Following Jesus’ last Passover on Wednesday evening of Passion Week in the upper room He retired with His disciples to the garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives where He was accustomed to stay during the Jewish feasts. Although sorely tempted to escape the cup of suffering that was about to befall Him, through prayer Jesus overcame His own sorrow and distress to subject His will to that of His Father. It was this oil of His Holy Spirit for which He was pressed in the garden that would become available through the cross for our salvation, by the washing of regeneration and renewing unto eternal life, by being filled with and led by that same Spirit of self-sacrifice. Judas, who was earlier dispatched by Jesus from the dinner to fulfill the evil that had filled his heart (Joh 13:26-30), knew the place, and had now arrived with a mob from the Sanhedrin to arrest Him. Having arranged a sign to greet Jesus with a kiss to both identify Him and impede His escape, Judas’ actions clearly condemned him as guilty. And yet from Mat 27:3 it also seems that he did not expect Jesus to be condemned, perhaps expecting that He would manifest the power he knew Him to possess in order to establish the sort of worldly kingdom he envisioned. We understand then that his heart was as deceived as it was corrupt. How might this deception have caused Judas to misinterpret Jesus’ words to him in Joh 13:27, even to think that Jesus was onboard with what he was doing? What does this remind us about the truly evil nature of sin, that deceives by the allure of the world and misleads one to justify that what he is doing is good, when in fact he is doing evil and condemning himself in the process? And what does this again remind us about the nature of true salvation and what we are saved from? If we are not saved from our sins by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit (Tit 3:5), are we in fact really saved?
In spite of Judas’ deceived treachery, Jesus did not curse or berate him, but surrendered Himself as a lamb to the slaughter with a simple rhetorical question (Luk 22:48). That light of the truth exposed the darkness of Judas’ deed and in just a short time would become the source of eternal condemnation that like a worm that never dies would gnaw at his soul forever. But again, at that time, how might the deception of Judas’ sin have caused him to misinterpret Jesus’ question and His words in Mat 26:50, addressing him as Friend? What does Matthew record in this verse that happened next? How does that contrast with the many other times in the past when people had sought to seize Jesus, but were unable to lay their hands upon Him? See Luk 20:19, Joh 7:30,44. How does this help us to understand what it means that they “laid hands on Him”? Cf. Act 4:3, 5:18, 12:1, 21:27. What does the use of this term for holding one against their will also communicate about the natural state of every person to be free from the grasp of others? What does this imply about each person’s personal autonomy and the importance of obtaining one’s permission or informed consent to in any way lay hands on that person or invade their personal space? What is the spiritual significance that whereas earlier God had patiently prevented the religious leaders from stretching out their hand against Christ, now they were granted their desire and allowed to lay their hands upon Him? See 1Sa 24:6,10, 26:9,11,23, 2Sa 1:14; cf. 2Th 2:11-12. How does this help us to understand the truth of the statement that everyone gets what they want, but not everyone likes what they get?
Having been clearly identified both by His own admission (Joh 18:5) and by Judas’ greeting and kiss, as the mob was laying hands upon Jesus to seize Him, what did He say to them in regard to His disciples who were with Him in the garden, and why? See Joh 18:8-9. In what way was surrendering Himself in order that His followers might go free an encapsulation of the very gospel He came to establish as the cornerstone of God’s kingdom on earth? Although if we were in His circumstances our thoughts would likely have been focused only upon what was happening to us, what does His concern for His disciples at the time He was most distracted by the events taking place teach us about His unfailing faithfulness to those who follow Him? How much more can we count upon Him to watch out for us when He has emerged victorious from His trials that might have distracted Him, but didn’t, and is now seated at the right hand of God interceding for us? What word had Jesus spoken earlier to which John was referring in Joh 18:9? See Joh 17:12. What do His words there remind us about Him as the Shepherd of our souls, which we also see reflected here in the garden as He freely surrenders Himself and bids the mob to let them go free? Cf. Joh 10:11,14-15,27-29. How should He be an example in this way to those who would follow Him in shepherding the flock of God? See 1Pe 5:1-4.