15.02 The Betrayal And Arrest

15.02 The Betrayal And Arrest

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02 The Betrayal And Arrest

Unit 15

The Passion Escalates


Chapter 02

The Betrayal And Arrest

15.02.00.A. THE BETRAYAL OF JESUS. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876. (6)

15.02.00.A. THE BETRAYAL OF JESUS. Artwork by William Hole of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, 1876.    The betrayal by Judas and subsequent arrest of Jesus took place in the quiet olive tree grove on the Mount of Olives that was part of Gethsemane.

15.02.01 Introduction

Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02.01 Introduction

15.02.01 Introduction

As Jesus and His disciples were enjoying their Passover Seder in peace, fellowship, and sweet communion, the disciples were probably wondering what events the coming days would bring.  Following this peaceful moment, they walked through the crowded city streets, through the Eastern Gate, and across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives that is today called the “Garden of Gethsemane.”[1]  At this time the “garden” was a large orchard of olive trees that may also have had a vineyard, as was typical of olive tree orchards. It is assumed that along the small stream of water in the Kidron Valley were cedar trees, since the terms Kidron and the brook Kidron (literal translation of Jn. 18;1) both mean cedar from the word cedron.[2]


Near the lower edge of this orchard is the Cave of Gethsemane that was large enough to contain an olive press. That cave was cool during the heat of the day and was protective and private at night.  It is very probable that it was here where Jesus was arrested.[3] The name Gethsemane is from the Hebrew and Aramaic term Gat-semani, meaning oil press. Clearly, for an area to acquire a name as this, the Mount of Olives was probably a center for commercial olive oil production for sale and temple use.



15.02.01.A. THE CAVE OF GETHSEMANE. This cave has also been known as the Cave of Christ’s Teaching. Adjacent to the modern Garden of Gethsemane is the Cave of Gethsemane. Thousands of visitors see the Garden but few are even aware of the cave. Photograph by the author.   


15.02.01.B. ILLUSTRATION OF A BEAM OLIVE PRESS 15.02.01.B. ILLUSTRATION OF A BEAM OLIVE PRESS. After olives were crushed with a millstone (11.02.05.A) they were placed in a beam olive press.  The method of extracting olive oil was (1) to place the crushed olives in flexible baskets, (2) place a stone on top of the baskets, (3) stone weights hung on the end of the beam to increase the pressure on the olives. The pressure forced the oil out of the olives and it flowed into the stone vat below the baskets, from where it was later collected. Illustration by the author.


In the meantime the leading Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, scribes, elders, the retired chief priest and business tycoon Annas, and his conniving son-in-law Caiaphas, were all dreading the possibility that Jesus would destroy their religious system. Most likely, this motley crew gathered in the palace home of Caiaphas to plan a strategy to destroy their common Enemy.  Careful planning was necessary to prevent a riot because this would most certainly have invited a crushing Roman military response. Were that to happen, the result could be just as financially damaging as if Jesus were to become the political-messiah. Tensions were of volcanic proportions.


Thousands of people came to Jerusalem every year for Passover and many of them slept in the Mount of Olives orchard under the starry skies.  The night was quiet, except for the crying of many lambs that were about to be sacrificed. But while the mountains of Jerusalem were at peace and multitudes slept, Jesus was in the midst of the turmoil of spiritual warfare.  It was so intense that prayer became agonizing.  He struggled far more than did His ancestor, Jacob, whose prayer was a “type and shadow” of what Jesus endured this night.[4]  For what Jesus was about to experience was more deadly than death itself.  Matthew underscored the significance of Jesus’ praying when he stated that the Master prayed three times.[5]

[1]. The phrase “garden” does not appear in the gospels except in John 18:1.


[2]. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:413.


[3]. Taylor. “The Garden of Gethsemane: Not the Place of Jesus’ Arrest.” 32-35.


[4]. See “Type and shadow” in Appendix 26.


[5]. The fact that Jesus prayed three times, and that His praying is mentioned as such, is not a coincidence. To understand the significance of words or actions repeated three times, see 04.02.02.Q4 “Why did Matthew divide the list of names into three groups?”



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02.02 THE AGONY OF GETHSEMAN

15.02.02 Jn. 18:1; Mk. 14:32-34 (See also Lk. 22:40; Mt. 26:36-38)



Jn. 1 After Jesus had said these things, He went out with His disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, and He and His disciples went into it.


Mk. 32 Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and He told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be deeply distressed and horrified. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake.”


Jesus was very much aware of His purpose and destiny. He would not only have to face the cruel execution process, but spiritually He would die a sacrificial death for all the sins of humanity.  The thought that His crucifixion was just hours away caused profound emotional stress and agonizing pain. As He was engulfed in prayer, He perspired blood, yet remained faithful to His purpose and destiny. Every ounce of His human nature wanted to live, while His divine nature required that He surrender His life so that mere mortals might live to escape the crushing pain.  Hence, He was obedient, not to His human will, but to God’s plan for His life, which ultimately was His as well.


15.02.02.A. THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE.  The Garden at the time of Christ was an olive orchard with a possible vineyard.  Scholars believe it covered an estimated area of eight to ten acres, a major portion of the Mount of Olives.  These trees were already hundreds of years old when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans.  However, olive trees are known for their enduring root systems, and the trees seen today sprouted from the old root system after the destruction. Photograph by the author.

There are three traditions as to where Jesus stayed on the Mount of Olives:

  1. Either with friends,
  1. In the Cave of Gethsemane near the foot of the Mount, or
  1. The Cave of Eleona near the summit.[1] The term Eleona comes from the Greek term meaning olive grove.[2]

Since Jerusalem is at the edge of the Judean Desert where the climate is semi-arid, the caves are generally dry all year long, as well as warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  Caves were often used as shelters for domestic animals, part of a house, or a temporary shelter for travelers and pilgrims.

“Gethsemane.” The name means oil press in Aramaic, the common language of the Jewish people.[3]  Olives were picked from the trees, crushed with a giant millstone (see 11.02.05.A), and then placed in flexible baskets.  Just as the weights of an olive press beam multiplies the pressure upon the olives (see 15.02.01.B), so the sins of humanity and the pending hour of death multiplied the pressure upon Jesus. It was in this orchard where Jesus experienced the incredible pressure of what was before Him: the official rejection by the Jewish leaders, the agony of the cross, the burden of taking the sins of humanity upon Himself, and finally death itself.

The Gethsemane experience illustrates two significant points:

  1. His incredible emotional agony and spiritual warfare before the actual physical torture was implemented, and
  1. His determination to obey God the Father for the salvation of humanity.


Centuries earlier, God told Moses and Joshua to establish six cities of refuge.  Anyone involved in an accidental killing could run to a city of refuge to escape blood revenge (Num. 35:6 ff.; Jos. 20), prior to trial.  The priests in the cities of refuge were to be the advocates for the accused before God and the people.  Now, however, the priests were the accusers of Jesus before God and remained hidden from the people.  They did not want anyone to learn of their evil deeds; there was no city of refuge for Jesus.

“My soul is swallowed up in sorrow.” The word sorrow means to be pressed upon,[4]  as to emphasize the extreme emotional pressure He experienced.  Jesus alludes to three verses in Psalm (42:5, 11; 43:5), thereby revealing for the first time, that these are Messianic prophecies. He did not quote them, but to the listeners, the message would soon be understood.

[1]. Pixner, With Jesus in Jerusalem. 66.

[2]. http://orthodoxwiki.org/Church_on_the_Mount_of_Olives_(Eleona). Retrieved March 5, 2015.

[3]. Maier, The First Easter. 38.

[4]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 23, page 16.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02.03 JESUS PRAYS IN AGONY AS THE DISCIPLES SLEEP

15.02.03 Mk. 14:35-36; Lk. 22:43-45; Mt. 26:40-41 Mount of Olives



Mk. 35 Then He went a little farther, fell to the ground, and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”


Lk. [43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.] 45 When He got up from prayer and came to the disciples, He found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief.


Mt. 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”


In this first of three prayers, Jesus simply unburdened His heart to His Father.  He understood what He was about to face, but the disciples seemed to be failing continuously.  It is not only significant that Jesus prayed three times, but also that it was recorded three times.  When a word, phrase, or event is recorded three times, it is a Hebraic method of underlining its maximum significance.


“Abba, Father.”  This Aramaic word for father is equivalent to the English word daddy.  It is reflective of an affectionate loving relationship.[1]  With this use (cf. Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:15) believers can come to the Father God and call Him “Daddy.”  This is the name used by a child for his earthly father.  There is no evidence in rabbinic writings that the Jews ever addressed God with this term of endearment – it was a new revelation for the disciples.[2]


“This cup.”  Jesus understood the price He would have to pay for those whom He loved.  It is difficult to understand the enormous courage it took for Jesus to walk toward His death, not to mention the incredible suffering and shame He endured.  He clearly understood what was before Him, which underscores the significance of His courage. There are two significant elements to the cup:

  1. The cup represents all the pain, bitterness, and sins of humanity for which He would be the sacrificial lamb, and therefore die in the place of those who place their faith and trust in Him.
  1. The cup represents the wrath of God upon sin, so it would be upon Jesus and not on those who faithfully obey and trust Him.


There are also two incorrect interpretations of the cup.

  1. Some have said that Jesus ment His physical death, but that is disproved in John 10:17; Luke 19:10 Philippians 2:8 and Hebrews 10:5-9.
  1. Other scholars have said the cup referred to His premature death, but that is disproved in Luke 22:46 and John 10:18.


Jesus wanted both the hour (Mk. 14:35) and the cup (Mk. 14:36) to pass. For a fleeting moment He wanted to escape the agony of the cross, but this thought evaporated, for it could not be avoided. The Father’s will had to be completed and Jesus was faithful to accomplish it.  The temptation here was greater than anything He had ever experienced.  Some scholars believe the cup is an allusion to the third cup of the Passover, which was a cup of redemption, salvation, life, and covenant.  Others say the cup is symbolic of the divine wrath that Jesus would bear for the sins of others.[3]  The phrase also reflects Satan’s temptation to prevent Jesus from fulfilling His mission.




“Being in anguish.”  The aorist participle suggests that this agony was one growing in intensity.[4] This was common for those dying on a cross. Luke used the word “agony” in 22:44, meaning conflict.[5]


His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.”   This rare phenomenon occurs when someone is under extreme stress and blood capillaries in the sweat ducts burst.  Blood is then mixed with the perspiration and is known in modern Greek medical term as hematidrosis.[6]  The heavy fluid loss coupled with the lack of sleep, the emotional and physical fatigue, began the dehydration process that would culminate with His death on the cross.[7]


Nineteenth century critics have long said this would be impossible, yet human history records such rare events.  Church history records that this medical condition occurred again in the sixteenth century when the French king sentenced two men to their deaths. Saint Bartholomew and the other person, both of whom were accused of being a thieves, sweated drops of blood before being executed by the papal court of justice.[8]


As the Son of God, Satan could not touch Him.  But as the Son of Man, Jesus was in a fierce battle and this was to be Satan’s last onslaught against Him. Jesus did not fear death on the cross; He feared that He might not succeed as the Son of Man.  While He understood that His sacrifice would be for all the sins of humanity, He also understood that He was capable of failing.




“He found them asleep” Jesus did not find just one or two of His disciples asleep, but all of them. This was a huge failure on their part, even if they were exhausted. The code of conduct between a disciple and his rabbi was that the disciple cared for and protected his rabbi. A rabbi was considered to be closer than one’s father. All twelve failed miserably at a very basic code of conduct, for which there is no parallel in today’s Western culture. They had been told several times of the events that were about to unfold, yet they failed to understand. Now, when Jesus needed them most, they failed and He was all alone. They were nearby physically, but distant emotionally and spiritually.

[1]. Neusner and Green, eds., Dictionary of Judaism. 2.

[2]. Martin, Worship in the Early Church. 35; Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:349.


[3]. See also references in Ps. 11:6; 75:8; Is. 51:17, 22; Jer. 49:12; Rev. 14:10; 16:19; 17:4.


[4]. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:425.


[5]. Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 23, page 16.


[6]. Edwards, Gabel, and Hosmer. ”On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ.” 1456; Fruchtenbaum, The Jewish Foundation of the Life of Messiah: Instructor’s Manual. Class 23, page 16. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 364.


[7]. Dauer, How Jesus Died: The Final 18 Hours. (Video).


[8]. Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 288.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02.04 JESUS PRAYS A SECOND TIME

15.02.04 Mt. 26:42




Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.”


Again they failed!  It was as if they didn’t even care!  It is difficult to comprehend that they would fall asleep at such a desperate time as this. It reveals their complete lack of understanding of the struggles Jesus was experiencing.  Certainly, the expectations of the crowds and the excitement of the Passover would have encouraged them to stay awake.  Then, possibly for these same reasons, they were exhausted.  Previously when Jesus asked them to stay awake to experience the Transfiguration (Mt. 17), they had fallen asleep then, as well (Lk. 9:32).


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02.05 JESUS PRAYS A THIRD TIME

15.02.05 Mt. 26:43-46 (See also Mk. 14:40-42)




43 And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.

44 After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then 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. 46 Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.”


The issue is not that they fell asleep again, but that they did so three times.  Essentially, the number three indicates that they emphatically said they didn’t care to understand the struggle Jesus was enduring.


Just as Elijah had done centuries earlier (1 Kg. 17:21) and Paul would do later (2 Cor. 12:8), Jesus prayed a third time.  The Gethsemane experience was the preparation for Calvary, but before He could yield His body as a sacrifice for sin on the cross, He had to yield His will and desire to the Father.  Only then was He ready to die. While the shed blood, death, and resurrection of Jesus is the salvation for those who believe, the agony of Gethsemane is often overlooked.  These events, including the last Passover Seder, should be seen as a single event, but as progressive sacrificial event for the salvation of humanity that Jesus created and dearly loves.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02.06 JUDAS BETRAYS JESUS

15.02.06 Jn. 18:2-3; Mk. 14:43-44; Lk. 22:47-48; Mk. 14:45 (See also Mt. 26:47-50a)




Jn. 2 Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with His disciples. 3 So Judas took a company of soldiers and some temple police from the chief priests and the Pharisees and came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.


Mk. 43 While He was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, suddenly arrived. With him was a mob, with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. 44 His betrayer had given them a signal. “The One I kiss,” he said, “He’s the One; arrest Him and take Him away under guard.”

Lk. 47 While He was still speaking, suddenly a mob was there, and one of the Twelve named Judas was leading them. He came near Jesus to kiss Him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

Mk. 45 So when he came, he went right up to Him and said, “Rabbi!”— and kissed Him.


“A company of soldiers … temple police from the chief priests and the Pharisees”  While John did not make a distinctive identification of the soldiers, it is almost certain that he was speaking here of Roman and temple soldiers.[1] A company or detachment consisted of 200 to 600 men, depending on the interpretation of the Greek word speira, meaning a detachment of Roman soldiers.[2] The commander was probably an archegos (747) who was in charge of the praetorian cohort.[3]  The chief priests called for the sagan (from strategos 4755), a deputy or captain of the temple, who in turn brought forth every available temple guard (Levites) to arrest Jesus.[4]   The temple police, or huperetas, had limited authority outside the temple, but moved Jesus within the temple where the Roman soldiers could not enter.[5]  The passage implies that Pilate was awake and waiting for Jesus to be brought to him, as only Pilate had the authority to send a detachment of soldiers. Furthermore, Pilate was not permitted to send soldiers to arrest anyone, unless there was a charge made against that person. Clearly, Caiaphas was at work behind the scenes to insure that all requirements for a Roman trial were met, as both Roman soldiers and temple guards came to arrest Jesus.  They came with torches and lanterns, as no priest could walk safely in this area at night since area was filled with tombs, and it was believed that walking over one would cause defilement and prevent service in the temple.  But at this point, a very Hellenistic Caiaphas didn’t care about tombs – he had a very important mission to accomplish.


The Sadducees and the leading Pharisees were passionately concerned about the reaction of the public to their plans, once these became known. Likewise, they were fearful that Jesus might use His incredible power against them.  Hence, they came to the Garden of Gethsemane with a detachment of soldiers. When Jesus realized they were coming, He could have slipped away as He had done in Nazareth, but He didn’t. Yet in light of all the miracles everyone had seen Jesus perform, it is amazing that the religious leaders believed their soldiers could overpower Him. But maybe there were other reasons for the all those soldiers – and two possibilities are as follows:


  1. That the leaders feared Jesus might join the Zealots and attempt an overthrow of Roman domination, or


  1. The greater possibility was that the massive crowds would awaken and come to the defense of Jesus and the disciples. The popularity of Jesus was still at fever pitch.


The Sadducees and leading Pharisees were aware that a revolt was highly possible. In this assessment they were, in fact, accurate, but the fact that Pilate could find no fault in Jesus caught them by surprise.


“Came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.”  Few passages of the gospels reveal the fear the leading Pharisees and Sadducees had, better than this one.  Everyone was well aware of the character of Jesus and His disciples, so why were weapons needed?  They weren’t.  Yet those who travailed in fear and evil did not take any chances and came fully armed.  They also came with lanterns and torches – strips of resinous wood tied together to burn brightly.[6]


Passover is celebrated only when there is a bright full moon and when the rainy season is over.  Therefore, the sky is always bright and clear in Jerusalem on Passover.  This writer has often enjoyed full moon evenings when it was bright enough to walk outside without a flashlight. After twenty minutes outside in the dark, the eyes adjust to the moonlight. No doubt lanterns and torches were brought in case Jesus and the disciples were hiding in a cave.  Whatever the reason, they were absolutely determined to rid themselves of Jesus even if it meant bringing along equipment and troops that were not needed.


“The One I kiss.” To give a kiss on the cheek was, and continues to be, a common greeting in many Middle Eastern countries. It is called a “holy kiss” or “kiss of love” in Paul’s epistles as well as in 1 Peter. But on this night it was Satan’s kiss of betrayal. The phrase has lost its meaning in Western culture.


15.02.06.Q1 Why would Judas have wanted to betray Jesus (Mk. 14:43-45)?[7]


The possible reasons are as follows:[8]


  1. Judas may have become disillusioned with Jesus as the messiah, since He was obviously not the expected military-messiah who would overthrow the Romans. Ironically, if the Jews would have accepted Jesus as their Messiah, then the one-world government of the Romans would have been overthrown.


  1. Judas had witnessed Jesus perform many miracles and never considered the possibility that the real Messiah would die on a Roman cross. This would be especially true, since it was well known that anyone who died on a tree was cursed.


  1. Some have argued that Judas betrayed Jesus out of greed. Suppose Jesus did not rise from the grave. Judas would then have clout and status with the religious leaders beyond anything he had experienced in his life. Thirty pieces of silver would not have been worth the effort, but status among the religious leaders would have been priceless.


“Are you going to betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”  The betrayal becomes more significant when the Greeks word for kiss is examined. The normal Greek word is philein, but Matthew used the word kataphilein, which means to kiss repeatedly and fervently as with deep affection.[9]    It is the same word used of the tender caress of our Lord’s feet by the woman in the Pharisee’s house (Lk. 7:38), of the father who kissed his prodigal son (Lk. 15:20), and the farewell kiss the elders of Ephesus gave to the Apostle Paul when he left them (Acts 20:37). When Jesus called Judas “friend,” He did not use the usual term philos, meaning friend, but Jesus referred to him as a comrade or companion, with the Greek word hetairos.[10]  


A kiss on the cheek was a sign of the discipleship a man had with his mentor and rabbi. It was the symbol of the highest degree of devotion and trust. As such, when Judas approached Jesus, he placed both hands on the shoulders of Jesus. Therefore, the kiss of Judas was not an ordinary greeting between to friends who have not seen each other for a time, but a kiss of betrayal of the highest order that, in today’s Western culture, has no equal.[11]  When Jesus asked the question, He extended love to him that he might repent.[12]

[1]. Scholars believe it was a Roman cohort of approximately 600 Samaritan soldiers, headed by a Chiliarch, or commander. No Jews were permitted in the Roman military.


[2]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 368.


[3]. Vine, “Captain.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:88.


[4]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 367-68; Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:415.


[5]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 369-70.


[6]. Vine, “Lantern.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:352.


[7]. Be sure to see 14.01.12.Q1 “Why was Judas needed to betray Jesus when everyone easily recognized Him?”


[8]. See also 15.03.12.Q3 “Why did Jesus choose Judas for a disciple?”


[9]. Barclay, “Matthew.” 2:290; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 367.


[10]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 367.


[11]. Barclay, “Luke.” 273.


[12]. The proverbial “kiss of betrayal” was known among all people groups in the ancient Middle East. See Gen. 27:26ff; 2 Sam. 15:5; Prov. 7:13; 27:6.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02.07 DISCIPLES SAFETY INSURED

15.02.07 Jn. 18:4-9



4 Then Jesus, knowing everything that was about to happen to Him, went out and said to them, “Who is it you’re looking for?

5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they answered.

“I am He,” Jesus told them.

Judas, who betrayed Him, was also standing with them. 6 When He told them, “I am He,” they stepped back and fell to the ground.

7 Then He asked them again, “Who is it you’re looking for?”

“Jesus the Nazarene,” they said.

8 “I told you I am He,” Jesus replied. “So if you’re looking for Me, let these men go.”

9 This was to fulfill the words He had said: “I have not lost one of those You have given Me” (John 6:39).


Who is it you’re looking for?”  This brief, but interesting, question had a specific purpose.  By their answer, “Jesus of Nazareth,” Jesus assured His disciples that they would not become victims of the coming cruelty. It also made everyone witness the betrayal and arrest.  So important was this issue that the question was repeated.


Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02.08 PETER CUTS OFF THE SERVANT’S EAR

15.02.08 Mk. 14:46; Lk. 22:49; Jn. 18:10-11; Mt. 26:52-54; Lk. 22:51; (Mk. 14:47)




Mk. 46 Then they took hold of Him and arrested Him.


Lk. 49 When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?”


Jn. 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. (The slave’s name was Malchus.)


Mt. 52 Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? 54 How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”


Lk. 51 But Jesus responded, “No more of this!” And touching his ear, He healed him.



15.02.08.Q1 Was it Peter’s intention to cut off the servant’s head (Jn. 18:10)? 

NO! The passage reads, “then Simon Peter … cut off his right ear.” Was this a sign of the rebellion that the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and the soldiers so greatly feared? Absolutely not!  Had that been the case, the disciples would have been slaughtered immediately, along with Jesus.[1]  The Romans and Sadducees had absolutely no compassion for anyone who might stir a rebellion.  The healing saved the life of Peter, who, at that moment, was obviously not a highly favored Jew in the eyes of the arresting soldiers.


Had Jesus ridden into Jerusalem on a horse, or if they sang nationalistic songs such as A Psalm of Solomon, with Song, the King, which had phrases like “destroy the unrighteous rulers” and “drive out the sinners,” then Jesus and all of His disciples would probably have been immediately killed. But for more than three years the Romans, Hellenistic Jews, Herodians, and the Jewish leaders had been carefully watching Him and the huge crowds that followed. He never hinted at a nationalistic word.


However, if it was not Peter’s intention to kill Malchus, what was his intention?   Malchus was not an ordinary temple servant, but chief assistant of Caiaphas, the official position known as the segan hacohaneem.[2]  Since John was an acquaintance of the family of Caiaphas, he would have known the name of the servant.  Malchus, most likely, did not lose his entire ear, but only a small portion, such as his ear lobe, because any injury would have had two results:


  1. It would have caused great shame for the temple administrator.


  1. More importantly, the injury would have disqualified him from any temple service (Lev. 21:18-21). No one with a physical handicap or imperfection was permitted to enter the most sacred area of the temple.


Peter was not the first to have vented his anger in this manner; he merely acted out a cultural custom. Josephus preserved a similar account that occurred during the early reign of Herod the Great, when Hyrcanus II desired to become the high priest against the wishes of one called Antigonus. So Antigonus “disqualified” his rival from service in the office of priesthood.


Antigonus himself also bit off Hyrcanus’s ears with his own teeth, as he fell down upon his knees to him so that he might never be able, upon any mutation of affairs, to take the high priesthood again; for the high priests that officiated were to be complete and without blemish.

Josephus, Wars 1.13.9 (270)


“Malchus.” Malchus was a personal servant of the high priest, Caiaphas. He name was derived from the Hebrew word melech, meaning king. The event is quite interesting, as the “servant king” was pierced and healed by the Servant King who died and then was pierced.


Ironically, just as Israel had rejected Jesus, they no longer desired to hear Him, they had their hearing, or “ears” cut off.  As such Malchus, was a “king” of the high priest who was responsible for leading the charge to have Jesus crucified, was symbolic of national Israel. At times, even the smallest events in the life of Jesus, have incredible depth of meaning.



All who take up a sword will perish by a sword.” This proverb is hardly a call to pacifism since Jesus told Peter to place the sword back into its sheath. He did not rebuke Peter or any other disciple for having one, nor did He tell them to get rid of their swords.  Men commonly carried them for protection from bandits and wild animals because both were very common (see 05.02.04.D and 05.02.04.E).  Short swords were essentially long knives used to prepare meals, cut firewood, and a variety of other household tasks. Concerning wild animals, the Oral Law stated that,


The wolf, the lion, the bear, the leopard, the panther, and the serpent rank as an attested danger.

Mishnah, Baba Kamma 1.4


Another interpretation of this event is that, since Peter and John had been sent to prepare the Passover sacrifice, they naturally would have had two ceremonial swords for cutting the Passover lamb.  At this time, they still had these in their possession.[3]


“12 legions of angels.” The number of soldiers in a Roman legion varied throughout history, but at this time, it consisted of approximately 6,000 men. This underscores the point that Jesus laid down His life, no one took it or killed Him without His permission.


“Would the Scriptures be fulfilled.” What Scriptures? And what was the prophecy? Twice Jesus made a reference to prophetic Scriptures being fulfilled (verses 54 and 56). Since there is no specific Scripture, the answer may lie in Zechariah 13:7, but in all probability Jesus made a reference to the overall tone of prophetic Scripture rather than a specific verse.[4]


And touching his ear, He healed him.” Jesus healed the ear of the servant of the high priest. In doing so, Jesus restored him to his position in the temple because anyone with a physical handicap was not permitted to enter the temple, much less serve there. There can be no question that this report reached Caiaphas, who would soon be the primary individual responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.

[1]. See Appendix 25 for a partial listing of false prophets, rebels and rebellions that impacted the world of Jesus.


[2]. Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. 25; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 368.


[3]. Pentecost, The Words and Works of Jesus Christ. 432.

[4]. A partial list of other problematic passages is listed in Appendix 13.



Bill Heinrich  -  Dec 21, 2015  -  Comments Off on 15.02.09 JESUS CHIDES ARREST

15.02.09 Lk. 22:52-53; Jn. 18:12; Mt. 26:56b; Mk. 14:51-52



Lk. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, temple police, and the elders who had come for Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a criminal?   53 Every day while I was with you in the temple complex, you never laid a hand on Me. But this is your hour — and the dominion of darkness.”


Jn. 12 Then the company of soldiers, the commander, and the Jewish temple police arrested Jesus and tied Him up.                                                                                         


Mt. 56b Then all the disciples deserted Him and ran away.                                        


Mk. 51 Now a certain young man, having a linen cloth wrapped around his naked body, was following Him. They caught hold of him, 52 but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked.

“The chief priests.”  It appears that the leading Pharisees handed the issue of Jesus over to the chief priests because there is no mention of the Pharisees in connection to His arrest, the six trials, and the crucifixion. From this point on, they are out of the biblical record and the Sadducees apparently took control of the crucifixion process.


The complete absence of the Pharisees is altogether highly probable according to Josephus, who recorded a previous historic event that is similar to this account.  As the story goes, evidently, Jonathan, a member of the Sadducees, desired to punish a certain Eleazar by capital punishment, but the Pharisees extended mercy and chose a lesser punishment.  According to Josephus, the discussion concluded as follows:

So the Pharisees made answer, that he deserved stripes and bonds (scourging and chained to prison columns) but that it did not seem right to punish reproaches with death; and indeed the Pharisees, even upon other occasions, are not apt to be severe in punishments.

Josephus, Antiquities 13.10.6 (249b)

The Sadducees, on the other hand, were known for their stern and heartless cruelty, even toward their own peers who served as priests.[1] Josephus said they were hated by the people.[2]  These elitists were so bad, that shortly before the destruction of the temple; they stole the tithes that were reserved for the other priests, thereby forcing them into starvation.  Josephus recorded the horrific account.

About this time king Agrippa gave the high priesthood to Ishmael, who was the son of Fabi.  And now there arose a sedition between the high priests and the principal men of the multitude of Jerusalem…. And such was the impudence and boldness that had seized on the high priests, that they had the hardness to send their servants into the threshing floors to take away those tithes that were due to the priests, insomuch that it so fell out that the poorer sort of priests died of want.  To this degree did the violence of the seditious prevail over all right and justice.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.8.8 (179, 181)

However, the greatest probability for the reason that the leading Pharisees are not mentioned in the trial of Jesus is that they were not permitted to vote in capital cases.[3]  The Mishnah preserves this portion of the Oral Law:

In non-capital cases concerning uncleanness and cleanness (the judges declare their opinion) beginning with the eldest, but in capital cases they begin from (them that sit at) the side. All (of the family stocks) are qualified to try non-capital cases; but all are not qualified to try capital cases, but only priests, Levites, and Israelites that may give (their daughters) in marriage into the priestly stock (can try capital cases).[4]

Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4.2[5]

As much as the Pharisees had planned to kill Jesus, when the hour came to do the act they were forced to allow the Sadducees to act out the intentions of their heart. They might have been before Pilate shouting, “Crucify him, crucify him” (Mt. 27:22-23; Lk. 23:20), and felt innocent about it, since they were not physically involved in His death or judicially involved.  In their way of thinking, they were innocent, since murder to them was not a condition of the heart, but only of a completed action.


Throughout the centuries, the Pharisees have been accused of the crucifixion of Jesus.  Clearly, they plotted His death numerous times, yet, from the time His arrest, trial, condemnation, and crucifixion, they appear to be nowhere in the gospel narratives.  They vanished from the pen of the gospel writers to be replaced by the Sadducees, scribes, and elders.  Could it be that they passionately coveted His death, but also feared the actual execution of a man who did good and performed miracles?  In comparison with other judicial decisions by the Pharisees and Sadducees, the Pharisees often demonstrated more compassion than did their rivals.  While the Pharisees most certainly desired to rid themselves of Jesus, they did not want to be directly involved with His execution.  As strange as it seems, this was consistent with their legalistic thinking.  As previously stated, they believed that if they were not physically involved in His death, they were not guilty of any sin, regardless of their attitudes.

Amazingly, while Jesus was taken through the Jewish and Roman courts, the disciples were never taken into custody.  It is a mystery that not a single one of them was asked to come forward and testify on behalf or against Jesus; neither were they accused of being “co-conspirators.” If the Romans would have had the slightest thought that Jesus was a political revolutionary, He and all the disciples would have been slaughtered immediately. But the disciples remained safe and were not even asked to appear in court.

Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a criminal?”  Some translations read, “Am I leading a rebellion?” The implication of the political background is that criminals were generally also revolutionaries, because they supported themselves by criminal activities. There were thirteen rebellions between the time when Pompey entered Jerusalem in 63 B.C., and when the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. Some historians say there were three major revolts that overshadowed dozens of smaller ones. But on this evening, the Romans were not worried about any attempt by Jesus to overthrow them. The Herodian spies kept Herod Antipas and Pilate well informed of their activities.  As previously stated, Jesus was so extremely popular (Mk. 12:37) that they continued to fear an uprising would occur if His arrest became public knowledge. Hence, the soldiers were sent as an additional measure of security and insure the peace.

“Every day I was with you in the temple complex.”  Jesus emphatically stated that He was teaching daily in the temple courts.  It was the custom of the day for rabbis and sages to teach in this manner throughout the temple courts or on the Southern Steps.  Jesus said that He was simply following the custom of His peers; He did absolutely nothing unusual or His enemies could have challenged Him in broad daylight.  Instead, they chose to do their evil work in the darkness of night.   Jesus remained extremely popular with the crowds throughout the Passion Week.  The reason He was not arrested in the temple courts is that the masses would have revolted against the arresting forces.  Those who claim that all the people turned against Jesus have failed to provide any type of evidence or suggestion as to why thousands of people, who loved Jesus, would have suddenly turned against Him.

“A linen cloth.” Some scholars believe the word linen is a derivation from Indian. India was the primary source for the finest fabrics.  Furthermore, it is believed that Indian cloth was used to wrap dead bodies and possibly the body of Jesus as well.[6]

15.02.09.Q1 Concerning Mark 14:52, was a certain young man who ran away really naked?

This is a classic example where the definition of a word in one culture has a different meaning in another culture. In verse 52 are the phrases, “a certain young man … ran away naked.” Nearly all commentators agree that this young man was none other than John Mark, who in later years wrote one of the gospels. The arrest of Jesus not only frightened the disciples, but did so especially for John Mark.  Evidently someone tried to capture him, but he slipped out of his outer garment and escaped. To be without the outer garment was deemed naked.[7] The English word naked is translated from the Greek root word dyo. It is closely linked with gymnotes. To have been naked was to have been without an outer garment but wearing loin cloth, or poorly dressed,[8] a completely different definition from modern Western understanding of the word. On a side note, military definition of naked was to be without armor, not without clothing.[9] The disciples knew all too well that the arrest of a leader usually meant imprisonment, slavery, or possibly execution for everyone affiliated with him. John Mark was not about to take any chances.  An explanation of the word “nude” is found in this rabbinic writing concerning the capital punishment of stoning:

When he (the condemned man)[10] was four cubits from the place of stoning, they stripped off his clothes.  A man is kept covered in the front and a woman both in front and behind….The sages say: “A man is stoned naked but a woman is not stoned naked.”

Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6.3-4

Clearly, both men and women wore minimal clothing when stoned to death, but were still considered to be “naked.” As previously stated, modesty in the ancient Jewish world was of great importance.  When the Greeks and Romans controlled Judaea, the Jews were horrified with the immodesty of their Gentile overlords and neighbors. That is one reason they called Gentiles “dogs.”


15.02.09.A. AN OLD ILLUSTRATION OF TWO MEN FISHING “NAKED.”  Fishing “naked” did not mean fishing without any clothing, but fishing in what would today be known as “underwear” or a small “swim suit.” Since fishing was done at night in the middle of the Sea, it was not an issue. Furthermore, hauling fishing nets into a boat usually meant the fishermen got rather wet.

A person’s garments always consisted of an under layer and outer or upper layer. As previously stated, when the outer layer was removed, he/she was said to be “naked.” [11] In this narrative, Isaiah took off his outer layer that was known as a cetoneth and sandals and preached repentance to the people. He obviously caught their attention, and probably their criticisms, but he told them of pending divine judgment.  On the other hand, if one were to say today that Isaiah preached in his underwear, that interpretation is both right and wrong.  It is right from the ancient Jewish account, but again wrong in western thinking because “ancient under-garments” were far more modest than today’s fashions.  Since Isaiah was dressed as one who had been robbed or a prisoner of war, he personally became an object lesson of his sermon.[12]

[1]. Geikie, The Life and Words of Christ. 2:71-72.

[2]. Josephus, Antiquities 18.1.3-4.

[3]. For further study, see James C. McRuer, The Trial of Jesus. Toronto: Clarke Irwin Ltd. 1964.

[4]. Last parenthesis mine.

[5]. Other parenthesis by Danby, ed., Mishnah.

[6]. See also Mt. 27:59; Mk. 15:46; Lk. 23:53; Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament. 1:228.

[7]. Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 57.

[8]. Weigelt, “Clothe, Naked, Dress, Garment, Cloth.” 1:312, 315; Vine, “Naked, Nakedness.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:425.

[9]. Josephus, Antiquities 8.14.2

[10]. Parenthesis mine.

[11]. Vine, “Naked, Nakedness.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 2:425, and “Clothing, Cloths, Clothes, Cloke, Coat.” 2:105-06.

[12]. Keil and Delitzsch. Commentary on the Old Testament.  7:242.

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