47 While he yet spake, behold, a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them; and he drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? 49 And when they that were about him saw what would follow, they said, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? 50 And a certain one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and struck off his right ear.51 But Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye them
thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.52 And Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and elders, that were come against him, Are ye come out, as against a robber, with swords and staves? 53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched not forth your hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
The manner in which Judas concluded his foul crime was in perfect keeping with its essential baseness. He led a multitude armed with swords and clubs into the Garden where his Master was wont to retire for prayer, and there betrayed him with a kiss, a sign which had been agreed upon in order that, in the deep shadows, one of the disciples might not be mistaken for the Master and arrested in his place. A kiss was a usual sign of friendship, but the manner of Judas and the rebuke of Jesus indicate that it was given with a false semblance of deep affection and was thus the more repulsive to the Lord. Acts of disloyalty to Christ are even more distressing to him in surroundings which are sacred and when committed by those who have made loud protestations of love.
The fearless composure of the Master is now contrasted with the conduct of his followers. They asked whether they should defend him with the sword, and before he could reply, Peter rashly smote the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. To this act Jesus made reply, |Suffer ye them thus far;| the exact meaning is not certain, but probably he was addressing his disciples to prevent further violence. He then touched the ear of the servant and healed him. Only Luke, |the beloved physician,| mentions this |unique miracle of surgery.| The incident has its message for disciples in all ages. Violence and cruelty in the defense of the cause of Christ misrepresent him to the world. The act of Peter gave countenance to charges which would be preferred against Jesus, and further resistance would have compromised the position of his Lord. However well intended, such rash defenses weaken the cause they are designed to promote.
Jesus turned to rebuke his enemies and resented the fact that they had come against him as against a robber with swords and clubs. He reminded them that daily he had taught in public. Their coming with violence, in secrecy; and under the cover of night, was a proof that the arrest was false and that it could not be justified. There had been abundant opportunities during many days to seize him in public when he was unprotected. Their present course bore its own condemnation; but he added mournfully, |This is your hour, and the power of darkness.| In the mystery of his providence God was allowing this iniquity. He was giving this temporary authority to the forces of evil. It was to be a brief hour, but those who willingly put it to such a use would incur eternal condemnation. Nothing is more solemn than the possibility of using for evil ends the liberty allotted us of God.