(Inspired by John 18:1-11)
When Jesus completed His special prayer for his followers, He turned and led them to the little garden that was His favorite spot on the Mount of Olives. The burden that He was carrying was almost more than He could bear, and He needed to spend what time He had left talking with His Father about it.
Judas of Kerioth had not hesitated when he rushed away from the disciples’ Passover meal. He quickly made his way through the city to the house of Caiaphas to complete the deal for betraying the Teacher. He was hoping to tell them where to find Jesus, collect his money, and leave. He never wanted to have to see Jesus or any of the others ever again, but Caiaphas had other plans. There would be no mistakes tonight. The guards were ordered to take Judas with them. The traitor was to lead the whole mob of them to the Nazarene and positively identify Him to the officers.
It had taken some time to gather all the troops. Caiaphas wasn’t sure how hard the disciples would fight to protect their Teacher, so he wanted an overwhelming force to be sure the arrest went as planned. That’s why it took so long. The temple guards had been placed on standby that evening, and all leave was canceled. They could be assembled at a moment’s notice. Caiaphas also had gathered a large contingent of street thugs to join his male servants as part of the small army. But that wasn’t enough. Caiaphas had pressed the Roman governor to send a cohort of soldiers to go with them. It was several hours later before the governor approved the soldiers’ participation.
Judas was nodding off to sleep when, in the wee hours of the morning, the fully armed Roman soldiers finally arrived at Caiaphas’s gate. Rubbing his hands together with glee, the chief priest gave the order, and Judas was jerked to the front of the column and ordered to lead them to the Nazarene. When the huge mob arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane carrying torches and clubs, they were quite intimidating.
Jesus spotted them as they approached and began waking up His sleeping disciples. Stepping past His drowsy followers, Jesus confronted Judas and the leaders of the mob. “Who are you looking for?” Jesus asked, looking at Judas.
Without answering, Judas swallowed hard and timidly began pushing back into the crowd.
When Judas didn’t answer the question, the captain of the temple guard spoke up, “Which one of you is Jesus the Nazarene!”
“I AM!” Jesus stated firmly, using the name of God. Immediately power shot forth as the Son of God declared His identity, and all of the mob stumbled backwards and fell to the ground as if shoved by an invisible hand.
There was a stunned, awkward moment as the entire posse hurriedly picked themselves up and tried to find dropped weapons, torches, and helmets. When they were mostly back on their feet, Jesus asked again, “Who is it you’re looking for?”
“Uh…Jesus the Nazarene,” the captain answered more humbly.
“That’s who I said I am,” Jesus returned. “If I’m the One you’re seeking, then leave these others alone.” Jesus gestured to His followers, and the disciples began backing slowly away from the soldiers.
“YOU!” the captain pointed his sword at Judas. The traitor was roughly shoved forward until he was standing in front with the others. “Show us for sure which one of these guys is the Nazarene!”
Looking down at the ground, Judas shuffled forward until he was directly in front of Jesus. Looking into the eyes of the Lord, Judas managed to get out, “Hello, Teacher,” and then kissed Him.
With a look of deep sadness, Jesus stared into the traitor’s eyes and asked, “A kiss, Judas? You’re betraying Me with a kiss?”
Simon, son of John, who everyone in the group knew as Rock, had been upset ever since Jesus had said earlier during the Passover meal that he would deny Jesus three times. As the soldiers and militia arrived to arrest his Master, Rock began repeating to himself the mantra he had uttered hundreds of times that evening, “I will not deny Him! I will not forsake Him!” As he said these words again, trying to build his courage, the fisherman reached behind his back with his left hand and grabbed the handle of the short sword he had hidden underneath his cloak. Yanking out the weapon, he yelled and slashed at the nearest torch-carrying member of the posse.
Malchus was one of Caiaphas’s house servants. He had been ordered out of his bed earlier in the evening and handed a torch. He wasn’t even sure what he was doing with this armed mob in the middle of the night except that he had been ordered to come. He had seen the sudden movement to his right. It wasn’t until the light from the torch he held glinted off the sword’s metal blade that he realized he was in danger. Rock’s sharp weapon swished for his throat. Ducking his head quickly to his left, Malchus managed to drop beneath the deadly sword…mostly. The cutting edge struck the bottom of Malchus’s right ear and sliced it cleanly off. With a sharp cry of pain, Caiaphas’s servant dropped his torch and grasped the bloody stump where his ear had been.
“ENOUGH OF THIS!” Jesus cried out, and everyone froze as the supreme commander of the universe gave His order. Turning to Rock, Jesus said, “Put your sword up. The Father has given Me a cup to drink, and neither you nor anyone else is going to stop Me from drinking it!”
Turning to the injured servant, Jesus stooped down and picked up the severed ear. Without even wiping it off, the Son of God put it back in its place, and Malchus suddenly realized that the pain had stopped. Feeling where the injury had been, the servant was stunned at what he found. There was his ear, exactly where it was supposed to be. His hand was still covered in his own blood, but his ear was in place, and the cut had completely healed. Malchus’s mouth dropped open, and he looked at the Teacher in wonder and amazement.
At this point the leader of the Roman soldiers decided that he had enough of this circus and gave orders for his men to charge forward and make the arrest. Jesus submitted to them. Others in the posse tried to apprehend the Nazarene’s followers, but it was too late. As soon as the Romans had moved against Jesus, His disciples all turned and ran into the darkness.
By Alan W. Harris