The Deceived Betrayer
"Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, 'Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely" (Mark 14:44). Amazingly, Judas evidently thought He could deceive Jesus, even to the extent of kissing Him (which was the common greeting between men in that day) in order to identify Him.

The fact that Judas instructs the mob to lead Jesus away "safely" makes me wonder if Judas wasn't the one who was truly deceived. Did he foolishly believe that Jesus' life would be spared once He was in the custody of these angry and jealous religious leaders? If not, why did He care that Jesus be escorted from the garden "safely"?

As Judas drew near to Jesus to kiss Him, Jesus spoke - "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" (Luke 22:48). Jesus made Judas feel his worthlessness as a betrayer. Before Judas can identify Jesus in any manner, the Lord has twice declared Himself to be the One whom they sought. When Judas approached to carry out his contract, Jesus' question exposed him as a betrayer before everyone, and not as the disciple he wished to appear as.

"Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, 'Greetings, Rabbi!' and kissed Him" (Matt. 26:49). Judas shamelessly persists in completing the sign. "But Jesus said to him, 'Friend, why have you come?'" (Matt. 26:50; cf. Psa. 41:9; Zech. 11:12). Jesus didn't ask this question to gather information. Most likely He asked it to force Judas to remember their relationship of days now forever gone and also to get him to consider his real motivation that caused him to commit this terrible deed.

"When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, 'Lord, shall we strike with the sword?'" (Luke 22:49). Although the question was asked, Peter doesn't bother to wait for an answer. He sees them arresting Jesus, and he decides to take action.

"Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus" (John 18:10). This action is certainly in keeping with Peter's impulsive nature. It is reasonable to suggest that Peter was attempting to decapitate Malchus, who probably dodged the stroke to the left and down, and thus only lost an ear. John is the only one to indicate that Peter was the one who cut off Malchus' ear. This is a good example of the benefit of studying the four accounts together to glean all of the details that are recorded via inspiration.

John knew the household of the high priest (cf. 18:16). He also knew Malchus by name, as well as his family (cf. 18:26). It may be reasoned that Peter's rash act here was partly the cause of his second denial of Christ in the hours to come (cf. 18:26).

"But Jesus answered and said, 'Permit even this.' And He touched his ear and healed him" (Luke 22:51). Even under the most severe circumstances, Jesus does good for His enemies (and on this occasion, He uses miraculous power to do so). Had Jesus not intervened here, there is no telling what might have happened to the apostles. They might have all been arrested or killed on the spot. Any effort of physical retaliation that eleven men with two swords might have been able to put forth wouldn't have been enough to prevent them from being slaughtered in a moment by this armed multitude.

Who was Jesus addressing when He said - "Permit even this"? It is difficult to know with certainty. If He was speaking to those who had laid hands on Him, it would be a request to loose Him sufficiently to enable Him to touch Malchus' ear. If He was speaking to Peter and the ten, then He would be exhorting them to peacefully allow Him to be arrested.

It is intriguing to consider this scene from Malchus' view. He lost an ear only to have it miraculously restored by the Man he is helping to arrest! Was Malchus among those who later shouted - "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" (cf. Luke 23:21)?

We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.