Jesus and His disciples finished praying in the upper room, and departed for a nearby garden just outside of Jerusalem. Hours earlier, Judas had departed in haste into the night, but the other disciples had not taken much note of that. Directly outside the city of Jerusalem was a valley, the Valley of Kidron (spelled “Cedron” in the Gospel of John). Winding through the Valley of Kidron is a brook, that flowed from one end of the valley to the other, with Jerusalem and the temple one side of the valley, and the Mount of Olives and the garden of Gethsemane on the other.
The trip across the brook and up to Gethsemane was a familiar one to Jesus and His disciples, because He frequently retreated from Jerusalem to there to pray and to rest. This was a familiar place to all of His disciples, including Judas. As John records the story, He makes an extra note to inform the reader that Judas was very familiar with this place of quiet and respite. We find in the other gospel accounts that Jesus arrived in the garden and began praying. His prayer in the garden was one of agony, accented by the indifference of His sleepy disciples.
While Jesus and the eleven disciples were headed to the garden, Judas was busily gathering an army of guards and soldiers who could come and arrest Jesus and His disciples. Now, at this point, some reading the story might realize that there is a seeming discrepancy in the details. John has spent a massive amount of time convincing the reader that Jesus is God. There were times where the power of Jesus was demonstrated in His telling the disciples what they were thinking of in that moment. But if He knew the thoughts of their hearts, then He would have known that Judas was going to bring a group of soldiers to arrest Him. If He knew this was going to happen, why would He have ever gone to Gethsemane and allowed Himself to be trapped like this?
The answer to this dilemma is quite simple, really. This seeming discrepancy is not a discrepancy at all. Jesus knew exactly what Judas was going to do, which is why He sent Judas away in John 13:27. Jesus was not falling into a trap. He was walking willingly into the most horrible scenario anyone could have ever fathomed, and His eyes were wide open. There was no surprise, and there was no astonishment. Jesus had come to earth for this moment. Just as He had prayed moments earlier, now, His hour of purpose had finally arrived.
On this Passover night, with the slaughtering of tens of thousands of lambs in Jerusalem for the annual remembrance of God’s provision for and salvation of His people, the omniscient Jesus walked confidently into the arms of the betrayer and His arresting hoard. This was not an accident. He was not tricked. He was finally fulfilling what He had come to do - die a sacrificial death for the sins of His people. Satan, Judas, and the entire crowd that hated Jesus imagined that they had pulled one over on Him, but as they yanked the rope of entrapment around Jesus, they simply tightened the noose on their own necks. It would cost Him His life, but He would be victorious by the end of the day.
Food For Thought: Was Jesus surprised by the army of soldiers that came with Judas? Explain your answer.