Midweek 4 LSB #’s 849, 611, 919
Text – Luke 22:52-53
Then Jesus said to the chief priests & officers of the temple & elders, who had come out against Him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords & clubs? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, & the power of darkness.”
The Betrayal: A Place of Eternal Love
Tonight we consider the arrest of our Lord in the garden – The betrayal. That’s what we’ve called it & that word sums up the event. “On the night when He was betrayed...” we say every time we celebrate Communion, & everyone knows what we mean. But when you read this account more closely, you realize Jesus is not the only one being betrayed.
In the garden of Gethsemane, many people are betrayed. Consider the disciples. A disciple followed his master. That is basic to discipleship. “Come, follow Me,” Jesus said &, in a moment, with the setting down of a net & a walk up from the shore, fishermen became disciples. Yet on this night in the garden, these disciples no longer follow but lead.
Luke writes: “When those who were around Him saw what would follow, they said, ‘Lord, shall we strike with the sword?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest & cut off his right ear.” (22:49–50) So the followers take action, asking a question but not waiting for an answer, praying to God but doing what they want.
A servant is struck. An ear is lost & followers become transgressors of God’s gracious will. Disciples? Their actions betray them. They are not disciples but something less than that.
Consider Judas. Lest we forget, Luke reminds us that he is one of the Twelve, but his lips are filled with poison, & his kiss is deadly. He approaches Jesus as a disciple; to kiss his master, yet the crowd behind betrays the man. And so we have another betrayal in this text. “One of the Twelve”? Judas is something less than that name.
Then, consider the chief priests & the elders. Luke informs us that the officers of the temple guard accompany them. They’ve complained about the oppression of their nation, yet now they are using force to oppress one of their own.
Sitting in the temple, they listened to His teaching & fought with the Scriptures. Here in the night, they’re fighting with swords & clubs & the temple guard. These prisoners to foreign rule now try to rule in ways foreign to God. So we have a 3rd betrayal. Leaders of God’s people? Their weapons betray them. They are something far less than that name.
Luke helps us to see that the story of our Lord’s betrayal has something to say about us. Sometimes, you can’t trust what you see. Jesus is right when He says, “This is your hour – when darkness reigns.” (cf. v. 53) The hour of darkness is not a full-frontal attack in the middle of daylight where armies are armies & weapons destroy.
No. The hour of darkness is that time when evil remains hidden. It hides under a kiss, under discipleship, under the office of leadership. People may kiss & pray & preach about peace, but underneath it all lies a heart ready for war. Perhaps you have been in this darkness.
It usually catches you by surprise. You’re saving for retirement. With corporate downsizing & the turn in the market, every penny has become precious. Unfortunately, you start to neglect the poverty of others. You cut what is called your charitable giving. It’s your money after all; you worked for it.
Suddenly, your tomorrow has become more important than another person’s today, & God’s call for justice is simply a word on a page. You speak about justice & the love of God for the poor, but your actions betray you. The power of darkness doesn’t look dark at first because it is deceiving.
One day, we’re filled with righteous zeal for God’s kingdom, pointing out to the world
how it’s gone astray from God’s ways. Later, we discover what’s been hidden all the time under our religious zeal & proclamation of holy living: a cold hearted indifference to our neighbors, not a shred of a desire for their salvation at all. Luke’s account alerts us to this hour of darkness, & we confess this evening how easily it creeps up on us as well.
Thankfully, that’s not the only story Luke has to tell. In this account, Jesus does more than reveal the hour of darkness. He also reveals the eternal love of our Lord. Our Savior enters the hour of darkness & turns it into a place of His eternal love. In the midst of all of the deception, Luke points to one thing that remains true: what Jesus is seeking to do for them.
Jesus never betrays His Father’s eternal mission. When His disciples fight, He brings peace. When a slave is injured, He heals. When His enemies come, He willingly submits to the suffering that brings our salvation. In each case, Jesus meets the hour of darkness not by withdrawing but by bringing into this world the eternal kingdom of God.
Take, for example, the healing of the high priest’s servant. Luke records that one of the disciples drew his sword & cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. The confrontation in the garden is beginning to turn deadly. In the face of this escalating violence, Jesus intervenes to stop the hurting of a slave.
Although He will not act in His own defense, Jesus works for the defense of others. Weak enough to be arrested, He is strong enough to heal. And in this moment, He reveals that no matter what is done to Him, He will always remain our Maker, coming into His world to heal His fallen creation.
He is who He is, the Son of God, our Savior, & though the powers of darkness rise against Him, He remains strong & obedient to eternal love, for He has come to set us free. Now, we begin to see that there really is more here than meets the eye. Jesus is revealing to us the power of God’s eternal love. For ages, people have trusted that such a love exists. They have waited for God to send them a Messiah, one who would set His people free. For three years in Galilee, the people had seen a Savior, had brought their sick to a healer, & had looked for the reign of this Prince of Peace.
Now, even in the midst of the power of darkness, we find this Lord being what His name proclaims Him to be. In the face of such oppression, He is & remains the Anointed One of God. When thrown in a situation where He should protect Himself, He uses His hands to heal another. When given good reason to fight His enemies, He lays down His life for their salvation.
When faced with disciples who were fighting for His freedom, He asserts His authority as their leader, a Prince of Peace. The names of Jesus remain true in all situations. He is Savior, Healer, Prince of Peace there in the garden & here, tonight, in our midst.
Have you experienced the power of darkness? Have you found how easily it can slip among us as well? Fear not, for today our Lord comes as our Savior. He offers forgiveness through His Word this night. In the midst of our illness, He comes as our healer. In the midst of our struggles, He bids us His peace.
Each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we begin by saying “on the night when He was betrayed.” With that statement, we are remembering the hour of darkness in the garden, but we are also remembering every hour of darkness that comes after that. Times when we have been less than our name as Christians.
Yet, no matter how often this hour comes among us, God’s love remains eternal. He comes to forgive us by His body & blood. Each time we begin with the words, “On the night when He was betrayed,” Jesus continues by saying, “Take, eat; take, drink; this is for you.”
Whether that hour of darkness occurs in the garden, or your home, in your marriage or in
your church, God’s love remains with you. In eternal love, He continues to come & forgive us our sin. Amen.
Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me, died that I might live on high, lives that I might never die. As the branch is to the vine, I am His, & He is mine. O my Savior, help afford by Your Spirit & Your Word! When my wayward heart would stray, keep me in the narrow way; grace in time of need supply while I live & when I die. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet