47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him,48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”
Observations & Reflections
While Jesus was still speaking [referring to speaking with the just awoken disciples] he was accosted by the crowds, led by Judas. When Judas goes to identify the messiah with a kiss Jesus makes it known to Judas that he is aware of what’s happening. Only the Lord knows what went through Judas’ mind at that moment. One can only assume that Judas began to sweat a bit. Either way, Jesus’ other disciples were not unaware of the events unfolding, however, they greatly misjudged how things were going to play out.
As previously mentioned, the disciples were still under the impression that there was going to be a battle in which Jesus summons the forces of heaven. It would appear that they were willing to start the war. That is, perhaps, another reason why Judas betrayed Jesus. Judas was likely a member of the newly forming Sicarii which sought to overthrow their Roman overlords by use of force and violence. Nevertheless, it appears that even after all of Jesus’ teachings that his followers still believed they were going to bring the kingdom of God by force.
It is here that Jesus makes his intentions of peace known to all by healing the servant’s ear. What is remarkable is that despite the healing miracle right in front of their faces, they still apprehended Jesus. Additionally, this is where Luke’s gospel alerts the reader to the root of the problem between Jesus and the religious elites.
Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? (Luke 22:53)
Jesus was aware that the religious leaders were trying to prevent a rebellion of the people. The Jews had rebelled against the Romans in 6 CE and even 25 years later there was a mountain of angst and anger towards the Romans. Shortly after Jesus was crucified there was another large rebellion as Caligula takes over for the deceased ruler Tiberius (Luke 3:1). However, Tiberius was not without problems during his reign. In 19 CE Tiberius forced about 4000 Jewish men to accept service in the guard and forced another untold number of Jews to be expelled.1 Another rebellion or feud against the Romans might result in an all-out war or another exile. Thus, the Jewish leaders were constantly on high alert against anything that might disrupt the fragile equilibrium of the area.
Nevertheless, this was the moment were the all the Jew’s hopes and fears collided. Jesus was either going to usher in the day of the Lord and his everlasting kingdom or he was going to be murdered by the leaders, dashing the hopes of all of Jesus’ followers and disciples. It should come as now surprise that once Jesus makes it clear that he is going to give himself up that many followers abandoned him.
[Featured image titled “The Kiss of Judas”, by Giotto di Condone, 1337]
1. [The Expulsion of Jews from Rome under Tiberius, Elmer Truesdell Merrill]↩