In the Garden: The Arrest

Have you ever lost control of your own body? Some medical conditions can cause one to lose control over limbs, certain areas of the body, or even their entire body. Have you ever been tied? Has anyone ever "manhandled" you, or held you as to restrict your bodily movement? Such things may be far from enjoyable experiences, but they are fairly common to the human experience. There is always someone physically stronger than us. No matter how strong we may be, it is never that difficult for multiple people to retrain us and basically force us to do whatever they desire.

As mortal human beings, we need to realize that we are never fully in control of anything. For one thing, we are not in control of our life force. Yahweh, our God is the self-existent being of the universe (see Exodus 3:13-14; John 5:26; and others). He is the one with inherent and absolute authority over all flesh (John 17:1-3). It is only "in Him that we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). "For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand" (Psalm 95:7). We are far from being in control of the future, but we serve a God who is in control of the future and, ultimately, all things.

They were about to leave the upper room and cross the dry waterbed of the Kidron (John 18:1), and Jesus was praying, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son that the Son may glorify You, since you have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom You have given Him" (John 17:1-2).

The band of soldiers were probably busy gathering their weapons and gear. The military men, along with the chief priests and Jewish elders, would enter the garden of Gethsemane with swords, clubs, and torches (John 18:3; cf. Luke 22:52). It is possible that as many as 200-600 soldiers (a Roman cohort or band – a tenth of a legion) would soon convene on the ground that was graced by the prostrate face of the Son of Man (see Matthew 26:39). Judas knew this customary place of devotion (John 18:3).

Just moments after He arises from the ground, the group of soldiers, temple officers, and Jewish leaders approach the small group of sleepy and sorrowful men. Can you picture the scene with your mind's eye? Do you see the few hundred soldiers with their grim, possibly confused, faces? What about the envious and eager Jews? Do you see the dismayed, angry, and questioning reaction of the eleven apostles? Of course, Judas is there with maybe a regretful frown or possibly (at this point) a smirk of betrayal reflected upon his countenance.

But do you see Him? You know, the one covered in sweat and maybe even blood? The one who steps forward into the torchlight to ask a question He already knows the answer to, the one who declares, "I am", and about 400 of the toughest men on Earth fall back and to their knees (John 18:4-6)? Do you see the fleshly jacketed God of Israel protecting His own (John 18:7-9), and healing the slave of His adversary (John 18:10-11)?

Please do not neglect this next verse, where John records, "So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him" (John 18:12). Do you truly realize what occurred here in a garden in Palestine around 30 A.D.? Try reading the text this way: "So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested God and bound God." They did what? They bound the hands of the Supreme Ruler of the universe? The God who speaks things into existence, who created the hands that seize Him, who made the materials of the rope tied up? The King of glory, wrapped in human form, allows Himself to be bound by the cords of mortal men!

God is arrested by the breathing dust He created. What a paradox, and what a touching display of love and humility (cf. Philippians 2:5-8)! With a word to His Father, He could have easily ended it all right then and there (see Matthew 26:53). He did not have to endure these things, but He chose to for you and me.

Notice also that John says that, "they led Him to Annas" (John 18:13a). Yahweh, who created the starlit blanket of sky, is quietly led away with His hands tied behind His back. The one who breaks nations like a ceramic dish places Himself in the custody of sinful men (Psalm 2). If only they had known who they were leading off into the night for "trial"...but as Isaiah writes,

"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,

yet He opened not His mouth;

like a lamb that is led to slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so He opened not His mouth" (Isaiah 53:7).

He was bound by sinful men, in order that sinful men might have liberty from the bonds of sin and death (2 Timothy 1:8-10). He was arrested by His enemies so that we may may live in the liberty of His covenant (Galatians 4:1-7).

Are you submitting to His control today (cf. Philippians 2:9-11)? Are you a faithful subject in His kingdom (cf. Colossians 1:13-14)? Are even your very thoughts held as captives of His will (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:5-6)?


This post is soon to be published within a collection of articles/chapters related to the Lord's Supper. The upcoming book will be published by Cobb Publishing (