AN ATHEISTIC BIBLE READING JESUS IS ARRESTED AT GETHSEMENE
Right after The Last Supper, Jesus is arrested. He goes with the Apostles from the house in Jerusalem where they dined, to the Mount of Olives and then to the gardens at Gethsemene, where they are all camping for the night. The use of all three locations in one night is one of the story’s least convincing elements.
MATTHEW – Jesus warned the Apostles that they would sleep through his crisis as they moved through to Gethsemene. Now that prediction quickly comes true. It isn’t surprising that everyone would be tired, after a major feast, lots of wine, and the late night walk (including a climb up Mount Olive). Jesus remains awake and alert, but he knows the anguish he is so soon to endure. He is understandably nervous.
As the Apostles set up camp at Gethsemene, Jesus tells them he wants to go to a quiet area of the garden to pray to his Father for guidance, given what is due to happen. He invites Peter, James & John to acompany him part of the way, and then seperates himself a little from them too, though still within their sight. They cannot hear his prayers and laments, which begs the question of how they came to be written down.
Jesus begs himself as his Father, God, to take the cup of death away from him as it is too much to bear. He returns briefly to the Apostles to find thatthey have fallen asleep. He is now totally unguarded. Jesus then goes back to recant the initial prayer, assuringGod thathe will do his bidding for hm. On return, he find the Apostles are still asleep. He goes away to pray a third time, repeating verbatim the second prayer, in case daddy missed itthe first time. On returning the third time to the Apostles, e findsthem still asleep, except for Judas, who has not been present, and now approaches with the arrest party.
Judas leads a large millitia, consisting of men sent bythe High Priests. The armed men carry clubs, swords. Jesus has arranged to kiss the man he wishes to have arrested, as as signal of his intentions. This he does.
Tere is much wrong here. A/. Jesus has been in Jerusalem often enough to be easily recognisable to at least some of the men sent to arrest him. B/. As Jesus is the only one awake, the kiss is superflous and possibly intended to be a poetic touch of melodrama. Judas had merely to point to him or say that he was the one standing up and moving around.
As the men reach for Jesus to arrest him, an un-named Apostle finally wakes up, and attacks the servant of the high priest, cutting his ear off. This will be with one of the swords Jesus specifically had the Apostles fetch along after the Last Supper. Jesus immediately orders an end to the violence and demands that the sword be sheathed again. He points outthat if he chose, he could have an army of angels by his side to protect him He intends to be arrested, and to go quietly. Jesus points out an obvious fact – he has been in the Temple every day and easily within rreachof any arrest party, but they have chosent to do it this way.
The Apostles, awaken and flee, leaving jesus to face his fate alone for now at least.
MARK - This runs very much as Matthew’s version, except for a mysterious add on at the finale, when Jesus’s arrest party is followed by a young un-named boy who the guards try to sieze. The boy escapes but has to abandon his clothes to the hands of the men who try to grab him. He runs away naked.
LUKE – Jesus’s solitary prayers are answered by an angel who arrives to mop his brow and sympathize with the Messiah for the tragedy about to unfold. The sleeping Apostles miss this..
Jesus actually heals the ear of the man who has his ear cut off. Jesus puts it back on for him as good as new. The others omit this silly minor miracle. Luke does not describe the other Apostles running away to save themselves from sharing in Jesus’s fate.
JOHN – John has Jesus offer the Apostles a long instruction filled and emotive farewell speech. He tells them he is going to his Father’s mansion to prepare rooms for them when they die and get to Heaven. (Jesus has to do the maid’s work there too?). Jesus promises to return in spirit to be with his followers in their despair. He acknowledges that he and his Father are one and the same entity. Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will stay with them all. Judas asks why the Holy Ghost can’t be bestowed on everyone on Earth – an excellent question. Jesus tells Judas that only those believing in Jesus will feel the Holy Ghost. This is rather like wishing really hard to make fairies come true.
The long prayer session over, Jesius walks to Gethsemene with the Apostles, all of who are awake, and they see a contingent of soldiers approaching from a nearby hill, led by Judas, which is odd and a serious mistake in continuity given that Judas was talking to Jesus so soon before hand. Though John acknowledges that some Pharisees are in the arrestparty they appear to be professional soldiers, possibly Roman, and not just a posse of local hired thugs as in the other Gospels. The arrest parety come with lanterns, torches (as it is night time and therefore dark) and assorted weapons.
Jesus asks them wo they want. They tell him that they seek Jesus and he promptly reveals that he is Jesus. His answer makesthem all fall to the ground. Jesus asks them again who they seek. They tell him again thatthey seek Jesus, and that they should take only him, allowingthe others, The Apostles, to leave. It looks as if if some attempt has ben made to arrest them too. Quite how the arrest team do this while also lying on the floor at Jesus’s command is unclear.
Peter attacks the guards, curtting off the earof a soldier called Malchus. This is the only Gospoel to name and shame the ear cutter, as well as his victim. Jesus is bound and led off to a meeting with Caiphas. In John’s account, Judas does not betray Jesus with a kiss at all, nor are we told that the Apostles ran away and left Jesus to his fate. The conflicts in these accounts make the story utterly unconnvincing and absurd. Judas is simply not needed for any of this, other than possibly telling the arrest team where Jesus was likely to be at any given time.