After Jesus had finished instructing His remaining eleven disciples and praying in their presence, it was time to leave. Jesus and His remaining disciples traveled across the Kidron Valley, via candlelight, to the Garden of Gethsemene and went into it. This was a place where Jesus and His twelve disciples had frequently come to pray and they all knew this location well (John 18:1-2). By this time, it was late at night. Judas, being one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, knew exactly where to find the One he had sold out for personal gain. And now, for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15), Judas took with him a company of soldiers and some temple police from the chief priests and Pharisees and came to ambush Jesus for His arrest and coming death (John 18:3).
“36Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow — to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” 39Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:36-39 (HCSB)
As Jesus prayed, Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, tried to stay awake while Jesus prayed a little ways away. Yet, their own hearts were filled with such sheer fatigue, they soon found it impossible to stay awake. Three times Jesus awoke the disciples and three times they drifted back to sleep (Matthew 26:40-45).
“45Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.” Matthew 26:45-46 (HCSB)
With lanterns and torches illuminating the faces of those traveling into the garden, all of the eleven other disciples became keenly aware that multiple weapons had been brought against them by the hand of their long time friend; Judas Iscariot. Thomas and the others were shocked and quickly parted from their sleeping state. What was unfolding before their eyes was too horrible to be a nightmare—the body armor, swords, shields, clubs and overall appearance of the battle ready troop, standing with Judas, made clear to all that there would be no negotiations tonight.
“4Then Jesus, knowing everything that was about to happen to Him, went out and said to them, “Who is it you’re looking for? ”
“I am He,” Jesus told them.
Judas, who betrayed Him, was also standing with them. 6When He told them, “I am He,” they stepped back and fell to the ground.” John 18:4-6 (HCSB)
Thomas and the other eleven disciples all were struck with awe and amazement at this moment. The powerful and well-armed representatives of the Sanhedrin, had all fallen to the ground at Jesus’ words “I am He”! This very phrase “I am” had been used by God in the Old Testament, when speaking to Moses to assure the Israelites that freedom from the captivity in Egypt was soon to end (Exodus 3:14). And now, all twelve of the disciples were seeing God Almighty Himself on display. The very One who spoke all of creation into existence (Genesis 1:1), the very one who held all things together (John 1:1-5) was now staring face-to-face with the soldiers who wore the most recognizable insignias of power in their day; yet, it was these same soldiers who had all just fallen to the ground at the power of Jesus Christ’s words “I am He”.
8“I told you I am He,” Jesus replied. “So if you’re looking for Me, let these men go.” 9This was to fulfill the words He had said: “I have not lost one of those You have given Me.” John 18:7-9 (HCSB)
At this, Judas began to approach Jesus to greet him with a kiss, as was customary within their culture as a greeting. But, knowing what Judas was going to do, Jesus asked Judas if he was going to betray the Son of Man with a kiss (Luke 22:48). The eleven disciples, now fully aware of what was before them, asked Jesus if they should draw their swords and fight those who had come to seize and arrest Jesus (Luke 22:49). Suddenly, something glistening caught Thomas’ eye in the hand of Peter. Without wasting another second, Peter charged Malchus, the servant of the High Priest, and cut his ear clear off (John 18:10)! Malchus screamed and grabbed his head as panic gripped the man. Jesus, after touching the man’s ear and healing it (Luke 22:51) sternly corrected Peter for such an act as He reminded Peter that this entire process was in fact the will of His Father in heaven.
“52Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. 53Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? 54How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way? ” Matthew 26:52-54 (HCSB)
(End of part II)