Jesus was still speaking to the sleepy disciples when their temptation burst upon the scene in the form of a large force that had been sent to arrest Him in the dead of night, led by none other than Judas Iscariot. Judas had arranged with his sponsors to reveal the identity of Jesus with a kiss… as though they didn’t know what He looked like.
The disciples are confused; is this what He meant when He had spoken earlier of swords? Someone hacked the ear off of one of the men who had come to arrest Jesus. Jesus tells them to stop and heals the man.
Whenever I read of the arrest of Jesus, I’m amazed at the contrast between His time of prayer, and His actions when the actual moment comes for Him to submit Himself to the cross. Look carefully at the text and ask yourself who is actually in command of this scene. The temple guards and officials have come upon them with an overwhelming force and you would expect that the temple officials would be firmly in command of the situation, but they are not. Not only is Jesus firmly in command of the situation, He shames them:
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? 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.” (22:52-53)
Oh yes, what big men they were, sneaking around in the dark, taking an overwhelming force of men out into the night to arrest a preacher whom they could have arrested at any time in the temple courts. Of course, out here in the darkness of night, no one would know who had done this deed; they would have plausible deniability for their actions.
As we read Luke’s account of this scene, it would appear that the disciples have avoided falling into temptation to deny Jesus; after all they were right there with drawn swords they even obeyed His command to stop. Yet, this was only the beginning of the ordeal.