THE LIFE OF CHRIST
In our last lesson, we covered John 17, which contains Jesus’ prayer for us to all be one as He and the Father are one. In this lesson, we begin with Jesus and His followers entering into the Garden of Gethsemane. The events we are about to look at are covered in all four gospel accounts. As usually, I will include the details from each account to give us the complete picture. Sometimes, this will require me to jump ahead in verses within certain chapters in order to keep the events that happened in order.
If you will remember, I stated in previous lessons that it is hard to tell from the events we studied in John 15-17 whether or not these things were said and done while they were still in the room after the Jesus taught them about the Lord’s Supper or if those things were said along the way to the Garden of Gethsemane. However, as I said before, the details of their location when these things were said are not really that important, but to me, it seems that were said in the room. Our next verse shows them going to the Garden.
John 18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered.
The Brook of Kidron is the name of a seasonal mountain stream and the valley through which it flows, between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives on the east (Friberg). The only time water would flow through it is when it rained. We will talk about the garden John mentions in just a minute, but notice Luke’s account:
Luke 22:39 Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him.
The Mount of Olives is where Jesus retreated to often as indicated by Luke. It was a hill full of Olive trees and it gave you a good view into Jerusalem. In this area was also the garden of Gethsemane.
Friberg says the following about the garden: Gethsemane; strictly oil press; name of an olive orchard on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem from the east
Also consider the following excerpt from the Truth for the Today commentary:
The traditional spot of Gethsemane is less than a half mile directly east of the Golden Gate – a walled garden, seventy yards square, which contains seventy-five or so gnarled olive trees. Present-day guides claim that the olive trees are those under which Jesus prayed, but, according to ancient historians, all the trees were destroyed when Rome besieged and then destroyed Jerusalem. It is true, however, that the present trees are very, very old (p. 443 The Life of Christ).
The next details we are going to look at comes from Matthew, Mark, and Luke because John is silent on the matter. I will mainly use Mark’s account because it gives a few more detail than Matthew, but they are pretty close to the same. However, we will see that Luke’s account only gives a brief description of what happens, but it does offer some details the other accounts do not. So, let’s begin with Mark’s account.
Mark 14:32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch."
Peter, James, and John had the privilege of being with Jesus on several occasions that the other apostles did not get to see. Jesus takes these three men with Him, but Luke tells us that He had them stay about a stone throw away.
Mark 14:35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."
Luke’s account says Jesus knelt down to pray and Matthew says He fell on His face to pray. Some might see a contradiction here, but it is not because it possible for Jesus to do all of these things at different times during His three different prayers. You might wonder why Jesus would pray such a prayer knowing that there was no other way for Him to save us all than to suffer a cruel death and take on the sins of the world on His shoulders, but we need to remember that even though He was both Deity and man, His Deity did not override His humanity. Don’t think for a moment that Jesus would not feel every ounce of pain and suffering. Mark told us that Jesus felt troubled and deeply distressed and that His soul was exceedingly sorrowful even to death.
So, we see Jesus doing what so many of us have done when we are under great distress, we pray to the Father. We can learn from Jesus that we don’t have the right to demand what God will do for us, but that we accept whatever His will may be. Even though Jesus knew there was no other option to His dilemma, His prayer to His Father would give Him the strength to press on to do what He knew He had to do. We should be the same. Isaiah said the following about Jesus:
Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Also, the writer of Hebrews says the following about Jesus:
Hebrews 5:7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,
Jesus serves as the perfect example for us to follow especially during difficult times in our lives. We must learn to trust in God and ask that His will be done even though we know that some things are most likely not going to change their course. We must adopt the same attitude as Paul who said:
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ1 who strengthens me.
We should certainly be thankful that Jesus did not give into the temptation to give up on His mission in life because if He did, we would all be lost with no hope of heaven. After Jesus poured out His heart to the Father the first time, we read:
Mark 14:37 Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? 38 "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." 39 Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. 40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him. 41 Then He came the third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 "Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand."
Mark tells us that Jesus ends up praying three different times and that He prays the same prayer, but between each prayer, He checked on Peter, James and John and found them asleep each time despite Him telling them watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. Before we start shaking our heads at these three men and their inability to stay awake, we need to explore Luke’s account as it gives us more information about Jesus and His disciples.
Luke 22:43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.
We are not told for sure exactly when this angel appeared to Him and strengthened Him or in what exact manner he strengthened Him. Perhaps, his appearance was a reminder of how the Father is there for Him. Even with the angel being there, Jesus was still in agony and prayed even harder. Luke, being a doctor tends to give us information that a doctor would give such as Jesus being under such distress that His blood became like great drops of blood. It is possible that Luke is describing how much Jesus was sweeting at this time, but it also possible this is saying that Jesus was sweeting blood because of His great distress. This is a known medical condition that could certainly happen to someone in Jesus’ state of mind. Either way, Luke stresses the point of hard this was on Jesus.
Luke gives another reason these men were falling asleep. It was because of their sorrow. Consider the following from The Schertz Lectures on Luke:
Luke has added that he found “them sleeping” for sorrow – that is, “on account” of their sorrow; or their grief was so great that they naturally fell asleep. Multitudes of facts might be brought to show that this is in accordance with the regular effects of grief. Dr. Rush says: “There is another symptom of grief, which is not often noticed, and that is “profound sleep.” I have often witnessed in mothers, immediately after the death of a child. Criminals, we are told my Mr. Akerman, the keeper of Newgate, in London, often sleep soundly the night before their execution. The son of General Custine slept 9 hours the night before he was led to the guillotine in Paris.” Diseases of the Mind, p. 319.
While this gives a good reason for them sleeping, they did not have to give into their sleep. It also shows how important it is for us to make sure that we are diligent in our prayer life so that we can overcome the temptations of this life.
Once again, let’s read part of Mark’s account:
41 Then He came the third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 "Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand."
Jesus always knew what was going to happen to Him and when. While He could have taken His disciples and ran away from this, as He did many times when the opposing Jews wanted to kill Him, this time was different because it was time for Him to be betrayed, arrested and crucified. So, He has His disciples get up and go meet His betrayer. What happens next, is found in all four accounts and each adds unique information. While I may not put this in perfect order, it will at least give you the complete picture of what was said and done: John’s account says:
John 18:2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Mark adds this:
Mark 14:43 And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now His betrayer had given them a signal, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely." 45 As soon as He had come, immediately he went up to Him and said to Him, "Rabbi, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.
Luke 22:48 But Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"
John adds this:
John 18:4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, "Whom are you seeking?" 5 They answered Him, "Jesus of Nazareth." Jesus said to them, "I am He." And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Now when He said to them, "I am He," they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Then He asked them again, "Whom are you seeking?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth." 8 Jesus answered, "I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way," 9 that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, "Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none."
John’s account does not record the betrayal kiss of Judas, but it does give us additional information the other accounts do not. We learned back in John 13 that Jesus already knew Judas was going to betray Him, and He was not surprised by this group of men that came to arrest Him. While these men came to seek Jesus out and possibly fight His men, Jesus approached them and took control of the situation.
Jesus knew what these men wanted, but He asked them, “Whom are you seeking?” They said they were looking for Jesus. Now if Jesus had wanted to live another day, He could have run and hid, or He could have lied about who He was. Instead, He boldly proclaimed “I am He.” The Word “He” is not in the original Greek, so Jesus is saying that He is the “I am” just as He claimed in John 8:58, which expresses His Deity.
We do not know how many soldiers where there, but Jesus’ boldness caused them to move backwards and fall to the ground. Some have suggested that a miracle caused this to happen. If it was a miracle, the Bible does not give us that detail. Again, Jesus asked them who they were looking for, and their answer was the same. For a second time, Jesus tell them that He is the “I am.”
He tells them He is willing to go with them voluntarily, but He wants them to let His disciples go so His saying would be fulfilled that He mentioned in His prayer (Jn. 17:12). Jesus’ example teaches us a great lesson. Jesus prayer in John 17 included several things including protecting His apostles. Jesus did not pray to God expecting Him to do it all with no action on His part because He understood that action is required on our part, which why Jesus was asking for His apostles to be let go. By the providence of God, this prayer was answered.
The next things that happen are recorded in all four accounts. In order to cover this, I will have to repeat a few things in order to give you the complete picture. Matthew tells us what happens after Judas kisses Jesus.
Matthew 26:50 But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.
Luke adds this:
Luke 22:49 When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered and said, "Permit even this." And He touched his ear and healed him.
Matthew, Mark and Luke only give us part of the story about this servant having his right ear cut off. However, John completes the story and gives even more details, which proves the point that if you want the entire story, you must look at every place the Bible talks about it.
John 18:10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. 11 So Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?"
Peter claimed earlier that He was willing to go to His death for Jesus, and Peter is proving his commitment. He pulled out his sword and cut of the high priest’s servant’s right ear. John is the only one that records both Peter’s name and the name of the servant. Although Peter’s actions were genuine, he did not understand what was going on because he was thinking of the physical things. Peter’s actions remind me of what Jesus had told Him earlier: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Mt. 16:23).
Jesus’ kingdom would not be won this way because His kingdom was not of this world (Jn. 18:36). As Paul wrote: “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). If Jesus had wanted to reign as a King on the earth, He could have called an army of almost 82,000 angels and all His disciples to fight for Him (Mt. 26:53). Jesus’ kingdom was a spiritual one, and it would be won by Him drinking the cup of agony that His Father had given Him. Those who claim there is still a future earthly kingdom have misunderstood these plain passages that teach the kingdom is not physical but spiritual.
Also, don’t miss the great miracle Jesus did here by restoring this servants ear, which is more proof that He is Deity. Matthew’s account tells us more details of what Jesus tells Peter after he cut off the servant’s ear.
Matthew 26:52 But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" 55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. 56 "But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.
Luke’s account adds:
Luke 22:53 "When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness."
Jesus is stressing the point that fighting for Him right
now is not a good thing because Scripture must be fulfilled. He points of that
if He really wanted to be saved from being arrested, which will lead to His
death, that He could call on 12 legions of angels, which is around 82,000. Some
have suggested He choose the number 12 because then there would be one legion
for every apostle and one for Him.
Then Jesus speaks to those who came out that night with the swords and clubs and makes the point that if they really wanted Him, they could have arrested Him any day He was in the temple teaching, but they choose this night to do their dirty deed. It truly was the power of darkness at work, but darkness would only win this battle, but never the war. Just as Zechariah 13:7 prophesied, His disciples fled. Mark gives us some unique information about this:
Mark 14:51 Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, 52 and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.
Some think this might have been Mark, but we cannot know for sure who this is or why Mark recorded it for us. Some have suggested that maybe they just laid hands on this young man to mess with him. Whatever the reason, this man ran off naked. Finally, we will look at John’s account:
Jn. 18:12 Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. 13 And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. 14 Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
Even though Jesus gave Himself up voluntarily, these Gentile men bound Him, which fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy (Mt. 20:19). Again, we do not know how many troops were there, but apparently this was an important arrest because the Captain was there. While Jesus was being bound, His disciples forsook Him and fled (Mk. 14:50).
Only John’s account mentions that Jesus was taken to Annas. Annas had been the high priest before, but he had been removed from that position by the Roman government. However, he still had great influence and many considered him as a high priest, which is why we find both Caiaphas and Annas being called high priest (Jn. 18:13, 19; Lk. 3:2). Lanely explains it this way:
According to the Mosaic law, the High Priest was the most important member of the believing community because he was the only one authorized by God to offer sacrifices for the sins of the community on the Day of Atonement (Exo. 30:10; Lev 16). This office was held by a descendant of Aaron and was passed on from father to son (cf. Exo. 28:1; Num. 18:1; 20:25-28). During King Herod's rule, however, the traditional pattern was often ignored as Herod arbitrarily dismissed and replaced the High Priest (Josephus Antiquities 15.51). From then on, and continuing during Roman rule, the office ceased to be lifelong and hereditary. The office of High Priest became wholly dependent on political authority. But because the office of High Priest was lifelong, the High Priest retained a good measure of power and prestige among the Jewish population even after removal from office. This provides some background for the situation reflected in John 18:13 where two men are regarded as having the authority of the High Priest. Annas was appointed as High Priest in A.D. 6 by Quirinius, governor of Syria, and was deposed nine years later by Valerius Gratus, prefect of Judea (Josephus Antiquities 18.26, 34, 95). Annas was succeeded by Ishmael ben Phiabia I (about A.D. 15-16) and then by Annas' son Eleazar (about A.D. 16-17). Following the term of Simon, son of Kamithos (A.D. 17-18), Joseph Caiaphas, who had married the daughter of Annas, was appointed to the office in A.D. 18 by Valerius Gratus. Caiaphas held the office until A.D. 36, when both Pilate and Caiaphas were removed from their respective offices by Lucius Vitellius, governor of Syria (Josephus Antiquities 18.89, 95) (J. Carl Laney, Moody Gospel of John Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), p. 318).
When John wrote that Caiaphas was high priest that year, he is pointing out that he was the high priest during the year our Lord was put to death. This is the same Caiaphas who spoke prophetically about Jesus’ death earlier (Jn. 11:49-51).
Well, that brings us to the end of our lesson. We will have to wait until next week to continue looking at these events in Jesus’ life as they unfold. We will begin looking at who followed Jesus and talk about His illegal trial and what happened next. While it can be challenging to put all these events together from four different accounts, I think it worth the effort for us to get the complete picture. I hope when you study any given topic that you will always study out the matter from every place it is taught in Scripture. Otherwise, you will miss out on everything you could know about that topic.