A Word to the Multitude of Armed Men
Text: Matthew 26 : 45 - 56
Jesus had never been afraid of crowds! The sheer size of the multitudes never made Him nervous. He was not afraid of speaking to thousands of people. He knew the Scriptures so well, and He was always so thoroughly prepared that He was able to exude the greatest sense of confidence and authority as He addressed the masses.
He was never intimidated by the kind of problems that He had to deal with when He faced multitudes. There were those who were desperately ill. But He was never afraid that He would run out of power to heal ALL who came. Among the multitudes were some who were possessed by demons. If ever there was a test of power, the demons would provide that challenge. However, in reality, the demons beheld Jesus in terror. No demon was able to withstand a word of command from Jesus! They were compelled to obey instantly!
The multitude that stood before Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane was different. They were armed to the teeth. They were in no mood to hear Jesus expound the Scriptures! Should Jesus be afraid of this extremely hostile multitude? Not Jesus! He who had the assurance that there were twelve legions of angels backing Him up would not be intimidated by this multitude of soldiers armed only with swords and clubs! But before Jesus addressed them, He first had to put things right. Whereas Matthew assumed the fact that Malchus, the servant of the high priest was healed, the synoptist Luke made a note that Jesus did indeed heal this servant.
“And He touched his ear and healed him.”
Jesus then went on to address the armed multitude as normally and as calmly as He always did in the past.
“In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes,
‘Have you come out, as against a robber,
with swords and clubs to take Me?
I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple,
and you did not seize Me. But all this was done
that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.’
Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.”
WHAT HAD THE MULTITUDES LEARNED?
The words that Jesus spoke held great truths! They revealed much about the make-up of the multitudes.
1. Wrong perceptions of Jesus
Why had they come up against Jesus with swords and clubs? That revealed much about how they must have perceived Jesus.
a) They were never quite sure about Jesus in the first place.
Some thought that He was one of the prophets. Others thought that He was John the Baptiser risen from the dead. Still others even suspected that he was in league with Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24).
b) An extreme view of Jesus
There were some who held an extreme view of Jesus. They believed that somehow Jesus was in league with demonic powers, perhaps even in league with Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24). If Jesus was in league with demonic powers, then he was no better than a robber. And how does one deal with notorious robbers? Swords and clubs would seem appropriate to bring along when an arrest of robbers was about to be made.
2. “I sat daily with you, teaching in the Temple, and you did not seize Me”
As much as Jesus decried the use of the sword, as the solution to problems, with reference to His disciples, He also ridiculed the idea of coming to arrest Him with swords and clubs. Did they not realize that their appearance with swords and clubs would trigger off violent reactions? Swords and clubs have never solved anything permanently!
a) An open ministry
What had the chief priests and elders filled their minds with? Had they managed to convince them that Jesus was no better than a blackguard robber? Surely, they must have caught sight of Him in the Temple? He was always out in the open! Why not arrest Him in the open? Why resort to swords and clubs?
b) “Teaching in the Temple”
Jesus had taught in the Temple. He had been there daily teaching those who came to him. Surely, all knew Him as a Teacher! Would swords and clubs be the weapons needed to arrest a Teacher of the Word of God?
c) “You did not seize Me”
There were ample opportunities to arrest Jesus in the open! Why attempt this arrest so surreptitiously? How ridiculous to come to Jesus as if He was a notorious robber!
d) “That the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled”
Once again, Jesus mentioned the Scriptures. The events that had just unfolded revealed and demonstrated once again the veracity of the Scriptures! The enemies must have thought that they were in control of the situation, with all their nefarious plotting. But they were wrong. They were doing nothing more than what God had allowed for, and they were all written in the Scriptures – and they must be fulfilled!
“THEN ALL THE DISCIPLES FORSOOK HIM AND FLED”
Had not the Scriptures predicted this event too (Zechariah 13:7)? Had not Jesus also brought this fact to the attention of His disciples (Matthew 26:31)?