“. . . A great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people” (Matthew 26:47).
The crowd that captured Jesus at Gethsemane illustrates the world’s sinful, hateful rejection of Jesus Christ.
A crowd can have a positive, uplifting influence, as when a large group of neighbors bands together to help someone in need. But crowds can also have a negative impact, such as when they incite riots or heckle someone who is trying to give a speech.
The multitude that came to the Garden of Gethsemane to capture Jesus is a prime example of a crowd that formed for an evil purpose. That throng was not at all like the spontaneous groups of admirers that often sought the Lord. Instead, it was a carefully selected group whose only purpose was to arrest Jesus and ensure that He was executed.
Judas most likely rushed away from the upper room and informed the Jewish leaders that now was the time they had long waited for—an opportunity to seize Jesus, convict Him of rebellion against Rome, and force the Romans to put Him to death. By now the conspiracy against Jesus had grown very large and involved the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the entire Sanhedrin. In their desire to guarantee Jesus’ capture, the leaders gathered perhaps a thousand men that night.
This evil group was a prophetic portrait of the world’s opposition to Christ through the ages. The crowd illustrated sinful disobedience by falsely accusing Him of crimes, by mindlessly and selfishly participating in His arrest (even without an informed opinion about Him), and by cowardly using the cover of darkness and the safety of an obscure location to implement the leaders’ plot.
The unbelieving world has always disdained God’s kingdom and the mission of His Son. Instead of coming in repentance and faith and reverently embracing Christ’s work on the cross, the world wants to find any excuse to do away with the Savior. In contrast, believers are called to stand apart from any unbelieving crowd and defend the name of Jesus Christ.
Suggestions for Prayer
Pray for the discernment and courage not to follow the mind-set of the world’s crowd, but to rather be obedient to the Lord Jesus.
For Further Study
• The large crowds that followed Jesus earlier in His ministry were not always sincere. Read John 6, and note the various ways the people misunderstood Jesus’ message.
• How did He answer their objections and grumblings?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.