Satan, finding himself baffled in his attempts to terrify our Lord Jesus, and so to put him out of the possession of his own soul, betakes himself (according to his usual method) to force and arms, and brings a party into the field to seize him, and Satan was in them. Here is,
I. The marking of him by Judas. Here a numerous party appears, and Judas at the head of them, for he was guide to them that took Jesus; they knew not where to find him, but he brought them to the place: when they were there, they knew not which was he, but Judas told them that whomsoever he should kiss, that same was he; so he drew near to him to kiss him, according to the wonted freedom and familiarity to which our Lord Jesus admitted his disciples. Luke takes notice of the question Christ asked him, which we have not in the other evangelists: Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? What! Isa. this the signal? Luke 22:48. Must the Son of man be betrayed, as if any thing could be concealed from him, and a plot carried on against him unknown to him? Must one of his own disciples betray him, as if he had been a hard Master to them, or deserved ill at their hands? Must he be betrayed with a kiss? Must the badge of friendship be the instrument of treachery? Was ever a love-token so desecrated and abused? Note, Nothing can be a greater affront or grief to the Lord Jesus than to be betrayed, and betrayed with a kiss, by those that profess relation to him and an affection for him. Those do so who, under pretence of zeal for his honour, persecute his servants, who, under the cloak of a seeming affection for the honour of free grace, give a blow to the root of holiness and strictness of conversation. Many instances there are of Christ’s being betrayed with a kiss, by those who, under the form of godliness, fight against the power of it. It were well if their own consciences would put this question to them, which Christ here puts to Judas, Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? And will he not resent it? Will he not revenge it?
II. The effort which his disciples made for his protection (Luke 22:49): When they saw what would follow, that those armed men were come to seize him, they said, “Lord, shall we smite with the sword? Thou didst allow us to have two swords, shall we now make use of them? Never was there more occasion; and to what purpose should we have them if we do not use them?” They asked the question as if they would not have drawn the sword without commission from their Master, but they were in too much haste and too much heat to stay for an answer. But Peter, aiming at the head of one of the servants of the high priest, missed his blow, and cut off his right ear. As Christ, by throwing them to the ground that came to take him, showed what he could have done, so Peter, by this exploit, showed what he could have done too in so good a cause if he had had leave. The other evangelists tell us what was the check Christ gave to Peter for it. Luke here tells us, 1. How Christ excused the blow: Suffer ye thus far, Luke 22:51. Dr. Whitby thinks he said this to his enemies who came to take him, to pacify them, that they might not be provoked by it to fall upon the disciples, whom he had undertaken the preservation of: “Pass by this injury and affront; it was without warrant from me, and there shall not be another blow struck.” Though Christ had power to have struck them down, and struck them dead, yet he speaks them fair, and, as it were, begs their pardon for an assault made upon them by one of his followers, to teach us to give good words even to our enemies. 2. How he cured the wound, which was more than amends sufficient for the injury: He touched his ear, and healed him; fastened his ear on again, that he might not so much as go away stigmatized, though he well deserved it. Christ hereby gave them a proof, (1.) Of his power. He that could heal could destroy if he pleased, which should have obliged them in interest to submit to him. Had they returned the blow upon Peter, he would immediately have healed him; and what could not a small regiment do that had such a surgeon to it, immediately to help the sick and wounded? (2.) Of his mercy and goodness. Christ here gave an illustrious example to his own rule of doing good to them that hate us, as afterwards he did of praying for them that despitefully use us. Those who render good for evil do as Christ did. One would have thought that this generous piece of kindness should have overcome them, that such coals, heaped on their heads, should have melted them, that they could not have bound him as a malefactor who had approved himself such a benefactor; but their hearts were hardened.
III. Christ’s expostulation with the officers of the detachment that came to apprehend him, to show what an absurd thing it was for them to make all this rout and noise, Luke 22:52, 53. Matthew relates it as said to the multitude. Luke tells us that it was said to the chief priests and captains of the temple the latter commanded the several orders of the priests, and therefore are here put between the chief priests and the elders, so that they were all ecclesiastics, retainers to the temple, who were employed in this odious piece of service; and some of the first rank too disparaged themselves so far as to be seen in it. Now see here,
1. How Christ reasons with them concerning their proceedings. What occasion was there for them to come out in the dead of the night, and with swords and staves? (1.) They knew that he was one that would not resist, nor raise the mob against them; he never had done any thing like this. Why then are ye come out as against a thief? (2.) They knew he was one that would not abscond, for he was daily with them in the temple, in the midst of them, and never sought to conceal himself, nor did they offer to lay hands on him. Before his hour was come, it was folly for them to think to take him; and when his hour was come it was folly for them to make all this ado to take him.
2. How he reconciles himself to their proceedings; and this we had not before: “But this is your hour, and the power of darkness. How hard soever it may seem that I should be thus exposed, I submit, for so it is determined. This is the hour allowed you to have your will against me. There is an hour appointed me to reckon for it. Now the power of darkness, Satan, the ruler of the darkness of this world, is permitted to do his worst, to bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, and I resolve to acquiesce; let him do his worst. The Lord shall laugh at him, for he sees that his day, his hour, is coming.” Ps. 37:13. Let this quiet us under the prevalency of the church’s enemies; let it quiet us in a dying hour, that, (1.) It is but an hour that is permitted for the triumph of our adversary, a short time, a limited time. (2.) It is their hour, which is appointed them, and in which they are permitted to try their strength, that omnipotence may be the more glorified in their fall. (3.) It is the power of darkness that rides master, and darkness must give way to light, and the power of darkness be made to truckle to the prince of light. Christ was willing to wait for his triumphs till his warfare was accomplished, and we must be so too.