by J. Gerald Harris

Hold Back the Angels
J. Gerald Harris
Matthew 26:53-54

The garden of Gethsemane is enshrouded in darkness. The benediction has been pronounced at the prayer meeting that Jesus alone attended. The sleepy disciples have been gathered up. Jesus and eleven of His men stand in the midst of the garden surrounded by knurled olive trees.

Suddenly there is the sound of marching feet and the clanging of armor. In a moment's time the garden is bright with the light of torches carried by the temple guards. The garden is filled with a great multitude with swords and clubs. Suddenly this quiet prayer retreat is transformed into a potential battleground.

All of a sudden Judas emerges as the leader of this vigilante mob, and he walks up to Jesus. And with the sound like the hissing of a snake, he says, ''Hail, Master.'' Judas plants a kiss on the altogether lovely face of the Lord Jesus. With that kiss of death Jesus was betrayed by Judas.

When this happened, Peter, being the impetuous fellow that he was and realizing what was happening, drew his sword and struck the first man he could reach. I've never been able to understand why he didn't strike Judas. I think if I had been Peter I would have gone after Judas, the sorry rascal. But Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest.

Then notice that Jesus steps forward. Possessing more tenderness and gentleness than anyone could imagine. He touches Malchus, the chief servant of the high priest, and his ear is restored. Notice what Jesus says to Peter in verse 52 of Matthew 26, ''Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.''

Then I want you to notice our text again in verses 53 and 54 (read).

There are several things I want us to notice in our text.

Don't you think for a moment that Jesus was a helpless, powerless victim of these sinister, demon-possessed invaders of the garden that night. I tell you, with the snap ...

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