Tuesday in Holy Week
Luke 22: 47-53 – The betrayal and arrest of Jesus (Mt 26:47–56; Mk 14:43–52; Jn18:1–11)
47 While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” 49 When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” 50 Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!”
The moment of Jesus’ Passion has arrived, soon he will be taken from his place of solitude and brought before a crowd. Previously crowds had laid palms by his feet and shouted ‘Hosanna’, now they were gunning for his blood. This imagery reflects two kingdoms, the triumphant entry symbolising the celebration of the Kingdom of Heaven, the jeering crowds to come, the kingdom of the world. Here, in this space in the garden, Jesus waits in anguish for the present moment, for his betrayal, not only from his disciple and friend, but also the self-same crowd who had welcomed him days before.
Luke, in this passage on the betrayal and arrest of Jesus again brings into focus these two kingdoms. He does this by emphasising the different ways in which they deal with power. The kingdom of man is brought into this moment brandishing swords and clubs, symbols of violence and oppression by which mankind has always brandished power. We see also through the interactions between the disciples and the guards this notion of war and violence being painfully played out. We must not overlook the significance of this interaction as it speaks to the frailty of humanity in times of danger and vulnerability. A disciple, one who had walked with Jesus, learned his teachings. Yet in his moment of frailty, he adopted the position of a citizen of this world, rather than the kingdom of heaven. Often it is our actions in the moments of vulnerability that reveals who we really are.
Jesus, however, presents to us another way in which we can choose to live. Luke presents Jesus as the antithesis of the previous interaction. A man quietly resolved to the will of the Father brings himself forward in peace to hand himself over to his oppressors. Luke presents Jesus in this moment as the symbol of His Kingdom in Heaven. In his final act before his captivity Jesus presents the mission of this heavenly Kingdom through the healing of the soldier’s ear. Cyril of Alexandria reflects these contrasting views stating that the Lord chose “love rather than the sword and healing rather than violence.” With this Jesus presents to us the pattern of the kingdom and a model for his followers to follow.
Tom Owen, Ordinand