After saying these things Jesus crossed the Kidron ravine with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, for Jesus had gone there many times with his disciples.
The chief priests and Pharisees had given Judas a squad of soldiers and police to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons they arrived at the olive grove.
Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him. Stepping forward to meet them he asked, “Whom are you looking for?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. And as he said it, they all fell backwards to the ground!
Once more he asked them, “Whom are you searching for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
“I told you I am he,” Jesus said; “and since I am the one you are after, let these others go.” He did this to carry out the prophecy he had just made, “I have not lost a single one of those you gave me.”
Judas was given a contingent of police and soldiers in order to seize Jesus and bring him before the religious court for trial. The religious leaders had issued the warrant for Jesus’ arrest, and Judas was acting as Jesus’ official accuser.
Don’t Run Away
John does not record Judas’s kiss of greeting (Matthew 26:49; Mark 14:45; Luke 22:47-48), but Judas’s kiss marked a turning point for the disciples. With Jesus’ arrest, each one’s life would be radically different.
For the first time, Judas openly betrayed Jesus before the other disciples. For the first time, Jesus’ loyal disciples ran away from him (Matthew 26:56). The band of disciples would undergo severe testing before they were transformed from hesitant followers to dynamic leaders.
You may have made big mistakes in your life, committed sins you’re ashamed to remember. Yet nothing is beyond Jesus’ forgiveness. He can help you become the person he wants you to become, but you must allow him to forgive you and work in your life. He did it for these disciples—and they changed the world!