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The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus


After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” 5They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. 7Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” 10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Jesus before the High Priest

12 So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. 13First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

Peter Denies Jesus

15 Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. 17The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

19 Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” 24Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Peter Denies Jesus Again

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

Jesus before Pilate

28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” 32(This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

Jesus Sentenced to Death

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. 39But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 40They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

1. When Jesus bad spoken these words. In this narrative John passes by many things which the other three Evangelists relate, and he does so on purposej as his intention was to collect many things worthy of being recorded, about which they say nothing; and, therefore, let the reader go to the other Evangelists to find what is wanting here.

Over the brook Kedron. In the Greek original there is an article prefixed to Kedron, which would seem to intimate that the brook takes its name from the cedars; 130130     Is Κέδρων, a proper name, or an appellative? Calvin does not mean that the presence of the article settles this question, but that it depends on the preference which shall be given to one or another of the various readings. If we read τῶν Κέδρων, it will be difficult to resist the conclusion that Κέδρων is the genitive plural of Κέδρος, a cedar; but if we read τοῦ Κέδρων, or rather, τοῦ Κεδρὼν, we must treat Κεδρὼν, as an indeclinable Hebrew word, though Josephus chooses sometimes to decline it, as in the phrase, χείμαρρον Κεδρῶνος, the brook of Kedron, (Ant. 8:1.) “Instead of the common reading, τῶν Κέδρων,” says Bloomfield, “four of the most ancient MSS. and six ancient Versions, with some Fathers, have,τοῦ Κεδρὼν, which was preferred by Beza, Casaubon, Campbell, Castalio, Drusius, Lightfoot, Bols, Bynmus, Reland, and others of the best Commentators down to Middleton, Kuinoel, and Tittmann, and has been received by Bengel, Griesbach, Knapp, Vater, and Scholz. The common reading, however, is strenuously, but not satisfactorily, defended by Lampe and Matthsei.” Our Author proceeds no further than to propose, τοῦ instead of τῶν, as a conjectural emendation; but Bloomfield has given a prodigious list of authorities on the same side. — Ed. but this is probably an error which has crept into the text; for the valley or brook Kedron is often mentioned in Scripture. The place was so called from its being dark or gloomy, because, being a hollow valley, it was shady, 131131     The Hebrew name קדרון (Kidron) is derived from קדר, (Kadar,) it was black, and signifies the black brook.Ed. on that point, however, I do not dispute: I only state what is more probable.

The chief thing to be considered is, the intention of the Evangelist in pointing out the place; for his object was, to show that Christ went to death willingly. He came into a place which, he knew, was well known to Judas. Why did he do this but to present himself, of his own accord, to the traitor and to the enemies? Nor was he led astray by inadvertency, for he knew beforehand all that was to happen. John afterwards mentions also that he went forward to meet them. He therefore suffered death, not by constraint, but willingly, that he might be a voluntary sacrifice; for without obedience atonement would not have been obtained for us. Besides, he entered into the garden, not for the purpose of seeking a place of concealment, but that he might have a better opportunity, and greater leisure, for prayer. That he prayed three times to be delivered from death, (Matthew 26:44,) is not inconsistent with that voluntary obedience of which we have spoken; 132132     On this point the reader will do well to consult our Author’s elaborate exposition and argument, Harmony of the Evangelists, vol. 3, pp. 226-234. for it was necessary that he should contend with difficulties, that he might be victorious. Now, having subdued the dread of death, he advances to death freely and willingly.

3. Judas, therefore, having received a band of soldiers. That Judas came accompanied by soldiers and by so large a retinue, is a sign of a bad conscience, which always trembles without any cause. It is certain that the band of soldiers was borrowed from the governor, who also sent a captain at the head of a thousand soldiers; for, on account of sudden mutinies, a garrison was stationed in the city, and the governor himself kept a body-guard, wherever he was. The rest were officers sent by the priests; but John makes separate mention of the Pharisee, because they were more enraged than all the rest, as if they had cared more about religion.

4. Jesus therefore, hnowing. The Evangelist states more clearly with what readiness Christ went forward to death, but, at the same time, describes the great power which he exercised by a single word, in order to inform us that wicked men had no power over him, except so far as he gave permission.

5. It is I. He replies mildly that he is the person whom they seek, and yet, as if they had been struck down by a violent tempest, or rather by a thunderbolt, he lays them prostrate on the ground. There was no want of power in him, therefore, to restrain their hands, if he had thought proper; but he wished to obey his Father, by whose decree he knew that he was called to die.

We may infer from this how dreadful and alarming to the wicked the voicc of Christ will be, when he shall ascend his throne to judge the world. At that time he stood as a lamb ready to be sacrificed; his majesty, so far as outward appearance was concerned, was utterly gone; and yet when he utters but a single word, his armed and courageous enemies fall down. And what was the word? He thunders no fearful excommunication against them, but only replies, It is I What then will be the result, when he shall come, not to be judged by a man, but to be the Judge of the living and the dead; not in that mean and despicable appearance but shining in heavenly glory, and accompanied by his angels? He intended, at that time, to give a proof of that efficacy which Isaiah ascribes to his voice. Among other glorious attributes of Christ, the Prophet relates that

he will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and will slay the wicked by the breath of his lips,
(Isaiah 11:4.)

True, the fulfillment of this prophecy is declared by Paul to be delayed till the end of the world, (2 Thessalonians 2:8.) Yet we daily see the wicked, with all their rage and pride, struck down by the voice of Christ; and, when those men fell down who had come to bind Christ, there was exhibited a visible token of that alarm which wicked men feel within themselves, whether they will or not, when Christ speaks by his ministers. Besides, as this was in some measure accidental to the voice of Christ, to whom it peculiarly belongs to raise up men who were lying in a state of death, he will undoubtedly display toward us such power as to raise us even to heaven.

7. He therefore asked them again. Hence it appears what is the powerful effect of that blindness with which God strikes the minds of wicked men, and how dreadful is their stupidity, when, by a just judgment of God, they have been bewitched by Satan. Oxen and asses, if they fall, are touched with some kind of feeling; but those men, after having had an open display of the divine power of Christ, proceed as fearlessly as if they had not perceived in him even the shadow of a man; nay, Judas himself remains unmoved. Let us learn, therefore, to fear the judgment of God, by which the reprobate, delivered into the hands of Satan, become more stupid than brute beasts. Nor can it be doubted that Satan hurried them on, with wild fury, to such a desperate hardihood; for there is no insanity that drives a man with such viohnee as this kind of blindness; Wicked men, after having been given over to a reprobate mind, (Romans 1:28,) care no more about rushing against God than if they had only to do with a fly. They feel his power, indeed, but not so as to be disposed to obey; for sooner will they be broken a hundred times than they will yield. In short, their malice is a veil to hinder them from observing the light of God; their obstinacy renders them harder than stones, so that they never suffer themselves to be subdued.

8. I have told you that it is I. Here we see how the Son of God not only submits to death of his own accord, that by his obedience he may blot out our transgressions, but also how he discharges the office of a good Shepherd in protecting his flock. He sees the attack of the wolves, and does not wait till they come to the sheep which have been committed to his care, but immediately goes forward to guard them. Whenever, therefore, either wicked men or devils make an attack upon us, let us not doubt that this good Shepherd is ready 133133     “Que ce bon Pasteur ne soit prest.” to aid us in the same manner. Yet by his example Christ has laid down to shepherds a rule which they ought to follow, if they wish to discharge their office in a right manner.

9. I have lost none. This passage appears to be inappropriately quoted, as it relates to their souls rather than to their bodies; for Christ did not keep the apostles safe to the last, but this he accomplished, that, amidst incessant dangers, and even in the midst of death, still their eternal salvation was secured. I reply, the Evangelist does not speak merely of their bodily life, but rather means that Christ, sparing them for a time, made provision for their eternal salvation. Let us consider how great their weakness was; what do we think they would have done, if they had been brought to the test? While, therefore, Christ did not choose that they should be tried beyond the strength which he had given to them, he rescued them from eternal destruction. And hence we may draw a general doctrine, that, though he try our faith by many temptations, still he will never allow us to come into extreme danger without supplying us also with strength to overcome. And, indeed, we see how he continually bears with our weakness, when he puts himself forward to repel so many attacks of Satan and wicked men, because he sees that we are not yet able or prepared for them. In short, he never brings his people into the field of battle till they have been fully trained, so that even in perishing they do not perish, because there is gain provided for them both in death and in life.

10. Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it. The Evangelist now describes the foolish zeal of Peter, who attempted to defend his Master in an unlawful manner. Boldly and courageously, indeed, he incurs great risk on Christ’s account; but as he does not consider what his calling demands, and what God permits, his action is so far from deserving praise, that he is severely blamed by Christ. But let us learn that, in the person of Peter, Christ condemns every thing that men dare to attempt out of their own fancy. This doctrine is eminently worthy of attention; for nothing is more common than to defend, under the cloak of zeal, every thing that we do, as if it were of no importance whether God approved, or not, what men suppose to be right, whose prudence is nothing else than mere vanity.

If we saw nothing faulty in the zeal of Peter, still we ought to be satisfied on this single ground, that Christ declares that he is displeased with it. But we see that it was not owing to him that Christ did not turn aside from death, and that his name was not exposed to perpetual disgrace; for, in offering violence to the captain and the soldiers, he acts the part of a highwayman, because he resists the power which God has appointed. Christ having already been more than enough hated by the world, this single deed might give plausibility to all the calumnies which his enemies falsely brought against him. Besides, it was exceedingly thoughtless in Peter to attempt to prove his faith by his sword, while he could not do so by his tongue. When he is called to make confession, he denies his Master; and now, without his Master’s authority, he raises a tumult.

Warned by so striking an example, let us learn to keep our zeal within proper bounds; and as the wantonness of our flesh is always eager to attempt more than God commands, let us learn that our zeal will succeed ill, whenever we venture to undertake any thing contrary to the word of God. It will sometimes happen that the commencement gives us flattering promises, but we shall at length be punished for our rashness. Let obedience, therefore, be the foundation of all that we undertake. We are also reminded, that those who have resolved to plead the cause of Christ do not always conduct themselves so skilfully as not to commit some fault; and, therefore, we ought the more earnestly to entreat the Lord to guide us in every action by the spirit of prudence.

11. Put up thy sword into the sheath. By this command Christ reproves Peter’s action. But we must attend to the reason, which is, that a private individual was not permitted to rise in opposition to those who had been invested with public authority; for this may be inferred from the other three Evangelists, who relate Christ’s general declaration,

He who strikes with the sword shall perish by the sword,
(Matthew 26:52.)

We must also beware of repelling our enemies by force or violence, even when they unjustly provoke us, except so far as the institutions and laws of the community admit; for whoever goes beyond the limits of his calling, though he should gain the applause of the whole world, will never obtain for his conduct the approbation of God. 134134     The reader will find our Author’s views on this subject stated fully in the Harmony of the Evangelists, vol. 3, page 244.

Shall I not drink the cup which my Father hath given to me? This appears to be a special reason why Christ ought to be silent, that he might be led as a lamb to be sacrificed, (Isaiah 53:7;) but it serves the purpose of an example, for the same patience is demanded from all of us. Scripture compares afflictions to medicinal draughts; for, as the master of a house distributes meat and drink to his children and servants, so God has this authority over us, that he has a right to treat every one as he thinks fit; and whether he cheers us by prosperity, or humbles us by adversity, he is said to administer a sweet or a bitter draught. The draught appointed for Christ was, to suffer the death of the cross for the reconciliation of the world. He says, therefore, that he must drink the cup which his Father measured out and delivered to him.

In the same manner we, too, ought to be prepared for enduring the cross. And yet we ought not to listen to fanatics, who tell us that we must not seek remedies for diseases and any other kind of distresses, lest we reject the cup which the Heavenly Father 135135     “Le Pere Celeste.” presents to us. Knowing that we must once die, (Hebrews 9:27,) we ought to be prepared for death; but the time of our death being unknown to us, the Lord permits us to defend our life by those aids which he has himself appointed. We must patiently endure diseases, however grievous they may be to our flesh; and though they do not yet appear to be mortal, we ought to seek alleviation of them; only we must be careful not to attempt any thing but what is permitted by the word of God. In short, provided that this remain always fixed in our hearts, Let the will of the Lord be done, (Acts 21:14,) when we seek deliveralice from the evils which press upon us, we do not fail to drink the cup which the Lord has given to us.

12. Then the band of soldiers and the captain. It might be thought strange that Christ, who laid the soldiers prostrate on the ground by a single word, now allows himself to be taken; for if he intended at length to surrender to his enemies, what need was there for performing such a miracle? But the demonstration of divine power was advantageous in two respects; for, first, it serves to take away the offense, that we may not think that Christ yielded as if he had been overcome by weakness; and, secondly, it proves that in dying he was altogether voluntary. So far as it was useful, therefore, he asserted his power against his enemies; but when it was necessary to obey the Father, he restrained himself, that he might be offered as a sacrifice. But let us remember that the body of the Son of God was bound, that our souls might be loosed from the cords of sin and of Satan.

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