What Judas Brought to the Garden

Judas Betrays Jesus

Judas is one of the most well-known villains in the Bible. Most people recognize him as being the one to betray Jesus. His decision to betray the Lord is what might be expected by one of his character. Jesus called him the “son of perdition” (John 17:12). He was identified as a thief (John 12:4-6). After betraying Jesus, instead of repenting and making things right, “he went away and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:4-5). Peter also pointed out that all of this was foreknown by God and revealed in prophecy (Acts 1:16-20).

Shortly before being betrayed, Jesus “went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples” (John 18:1). It was here in the garden where Judas would betray the Lord. He knew the place to go because “Jesus had often met there with His disciples” (John 18:2).

So Judas went to the garden to betray Jesus. But notice what he brought with him. “Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons” (John 18:3). It is interesting to see what Judas brought to the garden, particularly in light of what Jesus brought to the world.

What Did Judas Bring?

The first thing mentioned that Judas brought with him to the garden was the Roman cohort. The Romans were the civil authority during that time. The Jewish leaders had wanted to put Jesus to death (Matthew 26:3-4; John 11:53), but they needed the Romans to do it (John 18:31). Judas came with those who represented the authority and military power of the Roman empire.

Judas also arrived with officers of the chief priests. The chief priests were supposed to be the spiritual leaders of the people. But they were not leading the people properly, or else they would have led them to Christ (cf. Galatians 3:24). They had left them “like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Instead they were only looking out for themselves. Their opposition to Jesus was based on their fear of losing their position of prominence and power (John 11:47-48).

Also coming with Judas were certain ones from the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the sect that followed the Law most strictly (Acts 26:5), or so they claimed. In reality, many of them were guilty of adding to God’s law (Matthew 15:7-9) and neglecting some of God’s instructions (Matthew 23:23). Despite the claim to follow the Law closely, many of them rejected Christ (Galatians 3:24). Like the chief priests, they looked out for their own interests, not those of the people (John 11:47; Matthew 23:5-7).

Judas and those who came with him arrived carrying lanterns and torches. Why did they need these? The answer is simple: It was because they came at night. Darkness provides a cover for those who sin (cf. John 3:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 5:7). In Luke’s record, Jesus made this point at His arrest: “While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours” (Luke 22:53). Their actions here were wicked and shameful. Therefore, they could not do this in the daylight. So they came at night with their artificial light sources.

Finally, John mentioned that Judas and the mob brought weapons. These were the instruments necessary to capture a dangerous criminal (Luke 22:52). And here they were bringing them in order to arrest the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

What Did Jesus Bring?

While it is interesting to see what Judas brought to the garden, it is particularly enlightening to contrast these things with the things Jesus – the one whom he was betraying – brought into the world.

Judas came with a Roman cohort, the power of the Roman empire. Jesus came to establish a divine kingdom. Later in this chapter, Jesus affirmed to Pilate that He was a king over a spiritual kingdom (John 18:36-37). His kingdom was the one that would destroy the Roman empire and would itself endure forever (Daniel 2:44).

With Judas came officers of the chief priests. Jesus came with a better priesthood. The former priests were fallible human beings (Hebrews 5:2-3). But Jesus was sinless (Hebrews 7:26). Unlike the chief priests who were only looking out for themselves, Jesus was willing to sacrifice His own life for the people (Hebrews 7:27). Despite that, He continues to hold His priesthood forever (Hebrews 7:24-25) because He was raised “never to die again” (Romans 6:9).

The Pharisees, who supposedly kept the Law strictly, ended up adding their own laws and requirements upon the people. With Jesus, we are under a better law – the “law of liberty” (James 1:25). Paul wrote, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17). With that liberty comes a freedom from sin (Romans 6:22). But it also means that we are free from following the commands of others (Colossians 2:16). We follow Christ, and Christ alone.

Judas and the others brought lanterns and torches. Jesus came as the light of the world. Earlier He said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). If we follow Him, we walk in the light. His word provides the light to show us the path we must take (Psalm 119:105; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4).

Those who came to arrest Jesus were armed with weapons. Jesus brought the sword of the Spirit. Jesus’ followers were not to use carnal weapons, as His opponents did, in order to advance His cause (Matthew 26:51-52). The weapons He gives us are far more powerful, “for the destruction of fortresses…destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). After describing the armor of God that Christians were to put on, Paul told the Ephesians to take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).

What Was the Difference?

Comparing the things Judas brought to the garden with the things Jesus brought to the world, we see one common theme – the contrast between physical things and spiritual things. Judas chose the things of this world (kingdom, priesthood, law, light, weapons). This is not surprising based on his character.

But we must not be like Judas. We must choose the spiritual things, the things us Christ – to be part of His kingdom, take advantage of His priestly sacrifice on the cross, submit to His law, walk in His light, and use His word to fight for His cause today. Judas chose poorly. Let each of us make the right choice.


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Comments

  1. Excellent, excellent contrast. I love having stuff like that hit me like a ton of bricks. Well done.

  2. Larry DeVore says

    Great Article, Andy. Ditto Jason’c comments!

  3. Mega dittos, Andy. I dig it :)

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