The Mob: Matthew 26:55-56
“55) At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me. 56) But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled.” Matthew‬ ‭26‬:‭55‬-‭56‬
The details of the mob that arrived to arrest Jesus must be compiled from several texts. Matthew 26:47 says it was a great multitude with swords and clubs from the chief priests and elders of the people. According to Luke 22:52, the crowd was made up of the chief priest and officers of the temple and elders. We know the slave of the high priest was also present. John 18:3 mentions a Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees.
It was likely that the chief priests and elders had gathered and dispatched this group with Judas to bring Jesus back while they remained assembled. The whole arrest may have taken less than an hour. This was the evening of the Passover meal so the streets were empty while every home had gatherings keeping the Passover vigil.
John 18:6 mentions that when Jesus said; “I am He”, the whole group drew back and fell to the ground. I see this as a clash between the kingdom of light and darkness. Heaven was making a statement. Had the curtains of the unseen realm been pulled back formable forces were undoubtedly gathered on both sides. There was no doubt who was in control. The mob was no match for the glory and authority of Jesus. I am sure the angel that strengthen Him in the Garden and many more were standing vigil with swords drawn awaiting His command. (See Luke 22:43)
As you let this scene sink into your mind, the next statement of Jesus makes sense; “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled.
Two things are clear at this point. First, Jesus voluntarily submitted to His plight. They were not forcing Him against His will. He was the one in control.
Second, many Old Testament prophecies were quickly being fulfilled. Jesus had direct influence on some of them, but the majority were done by others in the story without input from Him.
This point counters the critics who claim Jesus had merely read the prophecies and arranged their fulfillment to make Him look like the Messiah. To the contrary, Divine destiny was directing the cast and script. Jesus was merely connecting the prophetic dots as they unfolded around Him. The chief priests, scribes, elders of the people, Pharisees and Roman soldiers were blind to their role in the prophetic narrative.
Over 150 Old Testament prophecies converged in rapid succession during the last two weeks of the life, triumphant entry, cleansing the temple, last super, arrest, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When His birth and full public ministry are included, that number more than doubles. This fact is mind boggling. It is statistically impossible for random chance to arrange the fulfillment of this prophetic sequence.
Every reader of the Bible whether atheist, agnostic, humanist, spiritist, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist must wrestle with this phenomenon. No other tradition whether sacred or secular has anything that comes close to this prophetic phenomenon. It places Jesus Christ and the gospel in an exclusive category. This line of evidence alone related to the identity of Jesus Christ demands a verdict. Who is this man?
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global