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In this passage everyone who was close to Jesus--from Judas to the disciples who planned to follow him to the death--either betrays or abandons him to his opponents. As Jesus faces injustice alone as a victim, he shows us the depth of his love: when not another human being stood with him, our Lord nevertheless continued in the Father's plan to save us.
Jesus' enemies (here probably the Levite temple police) came armed as if he were a l h st h (26:55), the term Josephus most frequently applies to revolutionaries (Moule 1965:119). They did not understand that the real threat Jesus posed was quite different--and that his execution would signal the beginning of his messianic triumph.
When we feign love for Jesus but our lives serve purposes more in line with his enemies' mission, we follow in the footsteps of the son of Simon Iscariot. Jesus responds by confronting Judas with his crime--after addressing him as friend, an appropriate title for a disciple (A. Bruce 1979:316) but earlier applied in Matthew to those behaving in a shameful manner (20:13; 22:12).
We who cannot love our enemies today (5:44) would have failed this test as readily as our spiritual forebears did. Jesus was doing the Father's will, and the Father still would have granted him twelve legions of angels (one for himself and each disciple) had he asked (26:53); but the Father had called him to face death for us. Angels will assist at the end (compare 13:41-42; 16:27; 24:30-31), but in the present time, for Jesus to depend on them for deliverance would be giving in to Satan's test (compare 4:5-7).
A disciple (named only in John) cut off the ear of the high priest's servant (presumably aiming for the man's neck, he missed, probably because the man moved). Jesus' response to the disciple--and to Matthew's community, which has probably survived the crisis of a Judean-Roman war--provides three reasons for rejecting violence (26:52-54; compare 5:39-42): violence destroys those who employ it (26:52); Jesus trusts the Father's ability to protect him (v. 53); and Jesus recognizes that his Father's will for him includes suffering (v. 54; Meier 1980:328).