Arrest of Jesus

Arrest of Jesus

The Arrest of Jesus is a pivotal event recorded in the Canonical Gospels, in which Jesus is arrested. The event ultimately leads, in the Gospel accounts, to his execution.

Traditional account

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).

Judas Iscariot

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 , during the course of the evening, Jesus had told his disciples to obtain some swords.

Mysterious youth

Despite the fact that during the last supper all the disciples swore to never leave Jesus, they are described by the Synoptics and by John as quickly abandoning him here. However, the Gospel of Mark (and only Mark) adds the somewhat enigmatic coda that a young man, wearing nothing but a cloth to cover his genitals (a "loin cloth"), had been following Jesus, and still remained. Mark states that when the guards tried to grab this mysterious youth, they caught hold of the cloth, but the youth abandoned it, and escaped naked.

The mysterious youth is unidentified, and isn't referred to directly again. However, some scholars think it may be the same youth as the similarly mysterious youth clad in a white robe that Mark says was later present at the Empty Tomb of Jesus. The controversial Secret Gospel of Mark is usually considered to argue that these two youths are one and the same, as well as being the rich man that Jesus once spoke to, and a Lazarus-like figure. This speculation has been fueled by the potential implications of the Secret Gospel of Mark.

This is, however, not by any means the opinion of the academic mainstream, and critical scholarsFact|date=March 2008 instead read the youth in the Secret Gospel of Mark, and hence that present at the arrest, as an allegorical metaphor for the progress of an individual as they are initiated into Christian knowledge. Prior to the rediscovery of the Secret Gospel of Mark, the youth was interpreted either as a self-reference to the author of Mark, or as a metaphor for the disciples being "naked in the world" due to their abandoning of Jesus (Brown et al. 626), and these still remain the interpretations upheld by a large percentage of scholars, especially by the more conservative Christians.


*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

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