Who We Really Are When No One Is Looking: What Luke 22:47-53 Teaches Us About Jesus And About Us

Posted: May 16, 2015 in Gospel of Luke
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Luke 22:47-53 — This is it. The whirlwind of action begins. The easy road is over. Jesus is set on a course that will take us to the cross and beyond. The action does not cease from this moment until they lay Jesus in the tomb. Only then is there a break in the action. It is like watching movies like Lone Survivor or American Sniper where once the action starts, it does not stop until the movie is almost over. Events are speeding up. The point of no return is here. What is it that we learn from this scene in Luke 22:47-53? The thing that strikes me heart today is that it is all done in the dark. It is all secretive. It is all back alley. It is all deceitful. However, through it all, God uses the situation to accomplish His purpose.

A good many years ago, a former boss of mine gave me some really sage wisdom when it came to making decisions about whether to do something that is questionable morally or not. He said that when faced with those situations, you need to ask yourself a question. If everything we did made the newspapers, would you want your mother or father to read about this? Would you want your friends and family to read about the action that you are contemplating right now? Pretty esoteric stuff there, but there is so much truth to what he said. Most of us are not popular enough or do not hold high public office such that every move we make is tabloid worthy. That is what comes to mind when I read this passage. The religious leaders had to come by the light of the moon to arrest Jesus. This was not done in the light of day. This was not done in the center of Jerusalem as Jesus was preaching and teaching at the Temple. It was done outside public view. There is just plain out deceit and dishonor written all over this scene.

First, you have Judas. Because of the lack of street lights in those days, the temple guards would not have been able to see very far with their lanterns so they needed the help of Judas in the darkness to know who to arrest. Isaiah prophesied in 53:2 that the Messiah would not be some chiseled handsome man like the Jesus of “The Bible” miniseries (my wife call that guy who played Jesus in The Bible miniseries, “the pretty Jesus”). He was apparently just an everyday looking kind of guy. Therefore, Judas had to identify Jesus in some way for them. He chooses a way that is unique I think and it so fitting for this night. It was deceitful. In all cultures throughout history, the kiss is symbolic of affection. It is symbolic of reverence and honor. It is symbolic of there being some type of relationship between the kissor and and the kissee. Judas could have just grabbed Jesus by his garments and said, “Here! This is the man you want!” But, no, he chose to identify Jesus by kissing Him. Why? I think that this is the power of evil. It appears to be one thing but really is something else. Judas gave the appearance of being Jesus’ friend by kissing Him but really he was now an enemy of Christ. Evil can dress itself up to seduce us and deceive us into falling into Satan’s lair. But, it is the very power of the seduction that ends up destroying us. Judas was a thief throughout Jesus ministry even though the disciples had trusted him. He was out to satisfy his own lust for power and position. He gave all the right appearances of being a disciple. However, though he was as close to Jesus as only 12 men in history got to be but yet he was as far away from Jesus as the staunchest atheist is today. Sometimes, we encounter people in the body of Christ that are Judases. They say and do all the right things but yet they are ultimately there to satisfy their own egos. Deceit and distrust follow. In Judas, we have one example of the deceit of this night.

Second, we have the Temple guards representing the leaders of the Temple. They are there because the high priest wanted Jesus out of the way. Jesus was heralding a change in the relationship of God to man. Their entire religious and economic system was built around the Temple and Jesus was threatening to change all that. The commotion caused by a popular Messiah could lead to the whole city erupting an clamoring for a change in the status quo. Part of that status quo was the uneasy detente between the Jewish religious leaders who provided the day to day governance of the Jewish people and the Roman occupation forces and administration. This popular Messiah who called the religious leaders fake and ruthless and hypocritical. If Jesus’ popularity continued to grow, the whole house of cards could come crashing down and the Romans would fill the streets with blood. Jesus had to go. But they could not do it in daylight. They had to do in the dark. They didn’t want to do in the light of day for fear of riots. Jesus was immensely popular. Jesus was known throughout the city. He was causing quite a stir among the average citizens of Jerusalem. They knew they had no basis for his arrest. They had to do it when no one was looking. The deceit of this night. Back room politics. Politicians forcing their views on the general populace. Politicians doing whatever it takes to keep their hold on power and wealth. The deceit of this night. Satan revels in such things. He loves for people to fall prey to the seductions of power and prestige so that they will not worship God. It reminds us of whether we are the same when we are alone vs. who we are in public. Are we the same by ourselves as when we are surrounded by people. What are true colors when no one is watching? Are we deceitful when no one is looking and pious when someone is? Who are we really? When we have the chance to do something that is morally wrong but there is no chance of being found out, will we do what is morally wrong because it feels good to do it? Satan smiles when we are alone and choose ways that are far from God.

Third, and the most amazing part and point of this passage, is the fact that despite what all is about to happen, Jesus finds time to heal a man’s wound. Despite being arrested and about to be carried away for beatings, lies, and brutality, Jesus heals a wounded man. That man’s life I am willing to be was changed forever as a result. We do not know his name and we here no more of him before or after this scene. But, I would be willing to bet that he was never the same after that night. That is the amazing thing about the Jesus effect. Jesus can take the worst of situations and make them into something that gives God glory. Isn’t this true of our lives as well, Jesus steps into the mire and muck of our lives and touches us and heals us. We are forever changed. He walks into all of our deceits and lies and the place that it has led us and He touches us. Jesus can change everything for us. Our dirty little lies and our dastardly deceits and the mess they caused can become part of our testimony as to the power of the healing hand of Jesus Christ. In the midst of turmoil, Jesus has time to heal a guard. In the midst of the hopelessness of our lives at the moment that we are defenseless, where everything has fallen apart and we have no more lies or deceits to tell to cover up the mess of our lies, we fall to our knees. Our mess of life lay around us like this guards ear. We are bleeding from the choices of our lives. Jesus is there to heal. Jesus is there to restore. He has time for you and He has time for me. Call on His name as you look at your life of bleeding and your ear laying on the ground. Call on His name as you reap the results of a life lived to preserve yourself and to please your own needs. He has time to heal you.

In the end, we know the purpose of this story. Judas thought he could personally force Jesus’ hand in establishing a new world order, a place where Judas would be powerful and at the center of it. The Jewish leaders were using Judas to get rid of a threat to their way of life, their power, their wealth, their safety before the Romans. They were trying to preserve what was dear to them. All of these things converge into a deceitful, disgraceful night. However, God uses the free will acts of man to put together the patchwork and fabric of His plan, His redemptive plan for mankind. Each of these characters in this scene are thinking that they are doing what preserves their plans, but God is orchestrating it all to achieve His. He uses the deceit of these characters to achieve the signature moment in history. Jesus taking on the wrath of God for all sins for all time. This was the plan all along. The cross was the plan. It reminds us that God works all things for the glory of those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Your ugly deceits and lies and all that rebellion against Him, He is using to weave your way to the cross. He brings us to our knees at the cross. There through the effects of our lies and deceits, we stand naked and defenseless before our Lord and we cry out. All of the ugly is gone. Jesus heals. Our past is just that. It is fuel for our fervor for Him. We do not want to be the man before the cross anymore. It is by grace that we pass through the cross into our new life. Our past is there to remind us, to give testimony to the power of Jesus. God uses it all, the good, the bad, the ugly to accomplish His will. He is God!

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