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The Arrest of Jesus in the Garden. John 18:1-12


Jesus in the Garden

Text: John 18:1-12  

Jesus is about to be arrested by the Roman authorities acting at the instigation of the Jewish High Priest.  He is in a garden, – Gethsemane.  v2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.  Jesus had spent the night there, praying, knowing what lay ahead, he prayed with great intensity, Luke 22:39-44    The peace of the night, and the darkness of the olive grove is about to be shattered by the noise of a band of men. They are coming to arrest Jesus of Nazareth, the creator and saviour of the world.  What can we learn about our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, from this nighttime incident, this violent arrest in the Garden of Tears? 

Let’s see…

GETHSEMANE – Image by Heather Truett from Pixabay

1 Jesus has Divine Courage . V3-4. 

Jesus had often told his disciples “do not be afraid”. John 14:27 He had assured them that in times of danger he would be with them. But now he was in danger and the disciples are with him – watching. How does he react?  See…

  • The opposition. Let’s think about what confronts the disciples that night.  There is…
    • A cohort of troops.  I used to think about the arrest of Jesus as being enacted by a handful of men.  The scriptures tell us otherwise. The Greek is σπεῖρα (speira) a company or troop, in this country we would call that a regiment; in the Roman army, that probably about 600 soldiers.   Then there’s…
    • A united opposition. Look at the diversity represented here in these verses.  There’s a Roman regiment of troops, with its officers and men, there’s the Jews, represented by members of the Temple Guard, attendants of the High Priest, there’s even a traitor, all ganged up against the Saviour, the very Son of God.    And they were…
    • A mob with a mission. I can picture their briefing before they marched out to apprehend this ‘dangerous fanatic.’  But look at the text, – Judas had procured this band of men from the High Priest… They were commissioned, detailed to do their duty.
    • A well armed and equipped mob. They came with weapons!  Luke 22:52  To arrest the Prince of Peace they came with clubs ad swords, 600 of them.  
  • The confrontation. What will Jesus do? The cohort of soldiers would be expecting resistance which they could quell with extreme violence.  Jesus simply walked over to the leader of the mob, and asked them who they were looking for.  He offered himself to be taken by them. He  went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?.  In the face of the most overwhelming danger, Jesus had COURAGE!

It takes courage to be a Christian, especially in these days when Christianity is well out of favour.  You will need courage, and you will know that our Saviour, whom we follow, who died on the cross for us, and calls us to die to sin for him, was our supreme example of courage.  

2 Jesus has Divine Characteristics

We speak of the ‘Attributes of God’ – those unique qualities and facets which make God who he is, and Jesus is the perfect embodiment of everything that God is!  We see some of those divine characteristics well illustrated here in the cruel darkness of the garden.  We see:-

  • His foreknowledge.  v4   He not only foreseen what would happen, but he planned it, for he planned our salvation from before the beginning of the world.  
  • His awesome presence. V5-6.  When Jesus informs them that they have found they one they seek after, the effect on the Roman regiment is astonishing.  John, an eye-witness, records that the whole cohort of soldiers, the high priest guards and officials all fell to the ground!  Why?  Because Jesus said “I AM (he)!”  In Greek just two words, ἐγώ εἰμί – I Am.  It’s the name of God, given tosses at the Burning Bush.  YHWH.  In those two words, he declared himself to be God Almighty, and that was the cue for the glory of God to render them all helpless before him.  1 Timothy 3:16  
  • His obedience. Now, think how, at that precise moment, when the forces of darkness were defeated, lying quivering and helpless before the Son of God, – God manifest in the flesh – we have to ask, why did Jesus simply not overcome them?  But that wasn’t the eternal plan.  Jesus had a mission, and this was part of it, to be obedient to his Father, to die for sinners.  V11   cf Philippians 2:8  

So, in the Garden, even as he is placed under arrest, Jesus demonstrates and reveals his Sonship, his deity, shows that he truly is God incarnate in the flesh.  Finally. 

3 Jesus has Divine Compassion.  V8  

It would be wrong to show how Jesus demonstrated his Godhood in Gethsemane, without mentioning his compassion, which is also openly on display here:-  He shows compassion 

  • For his followers. Even as he is being arrested, Jesus pleads for the life of his disciples, who are with him in the garden.  It was a fulfilment of prophecy which should encourage each one of us for everyone who is truly his, his elect, are his forever, – he will never let us go or lose us.  We are safe with Jesus.  It’s an intricate weaving through of his love and his sovereignty and his almighty power, John 10:27   We rest completely on that eternal promise.
  • On his enemies.   But Jesus demonstrates his love and compassion, not just for those who are his, but for the whole world.  He loves his creation – and so when Peter stretches forth his sword and strikes off the ear of Malchus, the High priest’s servant, Jesus makes the man whole again – he heals him.  Luke 22:50  

You see, that’s the point. All this suffering was for us. For me.  The Heidelberg Catechism in LD15, Q37, What do you confess when you say that he suffered? A. During all the time he lived on earth, but especially at the end, Christ bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.  Thus, by his suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice, he has redeemed our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtained for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life

© Bob McEvoy March 2021

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