Whom Seek Ye?

John 18:3-4.

Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.


Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

Gethsemane, in Hebrew, simply means oil press. We can deduce, therefore, that it was at some point an olive garden, or at least a place in which olives were pressed. In Jesus’ time, it seems that it had become like a modern city park, a place of rest and relaxation for anyone who cared to use it.

But it was not restful on this night.

Judas Iscariot, having agreed to betray Jesus to the priests of the Temple, was given men and weapons to go and find Jesus and bring Him to the priestly council.

There is some question about the number of men and officers. What is clear is that they were heavily armed; that they expected to have to hunt for Him, and therefore carried lanterns and torches even though there was a full moon. Every source I looked at states that the troops were Roman soldiers, since the Jews were not allowed any militia while Rome occupied Israel. There could have been a huge number of them, depending on the perceived threat of Jesus and His disciples. There were officers of the Temple, likely sent to make the proceedings legal according to Jewish law and custom. It would seem, then, that Judas was very well-equipped to identify Jesus without any risk to himself, which tells us that Judas still didn’t truly understand with Whom he was dealing.

Jesus, knowing every detail of this event before it happened, made no attempt to hide. In fact, He walked up to the group and asked them who it was they were looking for. Did any of them, aside from Judas, recognize Him? Did the disciples gasp in fear and astonishment that Jesus so boldly approached this posse that had come to arrest Him?

In my imagination, Jesus stood before the crowd calmly and quietly. He stood straight and tall, His eyes resting on Judas for a moment, but scanning everyone else in the crowd as well. He didn’t waste words, but silently waited for their response. I imagine several moments of complete silence as Jesus waited for Judas to make his move.

The Final Four

Matthew 10:3-4. “. . .James the son of Alpheus, and Lebbeus, whose surname was Thaddeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.”

The James in this verse is the son of Alphaeus, a cousin of Jesus and brother to Judas (not Iscariot), Matthew, and Simon Zelotes. He is not the James in Matt. 13:55 and Mark 6:3, who was the brother of Jesus. There is some uncertainty about his death, although it seems clear he was martyred.

Thaddeus  was also called Jude, not to be confused with Judas Iscariot.  The multiple names of many of these men comes from the differences in language used by the various writers of the gospels.  They are not contradictions. You can follow all of them through the gospels quite easily by using the notes in your own Bibles.  Tradition holds that  Jude preached the gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Libya. He was beheaded, as far as we know.

Simon the  Canaanite is also called Zelotes (a fanatic, a member of a Jewish party that rebelled against the Romans). Tradition says that he was crucified in Syria.  He is supposed to have been a brother to James, Matthew, and Judas.

Judas Iscariot, of course, is best-known for his betrayal of Jesus. At first, he was just as all the other disciples, empowered and chosen. He was the treasurer of the group, and a successful preacher and healer (Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:10). At what point he began to doubt, deny or become greedy, we do not know.  Be assured, however, that the seeds of sin were dropped carefully into his mind and heart until he was willing to sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. His end, of course, is well-known. He is probably the most famous suicide of all time.

So there you have it; a group of ordinary men who left everything to follow Jesus throughout His earthly ministry and beyond, most of them to suffer martyrdom after spending their lives preaching and teaching the gospel of Christ.  Tomorrow, we’ll begin to see more of the work they did at Jesus’ bidding.