50 – Betrayal and Desertion
And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” And they all left him and fled. And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
Have you ever been hurt by someone who said that they were your friend?
Have you any idea who the young man who escaped naked was?
It is one thing to be hurt by people who call themselves our enemies, but it is much worse to be betrayed by one of our closest friends. But that is exactly what happens to Jesus.
Judas, one of the disciples, one of those who knew Jesus best, comes with soldiers to arrest him. In case the soldiers do not recognise Jesus, and to try to avoid being too obvious in what he was doing, Judas had arranged a way of showing them who Jesus is. Like some sort of cruel joke, the sign would be a kiss! The whole thing is so horrible – Judas uses a symbol of affection and love in order to betray the Lord who deserves nothing but his love.
When they take Jesus, the disciples don’t know what to do. We learn in another part of the Bible that it was Peter who cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. It is certain that he was keen to prove to Jesus that he wasn’t going to leave him. But that is what happens. Every single one of them ran away and left their King. Mark mentions another person who was following Jesus, who had to leave his clothes behind in order to escape. We can’t be sure, but it’s very possible that Mark is talking about himself here but is too embarrassed to admit it.
As we read this sad story, it is easy for us to once again be judgemental of the disciples. But it is important that we do not deceive ourselves. If we had been there, would we have behaved any differently?
But this is the way things had to happen. Listen to the words of Jesus again. He understands and expects things to happen in that way. He almost suggests that there was no need for them to go to so much effort to arrest him. It was in order to die that he had come to the world in the first place.
Why do you think so many people with weapons came to arrest one man?
In what ways can we sometimes be ashamed of Jesus? Why don’t we need to feel like this?
for strength to be ready to die for Jesus, and to thank him for the fact that he will never betray you.