Red Letter Year: 6/4

Matthew 26:47-58

47 And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

55 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56 But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

57 Then the people who had arrested Jesus led him to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of religious law and the elders had gathered. 58 Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and came to the high priest’s courtyard. He went in and sat with the guards and waited to see how it would all end.


A few moments before, Jesus was struggling in Gethsemane. Now he confidently declares that thousands of angels are at his disposal, but they must not be called on in order that his mission, the messianic mission foretold in Scripture may be completed. This marks a significant shift in Jesus’ thought and attitude, from one of shrinking from the moment to one of ample confidence. What caused this sudden change? It wasn’t his friends who have been sleeping, except for the one who is coming to betray him. The only other thing we have here is that Jesus has been praying, pouring out his despair to God, asking for a reprieve, submitting to the Father’s will. These were all the things Jesus said in prayer, what we read yesterday. What we have here is what Jesus heard in prayer, what the Father and Holy Spirit spoke back to him. He received a picture of angels standing ready. He heard again the words of the prophets. He was encouraged to complete the mission he had already accepted. Jesus had been predicting this moment for most of Matthew, even in the face of rebukes from the same disciples who are now sleeping and fleeing. Knowing it was coming did not give him this confidence, not even knowing the will of God shielded him from doubt and fear. But prayer did. Jesus poured out all he was thinking and feeling in that moment and the Holy Spirit poured back in truth, vision, and hope. If this was the experience of Jesus, how much more so for us?

The New Living Translation (NLT)Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.