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The arrest of Jesus is a pivotal event recorded in the Canonical Gospels. The event ultimately leads, in the Gospel accounts, to Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus was arrested by the police force of the Sanhedrin (Kilgallen 271) in the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly after the Last Supper (during which Jesus gave his final sermon), and immediately after the kiss of Judas, which is traditionally said to have been an act of betrayal. The arrest led immediately to his trial before the Sanhedrin, during which they condemn him to death. In Christian theology, the events from the Last Supper until the death and resurrection of Jesus are referred to as The Passion.
According to the Canonical Gospels, after the Last Supper, Jesus and his disciples travel to Gethsemane, a garden located at the edge of the Kidron Valley, thought by scholars to probably have been an olive grove. Once there he is described as leaving the group so that he can pray privately.
The synoptics state that Jesus asked God that his burden be taken from him, and requesting not to need to undergo the events that he was due to, though giving the final choice to God. Luke states that an angel appeared and strengthened Jesus, who then returned to his disciples, while the other synoptics just state that he returned. The synoptics state that the three disciples that were with Jesus had fallen asleep, and that Jesus criticized them for failing to stay awake even for an hour, suggesting that they pray so that they can avoid temptation. The synoptics state that Jesus went and prayed again, and again the disciples were asleep when he returned, and that after berating them a second time he prays a third time.
At this point Judas appears on the scene, and the Synoptics add that Jesus alerts the disciples to this before Judas approaches closely. Judas is accompanied by a crowd that the Synoptics indicate as a crowd sent by the chief priests and elders (Mark includes "teachers of the law"). John adds that the crowd included some soldiers and officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. It is possible that John is referring to the Sanhedrin police force (Kilgallen 271). Regardless, when the band of men entered the garden in search of Jesus, Jesus stepped forth and asked them, "Whom seek ye?". They answered that they were indeed seeking Jesus of Nazareth, and Judas was among them. Jesus replied and spoke, "I am He", at which point all members of the arrest party fell back and on the ground.-((John:18:4-7))
The traditional accounts state that Judas gives Jesus a kiss, as a pre-arranged sign to those that had accompanied Judas as to who Jesus was. It is unclear why the crowd should not know who Jesus was, when the leaders of the Pharisees and Sadducees had engaged in dialogue with him previously, but a kiss was a traditional Jewish greeting given to a teacher, which may be the real underlying reason (Brown et al. 626). The Scholars Version notes for "The fact that Judas needs to use a sign indicates that Jesus was not known by face in Jerusalem." Having been identified, the crowd arrests Jesus, though one of Jesus' disciples tries to stop them by using a sword to cut off the ear of one of the men in the crowd. The Gospel of John specifies that it had been Simon Peter who had cut off the ear of Malchus, a servant of Caiaphas, the high priest. Luke adds that Jesus healed the wound. John, Matthew, and Luke state that Jesus criticized the violent act, insisting that they do not resist Jesus' arrest. In Matthew, Jesus says all who live by the sword shall die by the sword, a well known saying in modern times. After Jesus' trial by the Sanhedrin, according to Matthew's gospel, Judas is filled with remorse and tries to give the Pharisees the money, saying he "betrayed innocent blood." When the priests refuse and say that his morals are his own affairs, Judas angrily throws the money into the temple, leaves, and subsequently hangs himself. The book of Acts states that Judas used the money to buy a field, where he fell headlong, "his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out." The field is specifically known as Akeldama, or "Field of blood." (Skeptics cite these accounts as being mutually exclusive. Apologists harmonize these events by positing that Judas bought the field and hanged himself, and sometime later his rotted corpse burst open.)
In the newly reconstructed Gospel of Judas Judas is portrayed as being Jesus' most prized disciple, one to whom he taught many hidden truths. Judas' actions are not a betrayal in this account, but an act of friendship, and Judas is acting on Jesus' explicit instructions.
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- Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament Doubleday 1997 ISBN 0-385-24767-2
- Brown, Raymond E. et al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary Prentice Hall 1990 ISBN 0-13-614934-0
- Kilgallen, John J. A Brief Commentary on the Gospel of Mark Paulist Press 1989 ISBN 0-8091-3059-9
- Miller, Robert J. Editor The Complete Gospels Polebridge Press 1994 ISBN 0-06-065587-9