Matthew 26:47-56

47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.

48 And the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”

49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.

50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.

51 And see, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.

52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. Because all who take up the sword will die by the sword.

53 Do you think that I am unable to appeal to my Father, and he would immediately send me more than twelve legions of angels?

54 But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled, that say it must be like this?”

55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me.

56 But all this has taken place so that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.


Perhaps Peter, who was the swordsman in this event, [1] thought that this was the showdown. Perhaps he thought that they had come to the time of testing, and Jesus wanted to know if he was willing to die defending his master. Yes, this was the time of testing alright, but not that way. The real test was to see whether Jesus would be willing to allow himself to be arrested, humiliated, and killed without interfering. Lest we think that Jesus was merely teaching pacifism here, he adds that “this has taken place so that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Jesus knew what was coming, and his choice to allow his own arrest was for our good. He loved this world he created so much that he was not going to let self-preservation get in the way of its rescue.

For you and me, showdown will come as well. There will be moments when we will be forced to choose between what we want and what is ultimately right. In those times, what we want will be defendable, but wrong. In those times, my prayer for us is that we will see our master holding his hand up, keeping us from doing something stupid.

LORD, help us to see your halting hand in the showdown times. May we have the wisdom to do what is right, not just what we can defend.

[1] John 18:10.


About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is a former Christian missionary who now lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. If your church or small group would like to hear Jeff speak, you can contact him at -- !
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