As we come to the account of the arrest of Jesus, we must keep in mind that John’s goal in writing the Gospel according to John was to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus is in fact God. Up to this point, John has given clear testimony of the miraculous ministry of Jesus from the many unparalleled healings, to the unbelievable power over nature, and even His ability to supernaturally foretell everything that was currently transpiring in the gospel account at this moment. Jesus was undoubtedly God. The evidence was indomitable.
Furthermore, Jesus had clearly explained hours before that one of His own disciples would betray Him. With the arrival of Judas in the garden, Jesus confirmed His Deity, but the implications of that reality were lost on His disciples as the soldiers moved closer. Now, with the soldiers in the garden, torch light illumining their sweaty, bearded faces, Peter settled his palm on the handle of his sword. He certainly wasn’t as highly trained as the band of Roman soldiers that had come to arrest Jesus, but then again, between the two swords that the disciples had (Luke 22:38)and the power of Jesus, Peter must have figured they could have mustered the strength to overwhelm the midnight band of marauders.
The metal flashed in the darkness as Peter swung his cold blade at the head of the nearest guard, Malchus, smashing the side of his face and slicing off his ear. Immediately, Jesus stepped in and stayed the sword of Peter. By not fleeing, Jesus had already indicated that His desire was not escape. This was His hour. There was no need to fight His arrest; it was a clearly orchestrated unfolding of a divinely Sovereign plan. The Gospel of Luke tells us that as Jesus rebuked Peter, He also reached down and healed Malchus’s bleeding ear.
Jesus was God. Even in this moment. He did not need a sword in the hand of a fisherman to protect Him from a band of Roman infantrymen. God does not need protecting. He had demonstrated His power by briefly disabling the approaching troop with the breath of His words. If He wanted to stop this event, He didn’t need to use Peter’s inadequate swordsmanship. But He didn’t want to stop this event. This was Passover Day, the day where thousands of lambs would be slain as an image of the coming Savior who would take away the sins of the world permanently. Now, the Lamb of God had come, and He would be offered on this afternoon.
The arrest must proceed. The plan of God could not be stopped. From the birth of Jesus, to the betrayal by Judas, everything had been Sovereignly plotted before the foundation of the world. Now, Jesus would proceed to the court of the High Priest to be placed on trial and to be sacrificed by the High Priest for the sins of the people. As they bound Jesus and began to mistreat Him, we must not lose sight of His power and ability to stop the process at any step with the word of His power. The fact that He didn’t clearly indicates that this was His desire. This was His plan. He had come to be offered as a sin offering for God’s people. Now, at the hands of the priests He would be bound and led to the slaughter.
Food For Thought: Why was Peter’s attempt to protect Jesus with a sword completely absurd?