Share This Episode
Renewing Your Mind R.C. Sproul Logo

The Arrest of Jesus

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 18, 2024 12:01 am

The Arrest of Jesus

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1549 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

February 18, 2024 12:01 am

Jesus could have called on the angels to deliver Him from betrayal and arrest. Instead, He submitted Himself to suffering for our sake. In today's sermon from the gospel of John, R.C. Sproul teaches on the necessity of Christ's active and passive obedience for our salvation.

Get R.C. Sproul's Commentary on the book of John for Your Gift of Any Amount:

Don't forget to make your home for daily in-depth Bible study and Christian resources.

A donor-supported outreach of Ligonier Ministries. Explore all of our podcasts:


He's assenting, surrendering, acquiescing in obedience to the Father to be our substitute in His death. And so He makes no attempt to flee. He will not allow His disciples to fight.

Rather, He says, take Me away. Jesus accomplished salvation for His people not only during the hours that He hung on the cross, but through His obedience throughout His entire life. And what theologians call His passive obedience began, as you'll hear R.C. Sproul preach today, the moment He got up from His knees in the Garden of Gethsemane, which led to His arrest. Welcome to the Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind, and I'm glad you're with us as we begin a new sermon series in the Gospel of John. Between now and Resurrection Sunday, Dr. Sproul will guide us through the arrest of Jesus, His trial, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. These sermons are from his line-by-line series through John, which became his expositional commentary. And you can request the hardcover edition of that commentary until midnight at If you've got your Bible with you, today will be in John chapter 18.

Here's Dr. Sproul. This morning I will be reading from chapter 18, verses 1 through 14. So I'd ask the congregation at this point to stand for the reading of the Gospel. When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with His disciples.

And then Judas, having received the detachment of troops and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. And Jesus, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, whom are you seeking? They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. And Jesus said to them, I am He.

And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, I am He, they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, whom are you seeking? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. And Jesus answered, I've told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way, that the same may be fulfilled, which He spoke of those whom you gave Me.

I have lost none. And then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. And the servant's name was Malchus. And so Jesus said to Peter, put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me? Then the detachment of troops, and the captain, and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Annas first, for He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year.

Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. He has ears to hear the Word of God. Let them hear it.

You may be seated. Let us pray. Father, we're really not interested in the opinions of men, the insights of the philosophers, or the verdict of the psychologists. We can't come today looking for psychological therapy or for social hints, for hints for self-improvement, but we've come to hear from You, from Your Word. And so we beg this morning for the illumination of the Holy Ghost, for our benefit as we explore the words of this text.

We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen. I have vivid memories of Nick Green's orchard. Now the problem I find as I grow old is that my memories from childhood tend to expand the size of things.

Too long ago I had the opportunity to visit the house I grew up in, and I was shocked to see how little it was because when I looked at it through the eyes of a child, it seemed larger than life to me then. And so perhaps the same tricks are assaulting my memories when I think about Nick Green's orchard. When I think of it, I remember it as a place that boasted of many, many rows of grapevines, and then row upon row of apple trees, of pear trees, of peach trees, and the length of the orchard to the best of my recollection was somewhere between 175 and 200 yards.

Now probably when I go back and look at it someday, I'll find it's only 30 or 40 yards, but my memory tells me it was at least 200 yards. And there was a path that went through Nick Green's orchard. It didn't go straight. It meandered round about the apple trees. But that path was significant to my life because it connected McClellan Drive, the end of McClellan Drive, which was the street I lived on, and the back of Harold Wiggles' grocery store and butcher shop. These were before they had supermarkets, and every day I would be sent up to the Harold's store to buy a loaf of bread or a sack of potatoes or whatever, and I would always go through Nick Green's orchard. Well, I like to go through Nick Green's orchard except at night, and particularly at night in the winter, because right behind Harold Wiggles' store, right at the entrance to the pathway into this dark now orchard was this was this huge tree with gnarled limbs, and when the leaves were vacant, it looked like it was some kind of specter that threatened the life out of me. And what made it worse was when there was a full moon, because instead of diminishing my fear, that full moon heightened the terror of those long boughs that came from this mammoth tree.

And so when I would make that trip at night, I would start from behind Harold Wiggles' store, and I would run as fast as I could that 175 to 200 yards, which maybe was only 30, until I got to the safety of McClellan Drive. Now, I don't know why you think I'm telling you this story, except I can't help but remember that place in my life when I read the biblical account of the arrest of Jesus, because the arrest of Jesus took place at night. And since it was the night before the Passover, it was the night of the full moon. And the place where this takes place presumably are on the banks of the Mount of Olives near the Garden of Gethsemane. And if you've ever been to Palestine, if you've ever been to Israel, you know that the city of Bethany is east of the city of Jerusalem, sitting on the far side of the Mount of Olives. And then you have this slope that goes down to the Brook of Kidron, which lies about 200 feet below the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. And so the Mount of Olives is this steep slope that in Jesus' day was filled with these huge olive trees that would be two or three hundred years old, and they were all gnarled and fashioned a lot like that tree behind Harold Wiggles' grocery store. Of course, after 70 AD, the Mount of Olives was no longer the Mount of Olives. It was completely stripped of every tree as the Romans besieged the city of Jerusalem, and they camped on the Mount of Olives, and they cut down every single olive tree to use for firewood. But the night on which Jesus was betrayed, those trees were there, and they were these huge groves of olive trees, and off to one side, obviously, a portion owned by a private producer of olive oil was the place where the presses were used, and the language here in the Greek suggests that there was a section that was walled in and that Jesus went in there. Now John doesn't give us the account of Christ's agony in Gethsemane.

The other gospel writers tell us how He sweat droplets of blood from His forehead as He begged the Father to let that cup pass from Him. But John passes right over that with hardly a mention to bring us to the account of the arrest there in the garden. And one word about, again, the topography and the landscape there. The brook Kedron, you may think of that as a nice, beautifully flowing stream that separates the Mount of Olives from the city of Jerusalem, but it was really a wadi. And if you understand that word, you know that wadis were like arroyos or dry gulches, that the only time they had water in them was during the two rainy seasons, the early rains or the former rains and the latter rains. And when the rains would come, they would all pour off the desert floor and go into these dry gulches or these gullies and become torrential, rushing waterways that were dangerous.

But for most of the time, the creek bed was dry, and people could just simply walk across it without any difficulty. So that's the site where all of this is taking place at night. One other point is that when pilgrims came into Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, it was required of them that they spend the night before within the broader vicinity of Jerusalem. And this section where Jesus met with His disciples was considered within the limits but He didn't stay in Bethany because Bethany was outside the visitation limits. And so that's why He's here rather than at the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus at Bethany where He often stayed because it's the time for the Passover. So we read that He went out from the upper room with His disciples over the brook Kidron where there was a garden which He and His disciples entered. And Judas who betrayed Him also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with His disciples.

Now that little detail is significant. Jesus in the upper room had said that Judas was going to betray Him. He dismissed Him to that diabolical task.

He said, Whatever you have to do, do quickly. Now Jesus knowing that when Judas left, He was headed for the authorities to commit His act of betrayal, you would think if Jesus were trying to escape this arrest that He would have gone anywhere else than to a common place of staying that He knew perfectly well Judas was aware of. It's only natural that when Judas gets his payment from the authorities that he would lead the arresting officers to this place near the brook of Kidron where Jesus frequently met with His disciples. And so Jesus in a sense almost goes out of His way to be apprehended, and that will be significant I hope we will see in a few moments. And so we read that Judas, having received a detachment of troops and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.

Lanterns, cannons, torches, and weapons. Now notice that John tells us there were two groups of people that came here with Judas for the purpose of arresting Jesus. The first group is called simply a detachment, and then the second group refers to the temple police that the authorities scribes and the Pharisees and the Sadducees would send out. So what we have here is a joint operation between the Jewish authorities, the temple police, we don't know how many of those were in this number, and the Romans. Now normally the Romans didn't have a large garrison of troops in Jerusalem. The soldiers of Rome were stationed in Caesarea, but they would come to Jerusalem at the time of the feast because hundreds of thousands of Jews from all around the region would flood into Jerusalem for the Passover, and in order to ensure riot control and to protect against a local insurrection, the Roman authorities would send a detachment of troops and house them in the Antonia housing facility right next to the quarters of Pontius Pilate.

Now we know that. We also know that a detachment of Roman soldiers on paper numbered one thousand men, a thousand soldiers ruled over by what was called a chili arc, and however that normally they wouldn't have a complete complement of the paper numbers, and so the estimates are that on this occasion the troops that came out to arrest Jesus of Roman origin would be somewhere between six and seven hundred soldiers. Add to that the temple police, and you get some picture of what is going on here in the darkness of the night when almost a thousand men are sent out to capture one man. I don't know if you understand the size of a group that large, but if you look around the room here, there are about five hundred people in this room right now.

Imagine each one of you was a soldier, and each one of you had a torch or a lantern. So long before this entourage of arresting officers came to the place where Jesus was waiting for them, they could hear them coming, and obviously they could see them coming because they were carrying these lanterns and torches, and they could hear the clanging of swords at their side. So this is larger than any SWAT team that you can ever imagine that it is coming out now to arrest our Lord.

So we read the account. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, whom are you seeking? He didn't fall back into the shadows. He didn't hide behind His disciples, but Jesus takes the initiative, steps up to the front, greets these soldiers if they come and said, who are you looking for? And they say, Jesus of Nazareth. And there's Judas standing right there with them. And Jesus says, ego, emi.

Have you heard that before? Throughout John's gospel, we've looked at the I am's of Jesus. I am the door.

I am the vine. I am the way, the truth, and the life. How that Jesus uses that structure of the language which literally means I am, I am, or I, I am, which is the way the Greek translates the sacred name of God, Yahweh, in the Old Testament Hebrew. And so when now they're looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus does it again. He says, ego, emi, I am. And as soon as He says it, there's a remarkable reaction.

Listen to what it says again. Now when He said to them, I am He, they drew back and fell to the ground. This mass of soldiers, when they confront Jesus and Jesus says, I am He, they retreat.

They fall on the ground. There were two groups of people that night who were terrified. The first group were the disciples. You can imagine the fear that enveloped them when they heard the swords clanging, when they saw the lanterns moving, they saw the torches approaching. They know that the rest of Jesus and His followers is imminent, and they've got to be shaking in their booth. But the group that was more afraid than the disciples were the soldiers. Remember, this is the Jesus who they had tried to arrest before, and He walked right through them.

And because they thought they had Him outnumbered, let's assume as many of us as a thousand soldiers, a thousand to one. Doesn't this remind you of Moses between Migdal and the sea? Doesn't this remind you instantly of the situation of peril that Elisha found himself in at Dothan when he was surrounded on all sides by the soldiers of the enemy?

And to the naked eye for Moses it was hopeless. He sees a sea in front of him. He sees a sea of chariots behind him. And Elisha's servant says, my Lord, Elisha, do something. We're surrounded by these chariots in the east, the west, the north, and the south. Elisha says, calm down.

Don't you know that those who are with us are more than those who are against us? And Elisha's servant looks out the window, and he sees all this horde of chariots. And he looks at Elisha, and he says, one, two. He says, you don't get it, Elisha. And Elisha says, Lord, open his eyes. Let him see beyond the veil.

Let him see reality as it is at this very moment. And God opens the eyes of the servant of Elisha, and lo, chariots of fire, myriads of angels round about Elisha, and they put the Syrian soldiers to rout, just as God drowned the army of Egypt in the Red Sea. Now we know throughout the life of Jesus that His every move is attended by the angels from heaven. You don't think Jesus knew that He was surrounded at that moment by the heavenly host? And why is the heavenly host called a host? Not because it's an emcee to a banquet.

The term host here means army. He knew the Word of God, that God would give His angels charge over Him, and Jesus knew at the moment of His arrest after He had gotten off His knees from that agonizing prayer in the garden. Jesus knows all He has to do is say the Word. And every one of those soldiers would be destroyed, and it's almost as if they understood that too, because they've never encountered anyone like Jesus before. So when He says, I am He, they fall back. What's He going to do?

But He doesn't call on the angels. He asked them again, Who are you looking for? Whom are you seeking? And again they replied, Jesus of Nazareth. And Jesus said, I've told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way, that the saying may be fulfilled which He spoke. Of those whom you gave Me, I have lost none. Here I am, Jesus. I am the one you're looking for. Let these other men go.

You don't need them. I'm the one you're after. Right now Jesus is not concerned for Jesus' safety, but He is concerned for the safety of His disciples. And then Peter, the impetuous one, takes out his dagger, which is really what it was, more of a dagger than a sword, and takes a wild swing at one of the guards, cuts off his ear. Good aim, Peter.

Obviously, he wasn't very skilled in a dagger. John's the only one who tells us the name of the man. The other gospel writers tell us that Jesus put the man's ear back on before He rebuked Peter and told Peter, put your sword away.

Now do you see what's happening? Jesus says, calm down, Peter. Put your weapon away. He says to them, you don't need your weapons.

Take Me away. Now in theology, when we talk about the work of Jesus by which we are redeemed, we talk about the obedience of Christ, which is the basis for our salvation. And when we talk about the merit of Christ and the righteousness of Christ and the obedience of Christ, we make this distinction in theology that I think is a very important distinction, one that's often overlooked, between what we call the active obedience of Christ and the passive obedience of Christ. And I've said to you many times before that both are necessary, that if Jesus would have come down from heaven on a parachute, gone straight to Golgotha, gone to the cross, paid for our sins, that would not be enough to save us.

The cross pays the negative penalty that we deserve. But in God's covenant with His people, God required, A, that sins be punished, B, that true righteousness be achieved. And it's not only that Jesus died for our sins, but He also lived the perfect life of obedience for our justification. He earned the righteousness that you need, that you don't have, that I don't have in and of ourselves. Jesus had to earn that. That's why He's born as a baby, and He grows up under the law, and His sinless life is absolutely essential to our justification. That is, He has to act out obedience to the law of God. We saw that at His baptism when John didn't want to baptize Him, and Jesus said, You have to baptize Me. It's necessary.

Why? To fulfill all righteousness. So Jesus spends thirty years or so actively obeying every law that God had ever given, not only to the human race in general, but to Israel in particular. That's what we mean by His perfect, active obedience. But when we talk about His passive obedience, we talk about that obedience where He is not acting to acquire righteousness, but rather He's allowing Himself passively to be the vast victim of our guilt. And His passive surrender to this punishment doesn't start at the cross. It starts the minute He gets off His knees in the Garden of Gethsemane. That's when He takes the cup and He acquiesces to the vocation that the Father had set before Him, and now He stands and says, Here I am.

I'm the one you're looking for. He's assenting, surrendering, acquiescing in obedience to the Father to be our substitute in His death. And so He makes no attempt to flee. He will not allow His disciples to fight. Rather He says, Take Me away. Like the lamb that is led to the slaughter, He opens not His mouth. Like the lamb before the shears is dumb, so passively Jesus goes to His rendezvous with death.

Put your sword away, Peter. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me? Jesus doesn't care about the priests or the Roman soldiers. He's not there to obey them.

He's there to obey His Father to drink the cup. And so they take Him. They bind Him, and they led Him away first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.

You remember it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the nation. And so they lead Him to the hall of judgment. And next week, God willing, will examine this completely illegal, lawless, kangaroo court trial to which Jesus was subjected that night.

Let's pray. Father, what kind of love is this that He would go so quietly for us and drink that hellish cup that You set before Him. We thank You not only for His act of obedience through His life of sinlessness, but we thank You now for His passive obedience by which He became the Lamb of God for us. Amen.

That was R.C. Sproul on the arrest of Jesus from John chapter 18. And thanks for being with us for this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. Even in the midst of the death of Jesus, each week Dr. Sproul will walk us through the events leading up to Jesus' resurrection as recorded for us in the Gospel of John. But if you'd like to study that entire Gospel, you can request R.C. Sproul's expositional commentary on John when you give a gift of any amount at Based on the sermon series that he preached at St. Andrew's Chapel, it's a wonderful resource to be read bit by bit for daily devotional reading or as a tool for deeper Bible study. Request the hardcover edition today at, but be quick as this offer ends at midnight. After Jesus' arrest, there is His trial, a kangaroo court, as R.C. Sproul called it, and we'll consider that and Peter's denial of Jesus next Sunday, here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-18 02:50:10 / 2024-02-18 03:00:16 / 10

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime