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Matthew 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-52; Listen
Luke 22:39-53; John 18:1-12
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
|36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?
41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.
43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
|32 And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray.
33 And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy;
34 And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.
35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.
36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?
38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
39 And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words.
40 And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.
41 And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
42 Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
|39 And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stones cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45 And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
|1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
Jesus heads from the supper to the Garden of Gethsemane. You will notice from John 18:1 that this is not the same occasion where Jesus prayed in John 17 (see notes). All the disciples went to the garden, but Matthew and Mark report that Jesus only took three of them (Peter, James and John) closer to the place in the garden where he prayed. It is worth noting that these disciples could not remain awake while Jesus prayed. These are disciples who, just a few hours earlier, had proclaimed that they would be willing to die for Jesus if necessary (Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:36-38 - see notes). Yeah! But can you stay awake for Jesus!
I think there's a lesson here. The test of discipleship is, first of all, obeying and following Jesus in the small things first. Matthew, Mark and Luke record the same comment by Jesus when he implies that the temptation to betrayal can be offset by prayer - not sleeping. Many Believers today are quick to declare the sacrifice that they are willing to make for the sake of Christ. Here's the question: Are you making the little sacrifices that demonstrate your love for Jesus Christ right now? Peter, James and John were admonished three times to "watch and pray," but they failed to do so. Is it any surprise, therefore, that they were also unwilling to stand with Jesus during his trials later on that night?
If Jesus is God (and he is), why is he praying? The answer is to be found in Philippians 2:7-8 (see notes), "But [Jesus] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." At this point in time, Jesus had emptied himself of his attributes of deity; he communicated with God in Heaven just as we do. The subject of the prayer: Is there a way to redeem the world without dying on the cross? NO! It's an intense prayer - to the point that Luke (the physician) records, "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." Luke's reference to blood here must mean that the sweat dripping from Jesus was in such quantity that it was similar to blood dripping from a wound. Yet, the disciples slept through the whole ordeal.
A couple of more observations are interesting here. John gives no detail regarding the prayer activities in Gethsemane. In fact, he was one of the sleepers in the garden; perhaps he did not witness very much there. Luke, on the other hand, is the only one to report that an angel came and ministered to Jesus there during his prayer. Luke received his eyewitness account from one or more of the disciples at a later date. Apparently all of the disciples could see Jesus praying, inasmuch as Luke reports that they were only a "stone's cast" away. Peter, James and John were closer.
By the way, we have seen Jesus gather these three disciples together for special events before. A year or so earlier, when Jesus went to the house of Jairus to resurrect his daughter (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56 - see notes), he only allowed these three of his disciples to accompany him into the house. Then again, at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36 - see notes), only these three of Jesus' disciples were allowed to witness that miracle. It's obvious that these three men had been selected for Jesus' leadership team among the disciples.
|47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.
49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
|43 And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
44 And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely.
45 And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him.
46 And they laid their hands on him, and took him.
|47 And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
|2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
John identifies the crowd in 18:3, "Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons." We see in John 18:2 that Judas anticipated that Jesus would go there because he had done so on previous occasions. You will recall from Luke 22:3-6 (see notes) that the agreement with Judas was that he take them to Jesus in a spot away from the multitudes so that they could take him without the notice of the common people. This isolated location in the garden was that opportunity.
Quite a crowd shows up to capture Jesus. John records, "a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. ." Matthew and Mark record them as "a great multitude with swords and staves." This angry crowd is taking no chances. Judas does the betraying, but John records that Jesus freely and openly acknowledges that he is the one for whom they are looking. John records that Jesus shields the other disciples from danger in verses 8-9. He notes that Jesus did so in order to fulfill his own previous words found in John 17:12 (see notes) when he prayed, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." Both Matthew and Mark report that Judas addresses Jesus as "master" (Greek: rabbi). This was a general title of respect and honor frequently used to acknowledge a person's accomplishments in interpreting the Jewish Scriptures. Matthew records in verse 50 that Jesus addresses Judas when he says, "Friend, wherefore art thou come?" The "friend" that is used to characterize Jesus' reference to Judas here is not the usual "philos" used for friend indicating affection between two people. Instead, Jesus refers to Judas as "hetairos," which simply means "comrade" or "associate."
We should observe that, while all of the disciples of Jesus did flee from Jesus that night, Jesus did encourage them to do so in John 18:8, "Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way."
|51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priests, and smote off his ear.
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
|47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
48 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?
49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.
50 And they all forsook him, and fled.
51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:
52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
|49 When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
52 Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?
53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
|10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priests servant, and cut off his right ear. The servants name was Malchus.
11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
Judas does the betrayal deed, but Peter takes his sword and lops off the ear of the high priest's servant, Malchus (John 18:10). Jesus returns the ear to its place and declares that his betrayal and capture are part of the divine plan. It's curious that only John records the actual name of the ear lopper.
Matthew 26:56 is an eye opener regarding Jesus' disciples - the ones who had earlier proclaimed that they would die for Jesus - when it says, "Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled." Mark says the same in verse 50. It's just most interesting to note that Matthew makes reference to himself (he was one of those disciples) when he records these words in verse 56.
Jesus points out to the angry mob ("a great multitude with swords and staves") how unnecessary it is for them to take him with this (seemingly) overwhelming force. Only Matthew makes a point to link Jesus' passive surrender to Old Testament prophecy when he says in verse 56, "But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." David, Isaiah and others had recorded prophecies concerning the suffering Messiah; there was no other way.
We should take notice of the fact that Peter was willing to fight to the death with Jesus; the sword/ear incident demonstrates that. Peter wasn't, however, prepared to passively stand there and surrender. Add to that the fact that Jesus requests that his disciples be allowed to leave without harm in John 18:8 (see above), and you can see why Peter's denial at this point wasn't such a glaring incident. However, later that night when Jesus was on trial before Annas and Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57-75; Mark 14:53-72; Luke 22:54-65; John 18:13-27 - see notes), Peter does make his infamous denial of Jesus that has caused him to be set apart from the other disciples.
Incidentally, "certain young man" of Mark 14:51-52 is only found in those two verses. Why did Mark only include this incident without explanation? Many have conjectured that Mark is referring to himself there; really, there's no way of knowing for certain.