Summary: 1) The Attack of the Crowd (Matthew 26:47), 2) The Kiss of the Traitor (Matthew 26:48–50a), 3) The Presumption of Peter (Matthew 26:50b–53) and finally 4) The Fulfillment of Prophecy (Matthew 26:54-56).
Matthew 26:47–56. 47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. (ESV)
As Jesus Road into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday, this Triumphal Entry was demonstrating a new Kingdom reality. He did not come as a conquering Hero, but as a suffering servant. He did not come to overthrow a political and military entity, but explain the realities of a new spiritual kingdom. The kingdom of God does not advance with fleshly weapons or by fleshly strategy. The battleground is spiritual, and it makes no sense to fight with physical weapons. Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm” (John 18:36). Wars such as the Crusades that are fought in the name of Christ are an affront to Christ. In reality, they are crusades against the very One who is claimed to be served.
Both the faithful and unfaithful disciples of Christ have forgotten this reality. In Matthew 27, Peter sought to defend Christ through the use of a sword. Jesus restrained Peter and explained a much different kingdom reality. Peter was well meaning but mistaken. When corrected by Christ, he heeded the requirements of this new kingdom life. Judas, who followed Jesus for years and managed the financial resources, was also mistaken in the expectations of this new kingdom reality. He loved the ways of the world and betrayed his professed master when he had the opportunity.
Matthew 27 is a frightening lesson in “The Darkness of Betrayal”. Although we may profess to be a follower of Christ, we look at the events here and must ask ourselves if we are seeking to do the Lord’s work in the world’s way. Are we following Jesus merely to enrich ourselves, avoid disaster, be a part of the inner circle, or have the inside track? If unchecked, our emotions and mistaken understanding will lead to either rebuke or ruin.
Matthew 26:47-56, present the failure to head the new kingdom reality that Christ displayed in His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. In this “Darkness of Betrayal” we see four pictures in 1) The Attack of the Crowd (Matthew 26:47), 2) The Kiss of the Traitor (Matthew 26:48–50a), 3) The Presumption of Peter (Matthew 26:50b–53) and finally 4) The Fulfillment of Prophecy (Matthew 26:54-56).
The Darkness of Betrayal, rejecting the new kingdom reality is first shown through:
1) The Attack of the Crowd (Matthew 26:47)
Matthew 26:47. 47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people.
While Jesus was still speaking to the eleven disciples in the garden, admonishing them to be spiritually vigilant and announcing to them His imminent betrayal (vv. 45–46), behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up. It seems strange and inappropriate that Judas would still be called one of the twelve while he was in the very act of betrayal. One would think Matthew would have been loath to refer to him in such a way. By the time the gospels were written, Judas’s name had long been a byword among Christians, a synonym for treachery and infamy. Why, we might wonder, was he not referred to as the false disciple or the one who counted himself among the twelve? But, in fact, all four gospel writers specifically speak of Judas as “one of the twelve” (Matt. 26:14, 47; Mark 14:10, 20, 43; Luke 22:47; John 6:71), whereas no other disciple is individually designated in that way. The writers clearly identify Judas as the betrayer of Jesus, but they do not speak of him with overt disdain or hatred. They are remarkably restrained in their descriptions and assessments of him, never using derogatory epithets or fanciful episodes, as did many extrabiblical writers. Rather than minimizing the heinousness of Judas’ treachery, this heightens the insidiousness of his crime more than any list of epithets could do. Judas is a warning to all mere adherents of religion. Judas was a chosen apostle, an eyewitness of the miracles, a hearer of the Lord’s sermons, a fellow laborer with the eleven, and a reputable professor of religion. Not one of the eleven seems to have doubted him. Yet Judas was no friend of Jesus. He was lost and is now in hell. Learn from Judas how important it is to make your calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). (Boice, J. M. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (p. 575). Baker Books.)