Left Him and Fled
47While 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.
48Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.”
49And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.
50Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.
51And 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.
52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
53Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
54But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”
55At 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.
56But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
We’ve all been in those pressure cookers in life where all we want is out of a bad situation. To run is a basic human instinct. We all learned about the “fight or flight” response back in psych class. Chances are flight is the first choice because few of us want to fight. And that is exactly what we witness in the story of Jesus’ arrest as His disciples react to a terrible situation. First they, or more specifically Peter (John 18:10), choose fight. Jesus admonishes Peter for that choice and so all that is left to them is flight. “Then all the disciples left Him and fled.” That choice to flee could quite possibly have saved their lives because the Romans wouldn’t have minded killing them too. This was a singularly unique situation.
Throughout my life, I have seen many people do exactly the same thing as the disciples when life becomes difficult; they leave God behind and flee. It is always a mistake but it is often the choice that is made. If God doesn’t solve our problems the way we want or when we want, we break and run. But leaving God’s side is never the right choice and we know it.
As I think through this passage I am also aware of the fact that God never needs us to defend Him. He is more than capable of taking care of Himself. John’s rendering of this account tells us that this group of soldiers fell to the ground before Jesus when He identified Himself. And here in Matthew Jesus reminds the entire group that He had legions of angels to call down in His defense. He chooses not to do that because that wouldn’t have served His greater purpose. But in no way did He need the disciples to jump to His aid. God never needs that. The entire Old Testament teaches us to run to God for His protection and help. He alone is “our every present help in time of trouble.”