Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53
"But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” – Matthew 26:56 NLT
It had to happen this way. The moment had finally arrived for Jesus to be arrested and turned over the authorities. This would set in motion a chain of events that would usher in His death. To the disciples it was a nightmare come true. It was their worst fears realized. Their Messiah was being arrested and, to make matters worse, it was at the hands of the religious leaders. The men who had come to arrest Jesus were not Roman soldiers, but members of the Temple Guard who answered to Caiaphas, the high priest. They were shocked at what they witnessed happening. They offered to put up a fight. One of them even took a sword and attacked a slave of the high priest, slashing off his ear. We know from John's account, that this was Peter, always the impulsive one. It's interesting that he attacked the one person there who was probably unarmed. Peter didn't go after one of the members of the Temple Guard. But his action reveals how he felt about what was going on. This was not what he or the other disciples were expecting. It was not how they had dreamed this grand adventure with Jesus was going to turn out.
But Jesus viewed the night's events from a different perspective. He told Peter to put away his sword and assured him that He didn't need His help. "Don't you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?" (Matthew 26:53 NLT). To Peter's shock and dismay, Jesus was revealing that this was NOT a case of helplessness or powerlessness. Jesus was not being caught off guard or left with no other options. No, this entire evening was exactly as it was meant to be. Jesus could have called down the angelic forces to defend Him, but that was NOT part of God's plan. Remember, just a few minutes before in the garden, Jesus had prayed three different times, "Yet I want your will to be done, not mine" (Matthew 26:39 NLT). Every single aspect of this night's events were part of a well-orchestrated plan by God. They had been prophesied by God centuries earlier. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before his shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away" (Isaiah 53:7-8 NLT). Jesus made it clear that if He chose to call down angels and wipe out those who had come to arrest Him, it would prevent the fulfilling of the plan. "But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?" (Matthew 26:54 NLT). Even the timing of His arrest was part of God's plan. They had had every opportunity to arrest Jesus before, but it was meant to happen on this night and in this manner. "But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures" (Matthew 26:56 NLT).
From this moment on, every single aspect of Jesus' arrest, His trials, beatings, crucifixion and death, were all in fulfillment of God's redemptive plan. This was not a last-minute, knee-jerk reaction on God's part. He was not responding out of desperation or attempting to counter the actions of the religious leaders. He was not caught off guard. He was behind every move being made, including the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. What was about to happen in the coming hours was fully under the control of our all-powerful, all-knowing God. He had planned the following sequence of events from before the time when the world was made. Because He knew this would be the only way to redeem mankind to Himself. Once mankind had sinned against Him, there would be no other way to restore them to a right relationship with Himself, unless a high price was paid. His perfectly holy, righteous and sinless Son would have to take on human flesh, live among those He had created and yet who had turned against Him, and then die in their place on a cross. He would take on their sins and the punishment they deserved at the hands of a fully just and righteous Judge, providing them with a way to be reconciled with God. It had to happen this way. As repulsive and repugnant as it all seems to be, it was the one and only solution to man's dilemma. And Peter had tried to stop it. This was not the first time he had tried to stand in the way of God's plan. From the first moment Jesus had begun to tell the disciples that He was going to have to die, Peter had taken Him aside and reprimanded Him. He had told Jesus, "Heaven forbid, Lord. This will never happen to you!" (Matthew 16:22 NLT). And Jesus responded angrily, "Get away from me Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God's" (Matthew 16:23 NLT). By attempting to prevent what was clearly part of God's plan, Peter was playing into the hands of the enemy. Satan would love nothing better than to prevent Jesus from fulfilling His God-given ministry. But Satan, because he is not all-knowing, had no idea that killing Jesus was part of God's plan. He thought the demise of Jesus would be the end of the story. But even he had become a pawn in the divine plan of God. It had to be this way. It had to happen just as God had ordained it to happen. There was no plan B. And Jesus knew that His arrest was simply the first stage of the plan. There would be more to come. It would get worse before it got better. But it WOULD get better. Because God had a plan.
Father, it is so easy to forget that You ALWAYS have a plan. You are never caught off guard or surprised by anything that happens on this planet. You are in full control and are never in heaven wringing Your hands in worry. Never let me forget that. Give me the ability to see world events through Your eyes and not my own. Don't let me be like Peter and see things from merely a human point of view. Help me see Your perspective. Amen.