Running For Cover
Running For Cover -
I The Mob Arrives - Peter must be Shocked - Matt 26:47-49
II The Master Reacts - Peter is Silenced Matt 26:50-54
“Friend,” Jesus said to Judas, “wherefore art thou come?” We have already seen how Jesus used this word “friend [comrade, fellow]” before (11:16; 20:13; 22:12). Of course Jesus knew why Judas had come. The comment was more of an exclamation than a question. It was the Lord’s last appeal to whatever was left of conscience in Judas. Nothing could reverse the onward march of events as far as Jesus was concerned, but there might be mercy yet for Judas. The Lord knew what lay ahead for this man if he was not reclaimed: death by suicide and eternal torment in Hell’s hottest flames.
The moment was gone as fast as it came. The mob surged in according to plan and Judas was swept aside—his lips still sealed, his soul now a prey to second thoughts.
This incident is not without its lesson. In seeking to defend the Savior, many an overzealous disciple of Christ has cut off an unbeliever’s ear and made him even harder to reach. The unsaved person can only think of the un-Christian words and deeds of the one who has hurt him or the crass way some truth has been forced down his throat. It takes a special miracle of grace for such an unbeliever to have his spiritual hearing restored so that he will be willing to listen again to Jesus. How careful we should be not to misrepresent Him!
The Lord, however, had a different lesson for Peter. Jesus told him to put away his sword. The cause of Christ was not to be advanced by such means. “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” Resorting to violence only results in a violent response.
The Lord did not need Peter’s sword. Jesus could see what Peter could not see. Up yonder in Heaven were twelve legions of angels (seventy-two thousand of them) in battle array, straining over the battlements of the celestial city. A single word could unleash them. In a moment they could be ready to disband the mob, sweep away the Sanhedrin, execute summary vengeance on mankind, and usher in the battle of Armageddon. The word never came, for “as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
It is worth noting that the revelation of Matthew 26:53 was given to Peter, not Pilate. It was intended to inform, not to intimidate.
III The Minority Flees - Peter is Scared
We can see the mob huddled in the background, armed with swords and clubs, waiting to see what would happen. The Lord dragged them out into the open. “Am I a robber?” He demanded in effect. The word translated “thief in 26:55 is the same word that is used to describe the two men who were crucified with Jesus (27:38).
There were other questions implied: Why do you come armed as if I were dangerous? Why do you come in the night? The Lord reminded the mob how accessible He had made Himself in the temple. But their plot depended, or so they imagined, on a show of force sprung on Him in a lonely place under cover of darkness.
(2) What Jesus Accepted (26:56a)
The party that came to arrest the Lord was large. John described part of it as a “band” (John 18:3, 12). The word translated “band” is speira, the name of a cohort, a division of the Roman army. It is not likely that a whole cohort was present, but evidently there were enough men to enforce the arrest. Luke 22:52 says that besides the multitudes, the chief priests, captains of the temple, and elders were present too. Evidently the Sanhedrin was afraid that Jesus would defend Himself. If He had done so, no armies in the world could have stood against Him. But that was not the divine purpose. As Matthew commented, “All this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
b. The Followers of Jesus (26:56b)
We look sadly at the cowardly followers of Jesus. “All the disciples forsook him, and fled.” He had told them again and again that He was to be taken and slain, but His warnings did not fortify them against the overwhelming terror that seized them at His arrest. The misery of loneliness, betrayal, and abandonment entered the Savior’s soul.