terms of the plea agreement.  It’s not usually the one being arrested who is making the stipulations.
 
In fact, He sounds more like a king issuing orders.  What a display of His power!  And here is the real beauty of that display.  His power is at work because of His love for them. 
 
He had to have the disciples there to see that He was no victim, but He had to have them released so that they could go on to carry the message. It’s all a part of the master plan. And in order for them to do His will, He had to protect them so they could be released and I will tell you there is no safer place to be than protected by the power of God to do the will of God.  And it is a constant resource for the ones God loves.
 
And in order to make sure of their safety He had them twice repeat that their orders were for Him alone and they had no business with the disciples at all but were to let them go. And so He protects His own.
 
Notice this picture.  On the one side, here's the enemy and on the other side, here's the disciples and here's Christ right in the middle. Don't you like that?
Jesus Christ isn't the kind of shepherd who rescues the lamb when it's half eaten by the wolf. He is the kind that gets out in front to meet the wolves before they get to the flock.
 
And so here stand Jesus, even in the midst of His arrest, displaying His protective love for His own.
 
Now, I want you to notice verse 9 because some really deep things here and I want you to hang on to this one.
 
Verse 9
 
He doesn't want them to be captured and it's as if He is admitting that if they are captured physically they will be lost spiritually. He says let them go their way, because if you take them I'll lose them.
 
You say, "You mean to tell me that if they had captured the disciples they would have fallen and lost their salvation?" Yes, I think that’s what He’s saying.
 
But you can't lose your salvation." That's right. So what, then, does this verse mean?  It’s really very simple.  Had the disciples been captured by the soldiers, it would not only have been a physical problem for them, it would have been a tremendous  spiritual problem.
 
What kind of faith did they have? Not that big; little tiny faith. They weren't ready for torture. Do you know what torture would have done to them?  It would have wiped them out. So, Jesus makes sure they're not arrested.
 
So, somebody comes along and says: "Now that shows that a man can lose his salvation.  If his faith is too weak and his test is too strong, then he’s doomed.   And Jesus had to step in and do a special thing to keep them from losing their salvation.''
 
And I say, “That’s exactly right.”  But what is proved by that is you CAN”T lose your salvation. Why not? Because Jesus stepped in and stopped the possibility of it.
 
See the point?  Theoretically, if they had been arrested, they would have gone down the tubes.  But Jesus said, “That’s not going to happen because I said all that the Father gives to Me shall come to Me and I am going to guarantee that I don’t lose a one so I can't let that happen.”
 
So, what appears to some people to teach that you can lose your salvation teaches exactly the opposite. Listen, my friend, there is no chance, no time in the universe, that you will ever lose your salvation. Jesus knows what would cause that possibility and He would never let it happen.
 
The only way you could ever lose your salvation is for Jesus to stop protecting you and that won’t happen because He loves you too much to let it happen.  If Jesus stopped keeping me I'd go to hell, but He keeps interceding for us. He never lets anything come our way that could destroy the relationship.
 
Isn't that a secure thing to know? And unfortunately, those who us who believe that are sometimes tempted to believe that means we can act any way we want to.
Instead of being humbly thankful to the Lord, we get to thinking we don’t need Him because we are such big stuff.  Want proof?
 
Look at verse 10
 
Now remember, the Lord is standing in the middle.  Nothing is going to get through Him to get to the disciples.  But all of a sudden Peter steps around Him and takes matters into his own hands.  
 
Is that not something?  Jesus has just gone through this explanation of how He’s going to protect His own, and now Peter draws a knife and starts cutting people’s ears off.  Maybe he misunderstood what Jesus meant.
 
I think he was aiming for his neck.  And I think next in line was the whole army.  He would take them all on if he had to. After all, Christ was right beside him and I'm sure he figured in his own mind, if I get into any trouble, I can just say, “I AM sent me!”  After all, it worked for Moses!
 
So he draws his sword and whacks off this ear.  And in a beautiful demonstration of the love of God, Jesus  reaches over and says, “Sorry, Malchus” and gave him another ear. He recreated his ear, gave him a new one. And He says to Peter, verse 11: "Put that sword up before you hurt someone!”
 
Now, I admire Peter's courage. You talk about taking God’s Word literally.  Jesus says He’s not going to lose one of us, then I’m killing me some soldiers.
He really thought he could handle it.  But he misunderstood what the Lord meant.
 
Now let me just focus your thoughts for a moment.  We’re talking about the protective love of Jesus.
 
There are two aspects of that love.  He not only stands between us and the danger but when we willfully get into the problem He comes and rescues us. Is that not protective love?
 
Has God ever intervened to protect you?  You better believe He has.  Has He ever gone to work to fix a mess you created?  Certainly.  So what does all of that say to us?
 
It says, first of all, none of us could ever be lost, not when we've got a Savior who cares for us like that. And once we are in His care, we are protected and even when we jump ahead of His protection, He follows along to clean up the mess and rearrange the circumstances to bring good out of it!
 
One final thin.  We’ve seen His courage, His power and His Love.  Lastly, be sure you see
 
4.  His Obedience
 
verse 11
 
You know what I wonder?  I wonder how many times the Lord has had to say to us in effect, “You need to get out of My way so I can do My work.” That’s what He says to Peter in so many words.  “Peter, this is what we've been planning since the beginning of eternity.  Don’t mess it up!  Just get out of the way for a minute and let it happen.”
 
Now before we close, I want you to notice the word "cup."
The idea of a cup in the Bible is very often associated with judgment.  The Revelation talks about the cup of indignation or the cup of wrath. And what He's saying is He's going to drink a cup full of God’s wrath.   That’s exactly what happened when Jesus went to the cross.  He drank a cup of God’s wrath. What was God upset about?  Sin.
 
And in reality, Jesus is saying, “Don’t you realize that I have to deal with the sin of the world? This is the plan, Peter.  I’ve got to go to the cross, and bear the sin and shame of the world or they will go to hell.  Do you really think I shouldn’t do that?
 
And I say what Peter didn't say:  Do it, Lord!  Please do it because we must have it done. And Jesus willingly drinks the cup. And, my friends, He drank it to the bottom.  He drained it dry!  He died our death.
 
Jesus will die even though the serpent will bruise His heel, even though God will turn His back on Him, even though His disciples will forsake Him, even though the crowd will mock and scourge Him, even though the Jews will cry "Crucify Him."   He will die. He will die in obedience to the Father's plan.
 
My friends, we have seen in this passage the majesty of Jesus Christ.  You see it in His courage, in His power, in His love and in His obedience.  But here’s the question:  Will it be seen in you? There are just two choices.  And unfortunately, one of them is seen in verse 12.
 
The other choice is to come to Him in faith and be saved.  Will you do that today?
 
Let’s pray.
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