Jesus Surrenders Himself
After healing Malchus' ear, Jesus then spoke to Peter - "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword shall perish by the sword" (Matt. 26:52). There is no doubt that Peter was ready to fight to the end for His Lord. Yet, that was not what Jesus' kingdom was about (cf. John 18:36). There is no authority for followers of Christ to defend the truth or advance the kingdom with physical force. Jesus' statement here about those who "take the sword" is true in general, but not in an absolute sense. There have been men who lived by the sword and died a natural death.

"Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?" (John 18:11). Jesus had determined that He would do the Father's will regardless of the consequences to Himself. He would "drink the cup" that had been prepared for Him (cf. Matt. 26:42).

Jesus went on to say - "Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. 26:53). Clearly, Jesus is in control of this situation. The mob did not take Him; He surrendered Himself. A legion was a division of the Roman army consisting of 6000 soldiers. Had Jesus asked the Father for twelve legions, there would have been one legion for He and each of the eleven apostles. Jesus could have asked for even more than this. Of course, one might rightly wonder, wouldn't just one angel have been sufficient for protection? Jesus' point is that He could have easily delivered Himself, but He chose not to. Also, He wants the apostles to understand that He doesn't need the help of any man bearing a sword (e.g., II Kings 6:17). "How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" (Matt. 26:54). The Scriptures wouldn't be fulfilled if Jesus called upon deliverance from angels. He would willingly submit to being arrested.

"In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, 'Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me" (Matt. 26:55). If they really believed that He was a wicked and dangerous man, why did they not arrest Him in the daylight while He was in the temple? The fact that they felt compelled to arrest Him at night is a testimony to His innocence. Luke indicates here that the chief priest, captains of the temple, and the elders were present for the arrest (cf. Luke 22:52).

"But this is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53). Here the Lord heaps humiliation and shame upon their cowardly actions. They didn't attempt to take Him while He was teaching publicly because of their fear of the people. Their hatred for the "light of the world" has caused their true colors to show through (cf. John 3:19). They were servants of the devil, and this was his finest hour (or so he thought).

"But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled" (Matt. 26:56; cf. Isa. 53; Psa. 22). "Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled" - The apostles all turned and ran, even though they had claimed loyalty unto death a few hours earlier (cf. Matt. 26:35). Why did they run? It had become obvious that Jesus was not going to resist arrest or deliver Himself. These disciples, though they loved Jesus dearly, were not yet willing to follow Him to death. The pressure of trials is what really shows us our true character. It exposes our strengths as well as our weaknesses.

If the writers of the gospel accounts had been imposters (specifically Matthew and John), they would have never forged such a report as this! They would not have represented themselves as fleeing. It is unknown what most of the apostles did for the next 24 hours, but two of them (Peter and John) recovered enough courage to return and witness the events that followed (cf. John 18:15).

Mark 14:51,52 supplies some additional information - "Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked." The way the young man is here designated suggests that he was not an apostle (the linen cloth described would have been very costly, something only the rich would possess). His identity is unknown and how he happened to be present is likewise a mystery. There are many conjectures that have been proposed, but the most plausible is that this young man was Mark himself (the author of an account of the gospel). There is no indication that the guards laid hold of any of the apostles, so it seems likely that the linen cloth wrapped around his body attracted their attention. Perhaps they seized hold of it for mischief. Some further speculate that since Mark's mother resided in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 12:12,25), Jesus and His apostles might have eaten the Passover in the upper room of her house. Hence, when He and the eleven left for Gethsemane, Mark got out of bed, slipped a linen cloth around him, and followed them.