Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.
There are times in life when you just want to intimidate your opponent. You don’t want them to put up a fight. You just want them to lie down and give up. You bring so many people, assault rifles, bombs, troops, and whatever else you can think. You want the only possible choices are surrender or certain death.
This is exactly what happened in The West Wing. One of the people involved in the shooting of President Bartlett was on the run. When he steps out of a diner, the ground and skies are filled with people, lights, and weapons that are all pointed on the suspect. Everywhere he turns, there are people yelling at him to lie down on the ground with his hands behind his head. To disobey would mean being shot by dozens of law enforcement officials all at the same time.
Judas puts Jesus and his followers in exactly the same place. He comes with a crowd, and these people are not there to share a latte or talk. They brought short swords and clubs to stab or beat anyone that tried to stand in their way.
They have overwhelming odds.
They have overwhelming people.
They have overwhelming weapons.
They have overwhelming technology.
They have overwhelming force.
They have overwhelming experience.
They have come with only two possible outcomes:
Jesus is arrested.
Jesus is dead.
And I don’t think it would have mattered much to them which happened. They wanted Jesus. Dead or alive.
They also come with overwhelming authority. They come at the direction of, and with the approval of the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. That’s like having the local police, sheriff’s department, and the state police all outside. You’re surrounded. They all have warrants for your arrest, and nothing is going to move them from getting their hands on you.
Another way to think about it is that they have all three branches of government on their side. The governor, state legislature, and the courts have all voted and ruled that you’re to be arrested. They have all the power. They have all the rights. They have all the authority.
But the thing that makes this so hurtful is that the one leading this crowd, this mob, was one of Jesus’ own. One of his hand-chosen, closest followers. Judas was one of the twelve. He went where Jesus went. He heard all that Jesus said. He saw all that Jesus did.
He personally knew and experienced all that Jesus was. And yet he was willing to betray the most kind, powerful, and beautiful person in the history of the world.
It’s one thing to be betrayed by an enemy, or even an acquaintance. But it’s an entirely different thing to be betrayed by a friend. Someone from your inner circle. That’s a hurt, that’s a wound deeper and more painful than just about anything else.
When was the last time you were deeply hurt by a close friend? Remember the sting? The searing pain? The desperate loneliness? That’s exactly where we find Jesus.
You see, he understands what you’re going through. He knows what it’s like to be abandoned. To be left all alone. He was there so he has both the experience and the right to speak to us about our loneliness. About our pain.
We’re never alone when we walk with Jesus. He never abandons us. Never leaves us alone. Never walks away from us. He never hides. He’s always right there.
He knows, He knows
Every hurt and every sting
He has walked the suffering
He knows, He knows
Let your burdens come undone
Lift your eyes up to the one
I don’t think you can overkill how great that kind of love is.