The 14 Stations of the Cross
Station # 2: Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is Arrested
Then, while [Jesus] was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "the man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely." He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him. At this they laid hands on him and arrested him. (Mark 14: 43-46)
The scene suddenly changes, there is the noise of an approaching crowd. Judas, accompanied by a company of thugs armed with swords and clubs sent by the Chief Priests, the scribes and the elders. The Fathers of Israel, the leaders of the Faith, the moral compass of the Nation have done a dirty deal with a disillusioned, selfish disciple. Their hatred has finally boiled over, an opportune moment has arrived and they send a posse to make an illegal arrest of an innocent man. Judas had been paid in silver for his information and for identifying Jesus to the mob.
There is so much we could say here, but we are not interested in Judas, the mob or the corrupt religious leaders. We want to see Jesus.
Jesus has emerged from prayer. He is strengthened by Heaven, but still in pain, overcome with the griefs and pains that He as Messiah must carry. Look at Him as the mob approaches, the Prince of Peace standing in the midst of the storm. Waves crashing all around Him, but there He stands, unmoved, unafraid.
John 18:4 allows us more insight into the scene: Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, ‘For whom are you looking?
We see it now, not only had the Angel strengthened Him, but the Holy Spirit had also enlightened Him. The path was now set, the mission clear, whether Jesus as a man had fully appreciated what the Father had planned for Him, now all was crystal clear. “He knew all that was to happen to Him”.
At that moment Judas stepped forward to kiss him. It was a prearranged sign to identify Jesus to the mob. Jesus looks at him as he approaches and disarms his intention by saying: “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” There was no animosity, no sarcasm in His voice. Just love. Jesus was carrying Judas’ sin, He was bearing Judas embarrassment and pain. Yes, perhaps Judas' motive was to finally shock Jesus into rising up to be the conquering political Messiah he hoped He would be - but believe me, he was in significant pain as he approached. Betrayal is a costly game - whatever the motive.
And there, what Judas encounters in Jesus' voice and in His eyes is not condemnation but pure and holy love. Jesus loved him and Judas was overwhelmed.
The Lord of the storm looks away and addresses the angry waves, “who are you looking for?”. “Jesus of Nazareth” they reply.
Then, the most glorious transformation takes place. The suffering servant stands before them as Lord of all creation and declares: “I AM he”. The force of that statement has an instantaneous effect upon the mob. John tells us, "When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground". John 18:6. The waves of hatred and murder are suddenly stilled by the power of His voice. The mob is rendered powerless before Him.
There is a day when the Prince of Peace will return with a sword in His hand to execute judgment on the nations, but this is not that moment, Jesus identifies Himself, and Majesty surrenders itself so that sacrifice might be made for the Salvation of the world. Yes, even for this mob and their corrupt bosses.
Jesus walks forward to be bound and tried.
Jesus words in John 10:18 echo over the scene, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”