Luke 22:47 – 53
47 While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; 48but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?’ 49When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, ‘Lord, should we strike with the sword?’ 50Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him. 52Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? 53When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!’
Even while Jesus is still talking, the night is pierced with the din of rattling armor, raised voices, orders called out in the night. Torchlight blinds their eyes, accustomed to the darkness. And as the crowd approaches, one steps out, and approaches Jesus. He intends to betray him with a kiss, but Jesus asks him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” Still, all these years later, we wonder why Judas betrayed Jesus – what inner devil prompted him? Was it greed, the thirty pieces of silver offered? Was it disappointment – had he expected Jesus to establish a physical kingdom and overthrow Rome, and finally discovered that was not who Jesus was, or is? Was he trying to goad Jesus into starting the war then and there? In all this drama, Judas becomes the tragic character, the only one who does not wait for the resurrection.
Those around Jesus suddenly realize what is happening, and one of them (other gospels say this was Peter) draws a sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. They had taken Jesus’ words about being prepared for hard times literally; they would fight back with the sword. That is a human response; it is always our first response. It is the response applauded in all the movies – I remember from many years ago a movie called “The Magnificent Seven”, about a group of seven outlaws who ride into a Mexican town and teach the people how to fight back against the outlaws who are attacking them. When has there ever been a movie that applauded the peace-maker? But Jesus said, “No more of this!”
And Jesus touched the man, and healed his ear. And he spoke to those who came to arrest him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” All week, they had tried to arrest Jesus – first they had tried to trick him into saying something against the emperor, then something for which the people would reject him. But Jesus had seen through their trickery, and had not fallen for their traps. And the crowds in the temple had grown, and the people loved Jesus. They could not arrest him in the temple, and risk starting a riot. Rome did not tolerate riots; the Roman soldiers were known to destroy entire cities in retaliation for a riot. And so, they had looked for a situation, a time, when they could arrest him away from the crowd. With Judas’ help, they had found such a time. Theirs was the time of darkness, of secrecy. Evil exercises itself in the darkness. Jesus was the light, and the darkness could not overcome his light, but on that night, he allowed the candle to burn low; he did not call on an army of angels. He would live, and die, as he had planned, for you.
picture is the Garden of Gethsemane