The Arrest of Jesus: Part I
Jesus Arrested in the Garden
While John is the only Gospel writer to record the Lord's washing of the disciples'
feet and the lengthy discourse and prayer at the end of the Passover meal, he is also the
only one of the four that does NOT mention His agonizing Gethsemane prayer.
We cannot say for sure why the apostle omits the garden travail. However, he
does tell us that those things he has written were specifically chosen for an eternal
purpose. "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of
God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:31).
By choosing NOT to describe the anguish of the Master's supplication, John
immediately focuses upon the details of His arrest. Therefore, we will pay particular
attention first to the place of His arrest.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the
brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted
thither with his disciples (John 18:1-2).
A. "Over the Brook Cedron"
1. Meaning of the Name
"Cedron" is the same as the Hebrew "Kidron." It is the name of a brook near
Jerusalem which would have little water during the dry season but would swell during the
rainy season. The name is derived from a Hebrew root QADAR (#6937) which means,
"to be ashy" or "dark colored" and by implication came to mean "to mourn (in sackcloth
or sordid garments)" (Strongs, page 102). Therefore, the "Cedron" would be as a "dusky"
or "murky" or "dismal" place.
2. Old Testament Pictures of the Brook Kidron
a. The Flight of David from Absalom
The first time the Brook Kidron is mentioned in Scripture is when David fled
from Jerusalem at the time of Absalom's revolt. It was a time of great sorrow and
consternation. "And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people passed
over: the king also himself passed over the brook Kidron, and all the people passed over,
toward the way of the wilderness" (II Samuel 15:23).
b. The Curse of Shemei
In I Kings 2:37 Shemei, who had cursed David, was sentenced to dwell in
Jerusalem the rest of his life with the following pronouncement. "For it shall be that on
the day thou goest out, and passest over the brook Kidron, thou shalt know for certain
that thou shalt surely die." When he disobeyed, "The king commanded Benaiah the son of
Jehoiada; which went out, and fell upon him, that he died" (I Kings 2:46).
c. The Revivals of the Kings of Judah
When Asa, the son of Abijam, became king of Judah he removed his mother
Maachah from being queen and "destroyed her idol and burnt it by the brook Kidron" (I
Kings 15:13; II Chronicles 15:16). Thus Asa ushered in the first great revival in Judah
after Solomon introduced the gods of his wives to the country, Rehoboam caused the
kingdom to be divided and Abijam "walked in the all the sins of his father."
This action by Asa, who "did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord" (I
Kings 15:11) and whose "heart was perfect with the Lord all his days" (I Kings 15:14),
became a model for the revivals of both Hezekiah and Josiah. Both kings followed Asa's
example in destroying the idols at the brook Kidron.
II Kings 23:4-6 (Josiah's Revival)
And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second
order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of the Lord all
the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of
heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and
carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.
And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah and ordained to
burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round
about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the
moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.
And he brought out the grove from the house of the Lord, without Jerusalem, unto
the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to
powder, and cast the poser thereof upon the graves of the children of the people.
II Chronicles 29:15-16 (Hezekiah's Revival)
And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according
to the commandment of the king, by the words of the Lord, to cleanse the house of
the Lord. And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord, to
cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the
Lord into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it, to carry it out
abroad into the brook Kidron.
d. The Prophecy of Jeremiah
Later when Jeremiah prophesied of the days when God would "make
a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah" (Jeremiah 31:31),
he also referred to the brook Kidron as being a place of both final judgment and
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord from
the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. And the measuring line shall
yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to
Goath. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the
fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east,
shall be holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more
3. Scriptural Implications of the Brook Cedron
From its name and these Old Testament pictures there is at least a fourfold
implication of the brook Cedron – the brook which John carefully notes that Jesus passed
over just before his arrest.
a. The Dismal Darkness of That Night
First, the name "Cedron" (or, "Kidron") implied a place of murky and dismal
darkness. By choosing the place the Lord showed that He was willfully submitting
Himself to man's blackest night of infinite squalor.
b. The Recompense for Sin
Second, as David passed over the brook paying for the product of his own past
sins as manifested in Absalom, so the Son of David chose to pass over Cedron in order to
pay for the recompense sin – not His own sin, but the sin of the whole world, both past
and present. (See also Shemei.)
c. Judgment Against All Idolatry
Third, as the three anointed Kings of Israel passed over Kidron in order to destroy
the false gods and filth of idolatrous worship and bring revival to Israel, so the anointed
Christ would destroy the gods of this world and the filth of ungodly lives and bring a
restoration of holiness to those who would believe on Him.
d. Holiness Unto the Lord
Fourth, as Jeremiah prophesied, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will
make a new covenant ...for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no
more" (Jeremiah 31:31,34). In that day Kidron, which has been the place of judgment
against idolatry, will itself be purged and "all the fields unto the brook of Kidron" will be
"holy unto the Lord; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever"
B. "Where Was a Garden, Into Which He Entered"
Whereas both Matthew and Mark name the Garden of Gethsemane and Luke
notes that it is at the mount of Olives, John simply focuses in on the fact that Jesus chose
a garden for the place of His arrest. The garden forces us to look back to the beginning, at
the present day, and into the future.
1. The Garden of Eden
It was in the Garden of Eden that God first placed man and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life. It was in a garden man named the beasts. It was in a garden that
man first knew the love of woman. It was in a garden that man and woman first knew the
fellowship of God as He walked with them in the cool of the day.
But it was also in a garden that Satan began his assault upon God's highest
creation. It was in a garden that Eve yielded to temptation and ate of the forbidden fruit.
It was in a garden that through Adam all men died. It was in a garden that man first tried
to cover his own sins by his own works. It was in a garden that the curse of sin was
pronounced upon man. It was in a garden that man was banished from the presence of
However, it was also in a garden that the promise was given of the woman's seed
who would defeat Satan. It was in a garden that the first substitution was made for man's
sin. It was in a garden that man was first clothed by God Himself in a righteous manner.
2. The Garden of Love
The inspired poet described the beautiful relationship of marriage love in terms of
a delightful garden. Paul emphasizes that this wonderful garden of marriage is also a
picture of our glorious relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Song of Solomon 4:10-15
How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! How much better is thy love than wine!
and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips, 0 my spouse, drop as the
honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments
is like the smell of Lebanon. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring
shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with
pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron; calamus and
cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief
spices: a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave
himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by
the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot,
or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So
ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth
himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth
it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and
of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be
joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I
speak concerning Christ And the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in
particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her
3. The Garden of Paradise
Not only does the garden in which the Lord was arrested point as a memorial back
to Eden, and as a token of our present relationship with Him, but it also points as a type
towards the future glory of the eternal Paradise.
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of
the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either
side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and
yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of
the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the
Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face;
and his name shall be in their foreheads.
C. The Significance of the Garden in Which the Lord Was Arrested
So John carefully points out that the Lord chose a garden to begin the
consummation of His victory over Satan. From the context of Scripture we can see at
least a threefold significance of the garden in which the Lord was arrested.
1. The Lord's Triumph Over Satan and Sin
First, from this garden the Lord will finally overcome every temptation, which
caused man to be alienated from the Father in the first garden. He will yield Himself to
the curse of death that will atone for man's sin, even as the animal was sacrificed by God
for Adam and Eve. His own righteousness will provide the clothing whereby man again
can stand unashamed in the presence of God. As the Seed of woman He will fulfill the
promise to crush the serpents head even though His own heel will be bruised.
2. The Loving Relationship Between Christ and His Bride
Second, those who believe in Him are promised a love garden relationship with
Him. The believing bride yearns from within to have that closeness of spiritual
relationship, even as man and wife. The Bridegroom responds in tenderness and
Song of Solomon 1:2-4 – The Yearning of the Bride
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.
Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth,
therefore do the virgins love thee. Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath
brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will
remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.
Song of Solomon 4:1 and 5:1 – The Response of The Bridegroom
Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair ...I am come into my garden,
my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my
honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk.
Jeremiah described the beautiful relationship between the Lord and His faithful
servants. "Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall
say, Here I am ...And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in
drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden" (Isaiah
3. The Hope of Paradise
Third, the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8) awaits the
day when He will stand "in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts and in the midst
of the elders" and take "the book out of the right hand of him that sits upon the throne"
(Rev. 5:6,7). John describes the vision he saw on Patmos.
And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell
down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of
odours, which are the prayers of saints... and I heard the voice of many angels
round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them
was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands ...And every
creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as
are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and
glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb for
ever and ever (Revealtion 5).
At that time the Old Testament prophecies will be fulfilled and the words of
Isaiah will come to pass, "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former
shall not be remembered nor come to mind" (Isaiah 65:17). Zion will be a garden of the
Lord. "For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will
make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and
gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody" (Isaiah 51:4).
Jesus arrested in the Garden.
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