After his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was over, and he was satisfied that his Father had reached out to comfort him through the presence of an angel, Jesus came to his disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow. Luke tells us that he told them to wake-up and pray, so they wouldn’t enter into temptation (Luke 22:45-46). The other Synoptics have Jesus telling his disciples to continue sleeping, but many scholars believe Matthew’s and Mark’s “Sleep on, now, and take your rest…” should be a question: “Do you sleep and take rest now?” (Matthew 26:45; Mark 14:41). If this is so, we have total agreement between the three records of Jesus’ prayer in the garden.
As Jesus yet spoke with his disciples, Judas came with the multitude of chief priests and elders together with the Temple guard (Luke 22:47, 52). Mark adds scribes (rabbis) to the list (cf. Mark 14:43). Judas knew of the place where Jesus was on the mount (cf. Luke 22:39), because Jesus often went there with his disciples to spend the night.
As he led the multitude to the garden, Judas came near Jesus and kissed him (Luke 22:47; Matthew 26:49; Mark 14:45). This kiss was the token signal to the Temple guard with him (Mark 14:44) that the man was indeed Jesus, whom they sought. The word for “kiss” is kataphileo (G2705). It is made up of two Greek words: kata (G2596) meaning “against,” and phileo (G5368) meaning “love” or “denoting the personal affection of a friend”). This second word was often used by Peter to express his friendship for Christ (cf. John 21:15-17). So, right up to the last, Judas acted out his subtlety, causing the other disciples to believe all was well for the moment, so advantage could be taken. Thus expressing his love for Christ, Judas could have easily told the others later that he had been deceived by the chief priests. He could have told them that he thought he was orchestrating a reconciliation between the chief priests and Christ, and the weapons of the Temple guard were to be at Christ’s service against the Romans. The different excuses one could imagine to hide one’s sin are nearly endless.
After Judas greeted him, Jesus looked at Judas and asked if he decided to betray the Son of Man with a kiss (Luke 22:48). In other words, Jesus knew exactly what Judas was doing. Jesus also used his Messianic title: Son of Man, which may be a point of irony in that Judas fancied himself a zealot (a member of the Sicarii), who looked for the coming of the Messiah to free the Jews from their enemies. So, not only wasn’t Judas a faithful disciple, he wasn’t even a good zealot!
When the disciples realized what was taking place, they asked Jesus if they should smite their enemies with the sword (Luke 22:49). One of them (Peter, according to John 18:10) didn’t wait for Jesus to reply. He immediately struck at the high priest’s servant (probably the captain of the Temple guard) and cut off his ear (Luke 22:50).
Resisting arrest has always been a crime, and, legally speaking, whatever trumped-up charge the Jewish authorities had hoped to use to arrest Jesus was no longer needed, because, due to the disciples’ threat and the assault against the legitimate Jewish authorities, they now had just cause to take Jesus into custody, because they were now able to number him among the transgressors (H6586 – i.e. the rebels; cf. Isaiah 53:12).
It is difficult to understand to whom Jesus spoke the words: “Allow this.” Was he speaking to his disciples, telling them to permit his arrest, or was he speaking to the Jewish authorities, telling them there would be no more violence and allow his disciples their freedom? While I believe Jesus spoke to his disciples (Luke 22:51) and then turned to the Jewish authorities (Luke 22:52), it could be either way, according to Biblical scholarship. Jesus then healed the high priest’s servant (Luke 22:51), thus removing any real reason to suspect further resistance.
The groups of authorities who came to arrest Jesus seem to represent the Sanhedrin. They were the chief priests, elders and the Temple guard (Levites) and scribes (Luke 22:52; Mark 14:43), all of whom were members of the high court (cf. Luke 20:1). Jesus accused them of hypocrisy, pointing out that he had taught publicly in the Temple every day, but they never attempted to seize him in public. Yet, now, under the cover of darkness, they had made their move against him (Luke 22:52-53). Why would legitimate authorities do such a thing, if what they were doing was legitimate? They could have done this very thing in public at any time, but they refrained from doing so. Thus, their deed was exposed as evil.