Open your Bible to Luke 22:47-53. Have you ever been so stunned that you can't speak? I know what that's like, and what strikes me as I look at this passage is how unsurprised the Savior is by the ambush of these assailants. He is prepared not only to respond to them but to assume the position of the person who is in charge and to serve as a physician of souls in complete trust of His sovereign heavenly Father. And I'd like to look with you at how we see that.

I. Betrayed with a Kiss

First I want you to see this scene in verses 47 and 48. While Jesus is still speaking to His disciples, a crowd comes to arrest him. We know there are Roman guards and Jewish leaders here, but here’s the shocking thing. Leading the way was Judas, one of Jesus’ own disciples. As he approaches Jesus, he identifies Jesus to His assailants by kissing Him. This was an expression of love and reverence that sometimes was shown to a rabbi by his disciples, but Judas is using it as his sign to identify their prey. It is a display of false affection as a cloak for deep wickedness.

And yet, do you see Jesus’ response to this? Look at verse 48. Jesus speaks words to Judas that are designed to make Judas realize his own wickedness and turn him back to God. Look at Jesus’ words. “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” In other words, He's saying, “Really Judas? You’re going to do this this way? Don't you realize the danger of this to your soul? ” Jesus is trying to get Judas to realize what he's doing, but Judas does not heed Jesus. On the last day, should Judas stand before God and say, “But I didn't understand,” God Almighty will say from the throne, “The very last words My loving and merciful Son spoke to you were designed to wake you up to the danger of your soul, and you closed your heart to Him.” This is a warning for us all, because the thing standing between the love and mercy of Jesus and Judas is not Jesus’ willingness.

I want to say, because I talk to so many parents who long to find the words to tell their children so they will trust the Lord, that even the Savior spoke words of love and found rejection. There is no magic word that we can say. That is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a human being to open the eyes up to see sin and to turn from sin to run to God. Judas thought that in doing what he was doing he was going to find the satisfaction that he was looking for, but Jesus knew that the road paved before Him was paved to destruction. And in His kindness He said, “Don't do this Judas, because I'm not the one on trial here, you are.”

II. Healed by His Hand Secondly, immediately after this remarkable scene, a fight breaks out. The disciples recognize what's about to happen, so they say, “Lord, this time are You ready for us to fight for You?” Before Jesus can answer, Peter springs into action and cuts off the right ear of the chief priest's chief servant. And Jesus stops him and heals His assailant.

There are several things I want you to see in this. First of all, the important thing that Jesus understands at this point is not to go on the offensive and attack but to accept the providence of God in this moment. The false charge that the Jews are going to bring against Jesus to the Romans is that He is the leader of a rebellion against Roman rule, as well as a blasphemer claiming to be the Messiah. So Jesus must immediately establish that He has no intention of fighting this Roman cohort. It's very important that He and His disciples respond in that way so that it is seen again, even by His accusers, that their accusations are false.

But here's something I think that's very important for us to recognize as well. J. C. Ryle comments on this passage that it is far easier to fight for Christ than to endure hardship for Him, but it is when we endure hardship that we bring Him the most glory. There is a great reminder in this about our acceptance of the hard providences of God in our lives and the role that that plays in our witness to Christ.

The last thing I want you to see is this. Do you realize that soon after the events recorded here, Jesus’ hands will be bound until they are attached to a cross? The very last act that Jesus’ free hand performs is to reach out and heal the ear of one who was His assailant. Jesus not only spoke but did deeds of love and mercy to the very end. And it is a picture of the Gospel, isn't it? You may feel that you are beyond the love of Christ, but Jesus’ final words to Judas are words of love and mercy, and His final act towards the high priest's servant is an act of love and mercy. No one is beyond the love and mercy of Christ.

III. Rebuked with a Word

One last scene. Look at verses 52 and 53. Jesus’ response to the assembled crowd is a word of rebuke. It's a display of God's sovereignty even in the face of the evil of man. Jesus said, “Have you come out against a robber with swords and clubs? I've been in the temple every day. You could have arrested Me then. You didn't have to come out at night with swords and clubs.” But of course they were up to no good, and they knew it, and they knew they’d get in trouble with the people. Jesus is saying to them, “The fact that you have chosen to do this now, under the cover of darkness, shows the darkness of your own hearts.”

But just picture for a second the ridiculousness of this. This is the Word who was in the beginning, who spoke into being a universe that stretches 13.7 billion light years across. And they have swords and clubs? Fine! He's in complete control. He says to them, “You've chosen this cover of darkness, but My Father is in control, and the only reason that you are going to take Me from this garden is because I have let you take Me.”

The actions of Judas and of the chief priest's servant and of all of this assembled crowd God would use for the saving of millions of souls. And Jesus knows that. So the trial for them, though they think it is a trial for Him, is actually, “Who's side are you going to be on?” And that's the question before us today. It may well be in the trials of your life that this trial is pressed back on you. Will you run to what you think your hope and satisfaction is in and reject Jesus, or will you run to Jesus and reject your sin? That's the trial that all the people in that garden faced that night. Some of them did not pass that test, and so let the words of Hebrews 12:25 ring in your ears: “Do not reject His voice.”