The four or five hours that preceded the betrayal and arrest of Jesus of Nazareth

Updated: Jan 28

I intended this to be setting the background for John’s chapter 17, which wrote about Jesus praying before being arrested.  Because it combines much of four chapters from all four Gospels, this is too long to go into that detail here.  It is a companion piece to a separate interpretation of John 17:6-19 – the Seventh Sunday of Easter lesson, Year B 2018 – where Jesus prayed for his disciples.

By doing a detailed, three-dimensional (so to speak) projection of the time following Jesus and the disciples leaving the upstairs room (estimated between 11 PM and Midnight), it shows that John’s chapter 17 could only have been an event he witnessed on the Mount of Olives, prior to Jesus leading his disciples to Gethsemane.  I explain why I believe there are problems with the way people have understood this sequence of events, and I use the Scriptural evidence to back up what I say.

In this exercise, which I have done before – detailing how the four Gospels mesh so they project a solid timeline between the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and through the Passover Seder meal (the “Last Supper”) – I had not gone down this extended path beyond the Seder meal.  I found it enlightening what I found doing this combing through the four differing texts.  Please feel free to question anything I present here, as I welcome discussion on all things I write.

Before the words of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples should be discussed, it is worthwhile to examine the different perspective that John brings, as opposed to the other three Gospels. It demands one understand the setting, which John does not mention in chapter 17. That setting is late into the evening following a Passover Seder (the first of two that Jews recognize every year), which began after the sun had set on Friday evening, making this event of Jesus praying for his disciples occur after around eleven o’clock and midnight on the Sabbath. The cup of wine that Jesus took, gave thanks for, and then gave to the disciples for them to drink from, that was the third of four ceremonial cups of wine that are part of the Seder meal. The after dinner ritual is to drink wine until drunk … so drunk that one passes out. It is a test to stay awake as long as possible after so much wine.  By the time Jesus led his disciple out of the upstairs room, onto the Mount of Olives, the disciples were tired from a long day AND they were drunk from wine.

Look at this map of ancient Jerusalem:

There is no question about where the Mount of Olives is located (red circle in upper right); but this map shows the hill just outside the gate for the Essene Quarter also as a Mount of Olives (red circle in lower center). That is not my addition to this map.  It may be that olive trees also grew there, such that it was common to refer to that spot (close to Mount Zion) as the hill of Olives, for that reason. Its proximity to the upstairs room makes it much more accessible to drunken disciples, with the consensus clearly stated that Jesus took the disciples to the Mount of Olives, prior to leading them to Gethsemane. The blue line shows a path that matches what all four Gospels tell.

Here is another view of the path, again using a blue line to mark it, based on a map that better shows the topography of Jerusalem.  Pay special attention to the paths or roads that lead from the city to the top of the official Mount of Olives.

It is important to understand that the timing of the Sabbath limits how far a compliant Jew can travel. From the upstairs room, a path to the standard Mount of Olives (red circle in upper right) would probably exceed .598 miles (in a straight line) outside the city limits, assuming the gate of exit from the city would start that measurement. Note how the terrain from the Essene Quarter gate, once across the Kidron Valley is steep, with no paths leading up it, other than those from Gethsemane.  One could not go from the upper room to the Mount of Olives that is east of Jerusalem, without first going to Gethsemane.

Now days, according to travelers who have posed the question how to walk up the Mount of Olives (or take a taxi), visitors have responded that the Muslim mosque (the Dome of the Rock) is on the Temple Mount, such that experience says the path to the Mount of Olives requires one leave through the Dung Gate (orange box), with restrictions on who has access to that area of holy ground and when. That information (reference) makes the path I have marked (blue line) justified, as the path was not to the high Mount of Olives, but Gethsemane, which is just across the Kidron Valley.

The path from the Dung Gate to the Mount of Olives is listed by a Google Maps search, showing it goes through Gethsemane to get there. The distance is listed as 2 kilometers, which would take nine minutes. Two kilometers is 1.24+ miles, with more distance needed to be added to reach back to the upper room. Most of that would technically be outside the city, but not in a straight line away from the city walls. Still, that would seem to make the Mount of Olives a forbidden distance to travel on a Sabbath, not only for an obedient Jew, but for one leading a band of drunken men around midnight.

Here is another map that is a closer view, where the red line indicates the same general path:

The Scriptural logistics of this path are as such:

Luke’s Gospel states, “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.” (Luke 21:37-38) Luke is the voice of Mother Mary, and that truth in the last two verses spoke of Jesus preaching prior to the Passover.  Arriving in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, he then preached to the pilgrim Israelites at the Temple from Monday to Thursday (as four days the Lamb was inspected and found without blemish).  That was time prior to Jesus leading his disciples away from the upstairs room, following the Seder meal.

In that regard, when the meal and the Seder ritual were complete, Luke wrote, “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.” By adding, “as usual” (“kata to ethos” – “according to the habit, by way of the custom”), it was a “day-to-day system” that helped center Jesus, prior to his preaching to the Jews on the Temple steps.  Jesus stayed in Jerusalem, at the hill of Olives, so he could be on the Temple steps bright and early each morning (morning prayers).

In both of these chapters from Luke’s Gospel, the reference is to “oros tōn (or to) Elaiōn.”  That can translate to either “hill of Olivet” or “mount the [one] of Olives.” In chapter 21, the wording says “kaloumenon,” which means “called” or “named,” with that element omitted from the mention in chapter 22. Chapter 21 also says that Jesus “lodged” or “spent the night” (from “ēulizeto”) there, which means he desired to be close enough to Jerusalem to preach to the crowd that was gathering prior to the Passover. Jesus wanted to be within easy walking distance to the Temple, where the pilgrims were gathering in larger numbers each day. For Jesus to bivouac says it was mild and dry enough to sleep outside, with pools and streams for washing and bathing nearby, as well as the Essenes section of Jerusalem being close. However, it would make more sense to see Jesus staying with an Essene friend, the one whose home Jesus and disciples would be allowed to use for the eight-day Passover Festival coming up.

Jesus would send Peter and John [of Zebedee] to make ready for the Passover. They both asked Jesus (paraphrasing), “Where do we go to do this?” Jesus replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters.” (Luke 22:10) That instruction indicates an entry into Jerusalem at the Essenes Gate, from the hill that was also named for its cluster of olive trees.

After all, the Mount of Olives is said to be one of three peaks in a range that separates Jerusalem from the land between it and the Jordan River – a wilderness-like area. Jerusalem itself sits on four hills, the greatest two being Mount Zion and Mount Moriah. Therefore, there were no shortages of hills on which olive trees could grow. The prophet Zachariah wrote of the coming Lord, “In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west, making a very large valley; half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south.” (Zechariah 14:4) It would seem another prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus, if he spent time on both mounts that had been named for the presence of olive trees.

Matthew’s Gospel states, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:30) Likewise, Mark’s Gospel states, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Mark 14:26) In John’s Gospel, he wrote of lessons given by Jesus, following the Seder rituals, with chapter 14 ending with Jesus saying, “Come now, let us leave.” (John 14:31d)  One would assume that the other Gospel writers not duplicating these lesson given by Jesus (continued after they left in John’s chapters 15 and 16, as well as the prayers of Jesus in chapter 17), it was because they were still busy drinking wine and not able to remember what was said.  Still, all of that took place on the Mount of Olives, as stated by the other three writers.

It is also important to grasp that Matthew was himself a disciple of Jesus and Mark was the one who wrote the story witnessed by Peter. Both of the disciples then confirmed the same timing of events, such that the singing of a song occurred prior to leaving the upstairs room. When one realizes that the Seder ritual calls for a final prayer, to be followed by several verses of a concluding song, then both official disciples confirmed they stayed to the end of the ritual meal. When one then knows that the prayer follows the fourth cup of wine being blessed and consumed, one can see how the singing of a long song means it is then sung while more wine is freely poured.

After Peter (Mark) and Matthew state they left with Jesus following the singing of a hymn, they both say it was on the Mount of Olives that Jesus told Peter he would deny him three time, before the rooster crows. John remembered Jesus telling Peter, “Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” before the group left the upper room, after Judas had left. (John 13:38)  This would mean Jesus repeated that prophecy after they left, as he wanted Peter to remember what he had prophesied when he sobered up and realized what he had done.

When Matthew wrote, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times,” (Matthew 26:34) and when Mark wrote, “Truly I tell you, today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times,” (Mark 14:30) each knew the third night watch was called the Cock-Crowing Watch. It was called that because it ended at 3:00 AM (beginning at Midnight), when roosters would crow in anticipation of dawn nearing. Thus, when Jesus was saying that on the Mount of Olives, it was just before or shortly after midnight, when there was still time to pray (John chapter 17) and then walk to Gethsemane. There, Jesus knew Judas would bring men to arrest Jesus, knowing Jesus would go there.

In Luke’s Gospel, Mother Mary was aware (by personally going outside the Essenes Gate with Jesus and his disciples, or by John telling her of his witness, having gone with Jesus and his disciples) of Jesus telling Peter he would deny him three times. In that regard, Luke wrote, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:34)

Following these statements that follow all saying Jesus went with his disciples to the Mount of Olives, Matthew and Mark both wrote (similarly), “They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” (Mark 14:32) In this regard, when Luke wrote, “On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation,” (Luke 22:40) Jesus said that after leaving the Mount of Olives and reaching the place that was Gethsemane. This rapid transfer of scene can be seen in Matthew, Mark, and Luke then writing the reason Jesus told the disciples to pray that they should not to be tempted to sin (or fall asleep), while he left them to pray.

This element of prayer stated by Luke becomes mistaken for being on the Mount of Olives, largely because Luke immediately followed the announcement that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives with a verse that leads by stating, “On reaching the place.” That sequence merely points out a place was reached that was beyond the Mount of Olives. Jesus obviously prayed both places; but the place he was headed was Gethsemane, because his hour had come and Jesus knew Judas would look for him there.  This is where John’s Gospel adds clarification, when he began his 18th chapter by saying, “When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.” (John 18:01)

John’s entire chapter 17 recites Jesus prayers, which are divided into three groups.  He prayed first for his glorification; then he prayed for his disciples; and finally, Jesus prayed for all believers. None of those prayers were expressed with worry, as are the prayers overheard by the disciples Peter, Matthew, and the testimony given to Mother Mary. It also must be noted that crossing the Kidron Valley to reach the garden (Gethsemane) means the Mount of Olives was not the one believed to overlook Jerusalem from the east.

Realizing that Luke has meant “reaching the place” that was Gethsemane, he then wrote, “[Jesus] withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:41-42) Both Matthew and Mark stated (similarly), “[Jesus] took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.” (Matthew 26:37) This statement of worry in Jesus must be seen as a clue that the change from the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane was known by Jesus as time to worry.  He and his disciples had just gone from a place of safety to a place of danger. Jesus had left the largest contingent of his followers as the first buffer of defense that would be meet Judas.  They knew Judas, but he would be bringing arresting officers along the road leading from the Shushan Gate, which was the eastern Gate that led from the Temple to the road Gethsemane was on.

According to Jewish tradition, the Shekhinah (שכינה) (Divine Presence) used to appear through the eastern Gate, and will appear again when the Anointed One (Messiah) comes. Some believe this was the Gate that Jesus entered Jerusalem through on Palm Sunday, although others believe the short road was too steep crossing the Kidron Valley, plus cheering crowds would not have had access to that entrance to the Temple’s lower level. Regardless, this Gate being where Jesus was taken during his arrest would have fulfilled prophecy in multiple ways. First, Jesus would have been the Lamb inspected and found without blemish, turned over to the Temple priests for slaughter. Second, this Gate was prophesied by Ezekiel, when he wrote:

“Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. Then said the Lord unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the Lord, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut. It is for the prince; the prince, he shall sit in it to eat bread before the Lord; he shall enter by the way of the porch of that gate, and shall go out by the way of the same.” (Ezekiel 44:1–3)

This Gate has become permanently walled since medieval times. It is believed to be what is referred to as the Golden Gate of Jerusalem (a.k.a. Gate of Mercy). The Muslims are believed to have sealed in in 800 AD and archeologists have not found the evidence that points directly to where the eastern Gate (Shushan) was exactly. In that walling and questioning, there has been no need for the Gate to be found, because the Messiah entered and the prophecy was complete.  Jesus being taken prisoner through that Gate fulfilled Ezekiel’s prophecy.

Once we see Jesus separating from his disciples (and John the Beloved) at Gethsemane, we read how both Matthew and Mark then wrote (again, similarly), “Then he said to them [Peter, James, and John of Zebedee], “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38, Mark 14:34)  John the Beloved is the only Gospel writer who did not witness such a state of sorrow in Jesus as he prayed.  However, for Matthew and Mark to identify John of Zebedee as a disciple allowed closest to Jesus as he prayed at Gethsemane, if the Gospel of John were written by that John, then the accounts of Matthew and Mark would be similar to those found in John 17.  That proves the Gospel writer John was not John the son of Zebedee.

Luke wrote then, “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them [Peter, James, and John], knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:41-44) Mark wrote, “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:35-36) Likewise, Matthew wrote, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39) John’s Gospel made no mention of a cup.  All three of the other Gospels tell of Jesus asking God to take away the “cup” that Jesus held, where the Greek word “potērion” can be read figuratively as meaning “the portion which God allots,” as well as the literal meaning as “cup.” (Strong’s Concordance) Two Gospel writers (all three by agreement of the prayer being associated with grief) place this prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, by stating the same (or similar) words of prayer.

This plea made by Jesus is nothing like the prayers Jesus made that are recorded in chapter 17 of John’s Gospel. Those prayers (taking up a whole chapter) preceded Jesus “crossing the Kidron Valley” and going to “a garden,” which was Gethsemane (as stated in John 18:1). By John not knowing the name Gethsemane, while the two adult disciples did know that identification, acts as a clue that John was not an adult at that time.  This means those prayers recited by John took place at the Mount of Olives, even though John did not name the place where Jesus prayed, because the Mount of Olives was where the consensus report says Jesus first took his disciples. That was a safe place to pray, where Jesus’ soul was not yet “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” when he was anguished to the point of praying “more earnestly,” such that “sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)  The prayers of Jesus in John’s Gospel were not made in this state of worry. Again, not once in John’s chapter 17 did he recall Jesus mentioning a cup.

The cup that Jesus asked God to take from him (if God was willing) was metaphor for emotion. It is not coincidence that the Seder meal ritual includes four ceremonial cups of wine. Each cup has symbolic meaning, which has been summed up in an article by Mike Ratliff as representing the following:

1. The Cup of Sanctification – based on God’s statement, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” 2. The Cup of Judgment or Deliverance– based on God’s statement, “I will deliver you from slavery to them” 3. The Cup of Redemption – based on God’s statement, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm” 4. The Cup of Praise or Restoration – based on God’s statement, “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God”

The third cup – The Cup of Redemption – was the cup of wine that Jesus had given thanks for and passed around to the disciples to drink from. Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:24-25) This is today the chalice from which some denominations of Christianity sip from each Sunday (or whenever they have a planned service). The wine makes on feel giddy, as the alcohol in it quickly enters one’s bloodstream, affecting the brain. On a spiritual level, drinking from the cup of Jesus’ blood is then symbolic of the emotional elation that comes from having been born again as Jesus Christ. True Redemption comes from a deep-felt emotional bond with God (heart-centered God’s love) and a new presence of the Christ Mind ruling the brain.

Jesus of Nazareth had that love and Christ status, but it was his human emotions that were then causing the rock-solid stability of Jesus – to be emotionally centered  – that were making him feel the terror of what was about to unfold. Jesus wanted God to take away the human emotions of fear, doubt, and uncertainty (if God was willing), so Jesus could face a coming week of torture and ridicule without crumbling as any normal human being would.

Luke continued by writing, “When [Jesus] rose from prayer and went back to the disciples [Peter, James, and John of Zebedee], he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow, asking, “Why are you sleeping?” (Luke 22:46a) This says that Jesus was both checking on the safety surrounding him as he prayed, as well as checking to see if Judas was yet approaching. The late hour and the wine consumed by the disciples was why they could not stay awake. Certainly, this included those who were closest to the olive press site (the meaning of “Gethsemane,” which was in a cellar-like area), where John the Beloved had been told to wait with the other male adult disciples. Luke wrote that Jesus again told his three closest disciples [Peter, James, and John of Zebedee], “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:46b)

Mark wrote (from the perspective of Peter), “Then [Jesus] returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Similarly, Matthew wrote, “Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:40-41) When Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, it not only referred to why he [Jesus] was loudly praying to the Father to keep his weak human flesh strong, but he was also telling his sleepy, drunken disciples [Peter as their leader] to guard that their bodies do not run in fear, when they see Roman guards coming.

Both Matthew and Mark write (similarly), “He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matthew 22:42, Mark 14:39) Luke did not mention multiple checks of the disciples by Jesus. He also did not mention, as do Matthew and Mark (who wrote similarly), “When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him” (Mark 14:40) That says the hour was very late (possibly around 1:00 AM by then), and the disciples could not keep themselves from sleeping.  If the source of Mother Mary’s perspective was John the Beloved, the omission from Luke’s Gospel could indicate John (the youth) was also asleep – not from drunkenness but the lateness of the hour.

Then, both Matthew and Mark wrote (again, presenting the same information slightly differently), “Returning the third time, [Jesus] said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Mark 14:41-42) The shock of this announcement then forced Peter, James and John (who had prior told Jesus as they prepared to leave the upper room that two of them carried “swords” [daggers in sheaths] to protect Jesus) they stood up, groggily, but awake and defensive.

With everyone aroused, we read in Luke, “While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him.” (Luke 22:47) Similarly, Matthew wrote, “While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” (Matthew 26:47-48) Mark, writing for Peter, wrote, “Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” (Mark 14:43-44) All of them wrote next that Judas went to Jesus to kiss him, which was the signal to the officers who to arrest. John, on the other hand, witnessed an encounter that seems to have been slightly earlier, when Jesus actually went out to greet the crowd that was led by Judas.

John wrote:

“Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.  So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.

Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”’ (John 18:2-9)

The words spoken by Jesus that were fulfilled come from John 6:39 – “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” Jesus said that to the crowd that had followed him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, when he was trying to find solitude after news of John the Baptist’s death. Thus, what Jesus said to the guards and officers of the Temple meant more than the disciples who were at Gethsemane with him that early morning.  It did not include those who would turn away from Jesus, as had Judas; and it did not include those who would never come to Jesus (Jews or Romans).

It would have then been after John’s account as when the others joined with Jesus and the crowd, witnessing what three of the Gospel writers wrote: “Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.” (Matthew 26:49-50, Mark 14:45-46) Luke added, “But Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” (Luke 22:48-49) At that point the soldiers seized Jesus, which was an act of aggression that was surprising to Jesus’ disciples.

Jesus was not attempting to resist arrest, but Luke (from Mother Mary) – remembering the followers making that suggestion, “Should we strike with our swords?” – saw how a comment like that would have made guards defensive and trained to act swiftly. Grabbing Jesus would have been more because he was closest to them, thus a most immediate danger (if he too had a dagger). However, all the Gospel writers wrote how, “With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.” (Matthew 26:54, Mark 14:47, Luke 22:50) John named the disciple who acted in anger with his dagger AND named the one struck by the sword, writing “[Simon-Peter] had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)” (John 18:10)  Matthew and John wrote how Jesus told the ones with daggers to “Put your sword back in its place.” (Matthew 26:52, John similarly 18:11)

Matthew reported Jesus saying, “For all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54) Luke reported that Jesus said, “No more of this” and “touched the man’s ear and healed him.” (Luke 22:51) Luke , Matthew and Mark then all have Jesus adding these words, following the servant’s ear being healed, “Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:52-53, similarly Mark 14:48-49) After that, Jesus is taken away.

Mark and Matthew both wrote, following Jesus’ arrest, “Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56, and similarly in Mark 14:50) This has to be seen as a statement of the adult males who were Jesus’ disciples, as it is doubtful that Jesus took his followers to a tourist attraction that had pilgrims hanging out after midnight.  The intent was the adult disciples fled when Jesus was arrested, fearing they too might be taken.  Still, Mark did says that Jesus did not go away alone.

Mark wrote, “A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.” (Mark 14:51-42) This identification, made by Peter’s Gospel writer, has to be grasped as “a young man” that was known by Peter AND a follower of Jesus that was at Gethsemane because he followed Jesus there. Because he was “a young man” and not an adult, it would have been improper to name this boy in the first century A.D., as it was typical to simply call women and children by their general age and sex.  The one witnessed by Peter [through Mark] was, however, the same boy who had happened to be with Jesus and his disciples when it was lunchtime and a multitude of five thousand adult males were waiting for Jesus to speak.  When Jesus wanted to offer the crowd food to eat, a boy was identified as carrying a basket of five loaves of bread and two fish. That “young man” was John the Beloved, just as was the one who ran after Jesus when he was being taken away.  Thus, John’s Gospel has views that were impossible of John of Zebedee, who was regularly identified by name.

Luke wrote, “Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.” (Luke 22:54)  Matthew confirmed that, writing, “But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.” (Matthew 26:58) That would then begin the last hour of the Cock-Crowing night watch (around 2:00 AM), when Peter placed himself amid strangers, those who would identify him as a follower of the one just arrested. Over the next hour Peter would deny knowing Jesus, and deny being one of his disciples three times. After the third denial, Matthew wrote, “Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:74-75) Mark added it was the second crow of the rooster. (Mark 14:72, although some say early editions of Mark’s Gospel did not include a reference to “a second crow.”) Luke said that Jesus heard the crowing and “turned and looked straight at Peter,” prompting Peter to recall Jesus’ prophecy. The wine had worn off, just as it became the Morning Night Watch, beginning at 3:00 AM and going until 6:00 AM.

This meshing of the Gospel texts shows a realistic view of the last four hours (possibly five) that Jesus was a free man of ministry.  With the Seder meal rituals completed after 10:00 PM (maybe closer to 11), there was time to walk to the nearby hill of Olives, where the disciples rested and talked, while Jesus went off to pray, with young John close by.  After those prayers, Jesus led his tired and drunken disciples along the walls of Jerusalem, downhill to the Kidron Valley, and then along a path to a bridge that crossed a stream, which led to the olive press that was at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  There the followers divided into two groups, protecting Jesus as he prayed for strength.  The arrived probably around midnight, with the arrest taking place close to 1:00 AM.  Peter would follow behind Jesus to a place where night watchers had a fire going, denying he knew Jesus three times before 3:00 AM.  That means the Gospels paint a vivid picture of the time between 10:00 PM and 1:00 AM on the last Sabbath (a Passover Sabbath) that Jesus’s ministry was alive and well on earth in that Son of Man.

I hope this has been interesting.  I welcome sincere comments.

#Mark14 #John18 #Matthew26 #Luke22 #John17