The betrayal and capture of Jesus retold in story form through the eyes of John, loosely based on Matthew 26 and Luke 22. To read the first part in this fictional series, read “An Unlikely Intent: The Unexpected Welcome.”
The room was in absolute chaos. We were staying at Simon’s house. It was the day before Passover, and a rather questionable woman had just entered the house. We had seen her before. Many times, in fact, as we walked the streets. I think Mary was her name. She walked through a group of men standing near the door and went straight to Jesus. She poured perfume all over His feet. As the smell of the perfume got stronger and stronger inside the small room, the frustration and comments got louder and louder.
“That’s so much money!” I heard one man say. “Why such carelessness?” another shouted. The shouts were bouncing off the walls as tempers rose. All I could do was watch. I didn’t understand why Jesus had let such a woman waste so much money on Him. Judas was particularly mad, though; he fumed on and on about the money, exciting everyone else to join in on his frustration.
Jesus hushed everyone and said, “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing for me. You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume, she did it to prepare me for burial.”
Half of us were upset about the insane amount of money the woman had just poured out. It was unbelievable to witness! I mean—an entire year’s wages poured out like water. Just crazy. The other half was confused and asking each other what He could possibly mean by “she has prepared me for burial.” I just sat there bewildered by it all and silent as a stone.
As everyone continued to fuss and shout, I noticed Judas get up and leave. I found it odd but didn’t say anything. He had been doing his own thing lately and had seemed more distant than usual.
The Passover meal was almost ready. We had followed Jesus’s instructions, found the house, and prepared the meal. He had been a bit quieter all day. Like He had been thinking about something. I don’t know if anyone else noticed it, but there seemed to be a somberness about Him, and I couldn’t help but be more contemplative as I prepared the meal, curious as to what was on His mind.
“Good evening, John,” Jesus said as He came over to see how the bitter herbs were coming.
“Hi, Jesus,” I paused because there was so much I wanted to say but didn’t know how. I could tell His heart was burdened, and I wanted to help. “Are you doing okay?” was all I could manage to get out.
“Yeah, John. I’m doing okay. Now let’s feast!” He said with a huge grin on His face. He patted me on the back as He walked off to talk to some of the other guys.
Within minutes, we were sitting around the table. We ate and talked. Feasting was such a wonderful experience with Jesus. The love that poured out of Him was tangible and there had been many feasts where we laughed and talked late into the evening enjoying the company of one another and the guests that came. Today began like that, like always, but then everything shifted when Jesus got quiet, which made everyone else simmer down as well.
Jesus looked around at us, taking His time to really look at each of us. “One of you will betray me.”
The uproar was cataclysmic. The love, adoration, and devoted commitment began ringing out around the table. “Not me!” Came across the table almost as soon as someone else said, “It’s not I, is it?”
“The one who has dipped his bread in this bowl with me is the one who will betray me,” Jesus said.
All at once, our eyes rushed to Judas. He was sitting across from Jesus, and they had been sharing the bowl all evening.
Judas saw us all staring and said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Very calmly, Jesus looked at Judas and said, “I believe you have answered your own question.”
Everyone was getting up from the table. We had sung a few of our favorite hymns to wrap up dinner. Jesus mentioned He wanted us to take an evening stroll. We all gathered our cloaks and started heading out into the night.
Some of us were talkative and some more reflective. Jesus had done the strangest thing at dinner, and many of us were puzzled. He passed around the bread saying it was His body and we should eat of it. Then He passed around the wine saying it was His blood and we should drink it.
That mixed with Judas’s strange revelation of impending betrayal—it was enough to make anyone stop in shock. I mean, we were used to weird things and odd messages, but this was taking it to a new level.
Just as I was thinking that, Jesus stopped and turned to us saying,
“This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
More puzzling information. Without a moment’s hesitation, Peter walked forward declaring he would never abandon Jesus. It didn’t seem to go well, though, because Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before morning. This made my heart sad as each of us declared our allegiance over and over again. How could He think that any of us would leave Him? Jesus turned and kept walking, so we followed.
Jesus entered a local garden called Gethsemane. The night was growing darker and darker. Jesus was very upset and turned to us and said, “I’m going to go over there to pray. All of you stay here. Peter, James, and John, please come with me.”
We left the group and followed Him deeper into the garden. As the group got farther and farther away, Jesus seemed to get more and more overwhelmed. He walked slower, and His head hung low. We looked at one another with questioning eyes. What in the world was going on with Him? He began to cry, and as His tears fell, He said to us, “My soul is overwhelmed with grief, to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
He turned and began walking away. His breath caught in His chest, and he doubled over as if in pain. His weeping became more profound, and our hearts hurt to see Him in such a way. He fell to the ground sobbing and started praying. We had never seen Him like this. He seemed so hopeless and at the end of His rope. His sobs grew louder, and His body heaved as if it were under a heavy load.
We stood there silent and in shock, unsure of what to do. Peter, James, and I backed up slowly and sat at the base of a nearby tree. Every now and again, we would look at one of the others and open our mouths, but none of us even knew what to say or what to ask. We had never seen Jesus like this before. The night was dark, and it was late. Time continued to pass, and Jesus stayed face down in the dirt. I could not hear His exact words, but He grew more and more distraught as time moved on.
The moonlight grew dim as clouds passed overhead. Peter and James were stone still and quiet. I assumed they were asleep. I tried my best to keep my eyes open, but …
“Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” He asked us.
We jolted awake as immediate disappointment filled us. Jesus was experiencing a very real and serious trial, and we couldn’t manage to stay awake. He walked back to His previous spot and continued in prayer. We each sat up straighter, vowing to keep our eyes open this time. We continued watching Him as He prayed, but our eyes grew tired once again. I’m not sure how much time had passed, but when I awoke, the moon had moved a large distance in the sky. Jesus was speaking. He looked very tired and worn out.
“Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let’s go! Here comes my betrayer!”
We all jumped to our feet in mere seconds. His betrayer? We turned to follow Him and saw Judas enter the garden. Behind Judas trailed a large group of men armed with clubs and swords. Judas walked straight to Jesus and kissed Him on the cheek. Jesus turned to face him and said, “Do what you came for.”
In a flash, men surrounded Jesus. He seemed to be letting them take Him. He did not fight against their will, although He had thrown off crowds with murderous intent before. Men were everywhere. I could not tell who was friend and who was foe. A large cry rang out. I looked to see a fellow disciple with his hand and knife covered in blood. I looked from him to the servant of the high priest. The side of his face was covered in blood, and his ear lay at his feet. Were we now in a battle? None of us were prepared for that.
Jesus looked at the disciple and said, “Put your sword back in its place, 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 Scripture be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”
Jesus then turned to the servant. His face showed so much love for him in that moment. It moved me. A man being betrayed and captured was staring at a man in pain with such selfless love. Jesus reached His hand up and touched the side of the servant’s face. In an instant the man’s ear was whole again. The servant touched his ear and looked in the face of Jesus with such shock.
Jesus looked from the servant to the entire crowd and said, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.”
In the dark, I could not see what happened next exactly. The men with clubs and swords began walking away, and Jesus was nowhere to be found. I looked around, and even the disciples were scattering. One of the men with a sword turned to me and appeared as if he may grab me, too. I had no other thoughts but to get away.
I turned and fled like the others must have. I dared a look behind me, but no one was there. I slowed to a walk. My heart was racing, and my mind was whirling. The garden was silent, and I was alone.
The story will continue in the timeline of the original events. For the next segment in the story, be sure to read “An Unlikely Intent: The Apparent End of Jesus.”
Featured Image by jozefklopacka