Betrayal and Arrest - Mark 14:43-52

After Jesus prayed desperately for a reprieve for what was about to happen, and after the disciples—His closest friends—left Him in His time of need, Judas arrived with guards in tow (v. 43). Can you imagine Peter, James, and John’s initial confusion? Jesus had just said that His betrayer was coming (v. 42) and up walks Judas. Maybe they already had an inkling that Judas could not be trusted. But that is doubtful. Earlier in this chapter, right after Jesus institutes the Lord ’s Supper, He tells them He will be betrayed (v. 18). They were all confused (v. 19). They did not all turn and stare at Judas; instead they all said, “You don’t mean me, do you?” He told them, “It is one of you; one who is very close to me” (v. 20). (The statement in verse 20 about “the one who dips his hand with me in the bowl” most likely only emphasized that one of the 12 who had just shared food with Him would betray him. It was not said while Judas and Jesus both shared a bowl.)

Judas betrayed Jesus. There is much about Judas’ story that we would like to know, but there is much we are not told. We do know that Jesus was fully aware that Judas would betray Him. Yet He allowed it to happen because prophecy had to be fulfilled (Matt. 27:9).

With the other three disciples confused, and Jesus standing confidently, Judas walks up and pays Jesus respect by kissing Him (a sign of greeting) and using a term of respect and admiration, “my teacher/rabbi” (v. 45). This was the sign the guards were waiting for – they jumped into action and seized Jesus (v. 46).

Then Peter (John 18:10) drew a sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s slave. This was a small sword (or a large knife). In other words this was more along the lines of Crocodile Dundee’s knife, not a dueling sword. (Pardon the movie reference – but it does allude to one of the greatest movie lines of all times.) This makes me wonder – why did Peter have a sword? I do not believe it was common to carry around a small sword; after all they did not have pockets and this was no pocket knife. Perhaps, just perhaps, Peter had decided to carry it to protect Jesus since Jesus had been preparing them for the suffering He would face. Whether Peter had come prepared for this moment or just took advantage of the opportunity, it was not what Jesus wanted and He healed the ear (Luke 22:51).

Jesus went with them peaceably. He even chides them for coming to capture Him with weapons (v. 48). He was not a criminal barricaded in safety, nor did He flee from them. Their show of force was unnecessary. But, Jesus told them, “You’re doing this because prophecy must be fulfilled.” The prophecy referred to here is Isaiah 53:7-12 (which we read in week 2 of these devotionals).

Verses 50-52 are sad. These three disciples, the ones who were the closest to Jesus, the ones who had learned the most, fled. They high-tailed it out of there. One, in his haste to escape from the guards left his clothing behind in the hands of his would be captor.

Thoughts to Ponder
Unlike other weeks where we tended to focus on more uplifting thoughts – the events of this week leave us sad. Yes, we know the rest of the story; but that should not negate our sorrow as we read these accounts. Allow yourself to experience the depths of pain this week. While we know the pain and suffering did not last, we need to remember what Jesus went through.