What Happened in the Garden of Gethsemane?
And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
Recall the night Christ entered the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. They had the Last Supper together celebrating Passover and then entered the garden. The Garden of Gethsemane literally means “oil press,” and is located on a slope of the Mount of Olives just across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem. Jesus frequently went to Gethsemane with His disciples to pray, but the most famous event would happen this night. The reality of this dark night was mounting and Christ, in His absolute sovereignty and calm, triumphant behavior remained unshakeable throughout this painful experience.
As the evening began in the garden, Jesus took three of them—Peter, James and John— to a place separated from the rest. Here Jesus asked them to watch with Him and pray so they would not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:14), but they fell asleep. Twice, Jesus had to wake them and remind them to pray so that they would not fall into temptation. This was especially important because Peter did fall into temptation later that very night. Three times he denied knowing Jesus which had already been foretold would happen by the Lord. Jesus asked His Father to remove the cup of wrath He was about to drink, but each time He submitted to the Father’s will. He was “exceedingly sorrowful unto death,” but God sent an angel from heaven to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43).
Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, was very familiar with the Garden of Gethsemane having been there with Jesus many times. As he arrived with a “multitude” of soldiers, high priests, Pharisees, and servants to arrest Jesus, Judas identified Him by the prearranged signal of a kiss. None of the writers of the gospels give an exact number to estimate the size of the mob that came for Jesus. Clearly they were afraid of Him and sent an armed multitude to arrest the King of Kings. Peter, trying to protect Jesus, took his sword and attacked a man named Malchus, the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. Miraculously, Jesus restored the man’s ear showing a divine supernatural healing, and an overwhelming display of power. It’s surprising that after witnessing this amazing miracle of healing it had no effect on the multitude. When Jesus asked, “Whom seek ye?” they went backward, and fell to the ground. They were not shaken by the power of His healing or His words, and became like dead men, falling to the ground.
In John chapter 18, we are shown through this narrative account not only the power and the courage of Christ, but also His great love. In the anticipation of the cross, Jesus is never concerned about Himself, but is always concerned about His disciples. When at last He should be thinking about Himself, He is thinking about them. He asked that these men, the disciples, be let go when in the garden they came with lanterns, torches and weapons to apprehend Him. They arrested Him and took Him bound to Pontius Pilate, while the disciples scattered in fear for their lives.
Thought: Jesus will willingly drink the bitter cup and die our death. His disciples will forsake Him, the Gentiles will mock and scourge Him, and the Jews will cry "Crucify Him," yet He will die in our place. He will give His life for those whom He loves in obedience to the Father's plan. May our hearts respond to so great a love, the divine work of redemption. Such a perfect plan in every detail and fulfilled flawlessly despite the enemy’s schemes to prevent it.