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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
June 9, 2019
Traitors are known throughout history. There have always been and always will be those who will turn on their friends for their own gain. In American History no name is more synonymous with the term traitor than Benedict Arnold. But even he pales by comparison with who is by far the most tragic figure in human history – Judas Iscariot. No man no matter how evil is seen as being as despicable as Judas. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao are despised for their mass murders and destruction of nations, but not even their treachery compares to Judas.
Betrayal is an act of treachery in which the trust you place in someone is then used against you. The severity of the betrayal is directly related to the closeness of the relationship and the harm done. Buying a product based on the exaggerated claims of the salesman is not as bad as someone breaking a confidence and embarrassing you, which is not nearly as bad as a friend purposefully joining with your enemies in order to get his own way. King David experienced this and expressed the turmoil of his soul in Psalm 41:7 and Psalm 55:12-14. His hurt was great because it was a close friend, Ahithophel, that betrayed him.
Judas is the ultimate betrayer, the epitome of a traitor, because his act is contrasted with the privileges he received. Judas was one of only 12 disciples the Lord Jesus Christ picked to travel with Him during His few short years of ministry on Earth. He was a firsthand witness to Jesus’ compassion and saw many of Jesus’ miracles demonstrating His power over nature, disease, sickness, demons, sin and death. Judas heard Jesus’ teaching over and over again. He was close enough to become the trusted treasurer and personal friend of Jesus. That is why Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is the worst of the worst.
We pick up the story of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in Matthew 26:47, Mark 14:43, Luke 22:47 and John 18:2. Jesus and His disciples are on the western slope of the Mount of Olives directly across the Kidron valley from the Temple mount. They are in the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus has in His humanity poured out His soul to the Father. He was passionate for the cup He was about to drink was repulsive. He who knew no sin would be made sin on behalf of man that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Bearing man’s sin would require the Father turning His back on the Son and Jesus did not want to experience that unless there was no other way. The emotion of the moment was so strong that the stress of it burst the capillaries in His skin and the blood mingled with the sweat pouring off Him. Yet, Jesus remained in complete control of His own will and yielded it in complete submission to the Father’s will to undergo whatever was necessary to accomplish that. “Not My will, but Thine be done.” (See: In The Garden of Gethsemane). After Jesus finished praying the third time, He woke up the sleeping disciples telling them, 45 Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46“Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”
John 18:2-3, “Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place; for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. 3 Judas then, having received the [Roman] cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, ^came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.” Matthew 26:47 describes the arrival of the mob at Gethsemane. “And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up, accompanied by a great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people.”
I call this group a “mob” because it consisted of a lot more than just the arresting officers and Judas who was to point Jesus out to them. Mark and Luke describe this mob as a “crowd” and Matthew as a “great multitude.” Included in this mob are the chief priests who originally made the arrangement with Judas for the betrayal of Jesus. The elders of the people have joined in and Mark’s account adds that the scribes are also there. John adds the Pharisees to the list and specifically points out there was a cohort of soldiers along with “officers from the chief priests” who are the Temple guards. A cohort of soldiers was 600 men. Add to that the mob of temple guards, chief priests, elders, scribes, and Pharisees. If the whole cohort was present, there could have been 700 or more men in the group. Even if it was only a portion of the cohort, it would still have been hundreds who went out to arrest Jesus – indeed, a great multitude.
Were they all needed to arrest Jesus? No. The soldiers were there because they were commanded to be there, but the rest came along because they wanted to see Jesus finally arrested. They wanted to witness first hand the scene so they could savor the moment when their enemy was finally seized. That is one reason why I refer to this group as a mob. A mob does not form from those needed for the action to be taken, it forms out of those who want to join along to see.
I also call it a mob because it demonstrated the cowardly nature of those in a mob. They band together to create a sense of security because individually they are afraid. The soldiers had been trained for war, so I don’t think they were afraid, but those coming with them would have been afraid without the presence of the rest of the mob. It would not take many soldiers to arrest one man or even whole group of twelve if that were needed. So why a cohort of them?
The chief priest would have had to work hard to get Pilate to allow the use of Roman soldiers to go arrest Jesus. Surmising from the trial held the next day, Pilate was probably told that Jesus was an insurrectionist and would need to be subdued quietly so that the multitudes in Jerusalem would not be aroused. It is reasonable then to assume that Pilate agreed to send the soldiers because he would not want to have risked such an uprising when Jerusalem was so crowded for Passover.
The soldiers would have been carrying their swords and the rest may have had a mixture of swords and clubs. John adds that they were also carrying lanterns and torches. They avoided arresting Jesus during the day because they were afraid of the people, and evil desires the cover of darkness and does not like to be exposed in the light. It is now late at night and the moon had either set or was low in the horizon. Torches would have helped to prevent them from stumbling in the shadows and also search for Jesus if He tried to hide. But Jesus is the light and John 18:4-9 makes it clear that Jesus went out to meet them instead of hiding because He was still in control.
John 18:4 records that Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him went forth, and said to them, “whom do you seek?” Jesus knew who they were and why they had come, so He went out to meet them without fear for He had prayed about what was now happening and was now set on fulfilling the Father’s will.
John 18:5-6, They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” He said to them, “I am.” And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. When therefore He said to them, “I am,” they drew back, and fell to the ground.”
Jesus’ self identification shows that Judas was not needed by the mob. Judas’ bargain with the chief priests was to let them know when Jesus would be away from the multitudes so that they could arrest Him quietly. Judas had done that, but they had brought him along so that he could identify Jesus in the darkness for them. It was bad enough that Judas had betrayed Jesus to the chief priests, it is much worse the he went with the mob to identify Jesus. Judas would later regret what he did, but at this point we must remember that Satan had entered into him when he left the Passover meal to betray Jesus.
Jesus demonstrates in this exchange that He is the one that is actually in control of the situation. Jesus confronts them and forces them to identify whom they sought. They responded, “Jesus of Nazareth.” They were a group of many armed men, but they were no match for Jesus’ power. Jesus’ identification of Himself as “I am,” caused them all to fall backward to the ground. What a sight that must have been! What was going through their minds, and especially Judas, as they picked themselves up off the ground? By using the term, “I am,” Jesus may have been the revealing Himself as God, and that conclusion is supported by the fact that the mob fell down when He did. If any of them had really considered that they had just been knocked over by the power of God, they would have fled, instead they get up and brush themselves off.
Jesus Protects His Own – John 18:7-9
7 Again therefore He asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am [He]; if therefore you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 that the word might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one.”
Jesus takes initiative again and asks them a second time whom they were seeking. There is little doubt that this armed mob was prepared to arrest everyone associated with Jesus. Mark 14:51-52 even records one of Jesus’ followers escaping after an effort to seize him. By having them identify that it is only Jesus the Nazarene they were seeking, Jesus forced them to concede into letting all the rest go.
This was in keeping with the prophecy that Jesus would lose none of those the Father had given to Him. This is not a reference to keeping them out of prison or even harms way. They would certainly endure that in the future. It is in keeping with God not allowing us to go through anything that is too great for us to bear at the time. He does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but provides the way of escape. In this case, the arrest of the disciples at this time would have been too much for them. He provides a way of escape for them. They would be able to endure arrest and persecution in the future after the resurrection, but not before.
God is still faithful to this promise to us made in 1 Corinthians 10:13. While He allows us to get into scary situations, He knows our limits and will not push us past them. Yet, as we endure each situation, our faith becomes stronger and we can endure more. God knows us better than we know ourselves.
Matthew 26:48, Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, “Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one; seize Him.” And immediately he went to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
Judas comes acting like a friend. The sign would be a kiss, which is still a common greeting in the Middle East. A slave would kiss the master’s feet. A servant would kiss the person’s hand. Friends would kiss each other’s cheek and close friends would embrace and kiss both cheeks. It was a sign of close affection and love.
Judas calls out a respectful greeting, “Hail Rabbi,” the equivalent of “Hello Teacher.” Judas then comes up to Jesus and kisses Him. The Greek word for kiss here (katafilevw / kataphile ) is an intensified form of the word used in the previous sentence (filevw / phile ). The amplified version brings out its meaning well, “And he embraced Him and kissed Him with pretended warmth and devotion.”
If you or I had been in Jesus place at this point, we would have been revolted by Judas’ kiss. We would have backed away from Judas and refused to receive it. Luke records that Jesus first said to Judas, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Jesus was not being fooled for He knew exactly what Judas was doing and let him know that, and yet He accepted Judas’ greeting and kiss.
Jesus extends grace to Judas even during his act of betrayal. The gospel writers refer to him as “one of the twelve” even at the point of his betrayal, and Jesus refers to him as “friend” or maybe better translated as “comrade” or “companion” in Matthew 26:50. We sense that Jesus would forgive Judas even at this point if he would seek it.
Why a friend and why a kiss? Both serve to heighten the evil of what Judas did and reveal the wickedness of man’s heart.
But before we get too hard on Judas it would be good to consider the last verse of Michael Card’s song, Traitor’s Look.
Now Judas don’t you come too close, I fear that I might see, the traitor’s look upon your face, might look too much like me. Cause just like you, I’ve sold the Lord, and often for much less, and like a wretched traitor, I betrayed Him with a kiss.
I wonder how many have aligned themselves with Jesus or even made professions of faith in Him, not because they actually believe in Him, but because they thought they could gain some earthly benefit from Him – if not health, wealth and prosperity, then at least some business contacts? Things go fine until they realize that the Christian life is a demanding life. The world will hate you. Your will must become submitted to God’s will. Christian fun does not include the pleasures of sin. A Christian’s first priority is serving the Lord and that costs both time and money.
I know from past experience that in a group this size some here today will become like Judas. You make a fine profession of faith now, but at some point you will become disillusioned with Christ either because of hardship or just not getting what you want. You will end up denying the Lord and become His enemy whether active or passive. If you do not become a blatant apostate, you will reject the Jesus of the Bible that makes demands of holiness in your life for a different Jesus that will give you want you want, and you will hate those who do follow Jesus and call you to account. I have seen this over and over again. Judas is the epitome of those who once followed after Christ, but finally chose their own way over His, and turning their backs on the Lord, they walk away and join with His enemies.
Jesus tells Judas in verse 50, “‘Friend, do what you have come for.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him.” These are the last words that Judas will hear from Jesus until he stands before Christ to be judged. Judas would have been better off if he had never been born (Matthew 26:24-25).
The mob now moves forward to seize Jesus. Luke 22:49 records, When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” John 18:10 gives us the most detail of what happens next. Simon Peter therefore having a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. The other gospel writers mention the incident, but do not mention Peter or Malchus by name. Perhaps to make sure there would be no retribution against him since they were written while Peter was still alive. John writes many years after Peter had been martyred so there is nothing to protect.
Peter had boasted that he was ready to die with Jesus and now he is ready to prove it. He might not be able to stay awake to pray, but he would do his best with his short sword. Possibly he thought he would do as much damage as he could before they got him, but more probable is that part of Peter’s courage came from seeing all of them fall to the ground when Jesus spoke. If he got in trouble, he could ask the Lord to knock them all down again.
Peter did not wait for Jesus’ answer to the question about striking with the sword. He just starts swinging at the closest person to him, which turned out to be the slave of the High Priest who was named Malchus. We can safely assume that Peter’s inexperience with the sword and Malchus’ quick movements were the only thing that kept his head from being cut off because Peter was not aiming for the man’s ear, and probably would have taken a second swipe at him if Jesus had not intervened.
Luke 22:51 records, but Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed Him. We find yet again that Jesus is the one in control. The situation could have quickly become very dangerous for the training of the soldiers would have been to pull out their own swords when they saw Peter swinging his sword. Jesus diffused the whole situation quickly by rebuking Peter and instantly putting Malchus’ ear back on and healing it, for which I am sure Malchus was very gratreful. Imagine what the soldiers must have been thinking as they watched this exchange. What manner of man had they come to arrest?
Jesus’ actions were a rebuke to what Peter was doing. Jesus then went on to explain the difference between man’s way and God’s way in fulfilling prophecy.
Matthew 26:52, Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. John 18:11 adds, Jesus therefore said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”
Man’s way is the way of the sword. It is to seize the moment, take action, and force others to submit. The purpose of a weapon is to either go on the offensive to force someone to do what you want, or it is used in defense so that you can continue to do what you want. Jesus points out that those who take the sword will perish by it. This is not an argument for pacifism, but a simple reminder of the standard God set back in Genesis 9:6, Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man. Those who murder are subject to capital punishment, and Peter would have committed murder if he had killed Malchus. Peter’s life was not threatened and the mob had the law on its side. Vigilante action is not justified. Paul put it plainly in Romans 13:4 in referring to government as a “minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil,” which is why “it does not bear the sword in vain.”
Peter had chosen man’s way. Peter was ready to use his own sword to prevent submission to the mob, but because he spent his time in Gethsemane sleeping instead of praying, he was not ready to fight God’s way. Jesus’ arrest and trial would be travesties of justice, but God was not out to lunch. He was still in control and knew what He was doing. Peter did not have the right to start swinging his sword.
The church has never advanced by the sword and every time it has tried it has harmed the cause of Christ. The Crusades began as a defense against Muslim aggression on Christians, but developed into wars to reconquer land instead of converting those lost in their sins and controlled by a false religious system. It lost its God given purpose. The church tried to use the sword to convert the pagans throughout Europe by forcing them to be baptized, but all that resulted was wet pagans that gave Bible names to their pagan gods and used Bible events as the excuse to continue their pagan celebrations. False conversions still leave the person condemned in their sins, but now inoculated against the gospel.
Jesus pointed out God’s way to Peter. If it was a matter of power, Jesus had plenty available as He points out in Matthew 26:53, “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? A legion is 6,000 troops. Twelve legions would then be 72,000 angels. And if one angel can kill 185,000 Assyrians soldiers in one night (2 Kings 19:35), imagine what 72,000 can do!
But God’s way is different. He does not have to resort to physical force to accomplish His ends. He is so powerful He can even use His enemies to accomplish His purposes. And so it is with Christ’s arrest, trial and crucifixion. Matthew 26:54, “How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way.” Jesus must drink the cup the Father had given to Him (John 18:11). Jesus had told all the disciples many times before exactly what was now beginning to take place. Peter is to be commended for trying to do something, but since he had not properly prepared himself spiritually, his very effort was a hindrance to the Lord whom he was trying to defend. God can only use us when we are in submission to Him. If we are not, then all our efforts are presumptuous and futile.
Jesus now turns His attention to the mob and rebukes them while declaring that they were only able to arrest Him now because it had long ago been declared as part of God’s sovereign plan.
Matthew 26:55-56a, At that time Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.”
The chief priests, scribes, Pharisees and Elders were probably gloating at this time. They had finally been able to lay hands on Jesus. They saw themselves as protectors of the people, defenders of the Mosaic law, and watchmen over the house of Israel. They were the opposite of what they thought of themselves. They were not brave for they came with a large force of armed men to capture an unarmed man who was not violent. They were not defenders of the Mosaic Law or they would have done something about Him while He was teaching in the Temple. They were not watchmen over the house of Israel because the reason they have come in the middle of the night is because they were afraid of the people. There not even very smart. They had not outmaneuvered Jesus by capturing Him in Gethsemane. They were unwilling pawns in the hand of a sovereign God who had declared long before through the prophets the events that were now taking place. They were unwittingly fulfilling the very Scriptures they refused to believe and follow. The only reason they were now able to arrest Jesus is because it was now Jesus’ time to fulfill those Scriptures in redeeming man from sin. This hour and power of darkness was theirs (Luke 22:53) by God’s design. God was using their evil intent to accomplish His righteous and gracious purposes.
The mob had only come for Jesus (John 18:5), and Jesus had already made provision for the disciples to be left alone, but they were still fearful. The end of Matthew 26:56 states, “Then all the disciples left Him and fled.” John 18:12-13 concludes, “So the Roman cohort and the commander, and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, 13 and led Him to Annas first . . .” Jesus would undergo a series of illegal and unrighteous trials. The disciples would go into hiding.
Mark 14:50-52 recounts an additional story that “50 they all left Him and fled, 51 And a certain young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. 52 But he left the linen sheet behind, and escaped naked.” The identity of this young man is left unknown as is the reason he was wearing only a linen wrap. The story is included because it gives further explanation of the fear of the disciples.
What Jesus had told them on their way to the Mount of Olives earlier that evening had now taken place. The disciples had fallen away. Out of fear of man they had run away from Jesus.
They had been unprepared and overconfident. They had confused good intentions with spiritual strength. They reacted based on their emotions rather than on truth resulting in them not taking Jesus’ promises to heart. Peter was brave, but he reacted according to the way of men rather than that of God. When Jesus is arrested, they devised their own way of escape rather than waiting for the Lord’s deliverance.
We are no different from the disciples, and we are subject to falling into the same traps of sin. If we do not take advantage of what God has provided for us to prepare ourselves – His Word and prayer – then we will also fall. As Proverbs 16:18 warns, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. 1 Corinthians 10:12 adds, “Therefore let him who things he stands take heed that he does not fall.”
There is only one model to follow in the story of this historical narrative. You do not want to be like any of the Jewish religious leaders who thinks he is serving God, but in fact has perverted the truth and is working against Him. You do not want to be like Judas who turned his back on the way, the truth and the life in order to pursue his own wisdom in fulfilling his own desires. You do not want to be like the soldiers and temple guards just fulfilling your necessary duties and not giving serious thought to what God has done for you and what He wants from you. And while there is much good in following the example of the disciples, you do not want to repeat their failure in not believing and trusting what the Lord has said. Do not rely on your emotions and own wisdom. Trust in the Lord instead.
The only model to follow is that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Be prepared for whatever may come against you by learning of God, believing what He says, and stepping out in faith to do His will instead of your own. Be spiritually prepared to stand against our adversary by putting on the whole armor of God and persevering in prayer. It is by these means that you can face the future with a confidence that God’s hand is upon you and that your life will count for eternity. If you do not have that confidence, then set your eyes on Jesus, learn of Him, and follow His example. Talk to any of our church leaders and we would be glad to help you do just that.
Betrayal is an act of treachery in which the _________ you place in someone is then used against you
Judas is the ultimate betrayer, the epitome of a _____for his act is contrasted with the privileges he received
Jesus and the disciples were in the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus had been intensely ____________
The mob consists of a cohort of soldiers (_____), Temple guards, chief priests, elders, scribes and Pharisees
Only a few were needed to arrest Jesus. The rest joined in to ____________ the sight
If Jesus had been described as an insurrectionist, then it was reasonable for _______to have sent the soldiers
Fear of the multitudes kept them from arresting Jesus in public during the day so they go at ______privately
John 18:4-6 – Jesus, _____________ all things, went out to meet them and identified Himself to them
Jesus was in _____________ demonstrated by the mob falling down when He identified Himself as “I am”
Jesus Protects His Own – John 18:7-9
Jesus had them concede into letting all the rest go fulfilling the _____________ that He would lose none
God is faithful to His promise to us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 in ___________the temptations we will undergo
Judas came as a friend with a greeting and a pretended _________ of warmth and devotion
Jesus let Judas know that He was __________ that Judas was betraying Him
Jesus’ use of “friend” for Judas (Mt. 26:50) implies he could have been forgiven even then if he ________it
Many have treated Jesus as Judas did – ______________ devotion later turning to rejection and betrayal
Take warning that your faith may be _________ that you may not become a Judas
This action proved Peter was ready to _______ for Jesus – though Jesus was there to rescue him if needed
Peter was not aiming for Malchus’ _________ – Jesus’ intervention stopped further action (Luke 22:51)
Man’s way is to seize the moment, take action, and __________ others to submit
Peter was not properly spiritually ______________, so he chose man’s way
Man’s way does not advance the Church because it loses its _________ or promotes false conversions
God is so ___________ He can even use His enemies to accomplish His purposes
God’s way is to be in ______________ to His will and do things according to His commands
The chief priests, scribes, elders and Pharisees were the ____________ of what they thought of themselves
They were NOT ________of the people, defenders of the Mosaic law, or watchmen over the house of Israel
They arrested Jesus only because He ___________it – God used their evil to accomplish His good will
What Jesus had said earlier now takes place – out of fear, the disciples _________ at Jesus’ arrest
Confusing good intentions with spiritual strength, they reacted on ____________ instead of truth
Do not follow your _________/ wisdom like the Jewish religious leaders, Judas, the soldiers or the disciples
Follow the example of Jesus to be spiritually prepared to ___________ trust God by submitting to His will
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times Jesus is mentioned 2) Talk with your parents about why Jesus was still in control at His arrest while the disciples ran away in fear.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the context of John 18? What do the other gospel accounts say occurred in the Gethsemane before Jesus’ arrest? Why was Judas needed by the Jewish religious leaders to betray Jesus? List the groups that were part of the mob that came to arrest Jesus. Why might Pilate have agreed to send a cohort of soldiers along to arrest Jesus? What is the significance of Jesus going out to meet the mob and identifying Himself to Him? In what ways does Jesus demonstrate that He is in control and not the mob? How does Jesus protect His disciples and fulfill prophecy? Why was Judas present? Why does he use a kiss to betray Jesus? What is the significance of the way in which Jesus responds to Judas? What is your own experience with those that end up being like Judas? Why does Peter strike with his sword? Why does Jesus tell him to his sword away? Why is John the only one that mentions Peter and Malchus by name? What is the way of man? Why can’t that advance the church? What is the way of God? How did Jesus demonstrate that? What is the significance of Jesus’ rebuke to the religious leaders and the multitude accompanying them? How did Jesus use their evil intent to accomplish God’s good purposes? Why did the disciples flee instead of fulfill the boastful promises they made earlier to never forsake Jesus? How can you keep from falling into the same type of sin? How can Jesus’ example at His arrest help you to overcome temptations and fears?
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