A Night That Will Lve In Infamy
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A NIGHT THAT WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
By, James L. Thornton
Mark 14: 41. “And he cometh the third time, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
42. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.”
A. It Was A Night Of Conspiracies
B. It Was A Night Of Courage
C. It Was A Night Of Compromises
D. It Was A Night Of Compassion
On December 8, 1941, President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, said the following words: “Yesterday, December 7, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” This speech was made on the heels of a surprise attack by Japanese forces on the United States Naval base in Hawaii. The attack by Japan, and the speech by Roosevelt, were the catalysts that forced America into World War II.
There have been many other infamous dates in human history. The word “infamous” means “to have a very bad reputation, shameful conduct, an evil deed.” Among the more infamous days in American history are these few:
October 29, 1929 – The stock market crash that led to the great depression.
November 22, 1963 – The assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, TX.
April 4, 1968 – The assassination of Martin Luther King in Memphis, TN.
January 22, 1973 – The day the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision on Roe v. Wade. This decision effectively legalized abortion, resulting in the deaths of millions of unborn human babies.
September 11, 2001 – The day radical Islamic terrorists declared war on the United States by flying occupied passenger jets into public, American landmarks.
These dates, along with many others, are indelibly printed on the American psyche.
Our text (Mark 14:41-42) tells us about the events of one infamous night that took place 2,000 years ago. The night Jesus was arrested, just prior to His crucifixion, was A Night That Will Live In Infamy. It was a night filled with such treachery, hatred and brutality, that it stands out as one of the most infamous dates in human history.
The events of that infamous night have something to teach us today. They have something to say about our Savior and they have something to say about the human condition.
I want to take the verses and talk about the events that took place that night. I want to talk about A Night That Will Live In Infamy. I want you to see that it was
A Night Of Conspiracies;
A Night Of Courage;
A Night Of Compromises; and
A Night Of Compassion.
Let’s consider these events together today.
A. IT WAS A NIGHT OF CONSPIRACIES:
When Jesus finishes praying to His Father, Mark 14:35-36, Jesus announces to His disciples that the time of His betrayal has arrived, Mark 14:41-42.
While the Lord was yet speaking, Judas appeared with a large group of soldiers. They are there to take Jesus into custody and they were led to His location by that traitor, Judas.
Let’s take a few moments to walk through verses Mark 14:43-46 and consider a few of the truths revealed in them.
We are told that the leader of the group is “Judas.” He is a man who has walked with Jesus in intimate fellowship for over three years. He is a man who has heard the Gospel of grace preached on many occasions. Yet, Judas has rejected that Gospel, just as he rejected the Lord Jesus Christ.
It seems clear that Judas was following Jesus for the gain he could get from it. He was stealing from the money bag that supported Jesus and His men, John 12:6. Judas probably believed, at first, that Jesus was going to overthrow Rome and establish a new kingdom in Israel. He probably followed Jesus hoping to get in on the action. He wanted to get rich.
When it became clear that Jesus would not establish a kingdom, and make His followers wealthy, Judas made a deal with the Lord’s enemies, the Jewish religious leaders, and sold Jesus to them for “thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:15). Judas conspired with the Lord’s enemies to betray Him, and since Judas knew where Jesus spent His time (John 18:2), Judas led them to where Jesus was.
Apparently, the Jews believed that Jesus would put up a fight. John 18:3 tells us that Judas came accompanied by a “band of men and officers.” A “band” of men refers to a Roman “cohort” which numbered some 600 men when at full strength.
Apparently, part of these men where Roman soldiers and part of them were members of the Temple police. Either way, when they came to get Jesus, they were armed to the teeth, (Mark 14:43). The Roman soldiers carried their Roman short swords, while the Temple police carried clubs. They came ready for action.
Judas is not alone in this conspiracy. His accomplishes are the Jewish Sanhedrin, v. 43 and the Roman government, John 18:3, 12.
When they arrived at Gethsemane, Jesus went out to meet them, John 18:4. He asked them for whom they were looking. They told Him and He readily identified Himself.
Even though Jesus told them Who He was, Judas still came to Him and kissed Him on the cheek. Kissing in that culture was a sign of respect and affection. This kind of kiss was a special form of homage and honor. Typically, a person would kiss the one he wanted to honor on the feet, the back of the hand, on the hem of his garment, or on the palm of the hand. Judas chose to embrace Jesus and kiss Him on His cheek, this kind of kiss showed the deepest love and affection. It was usually reserved for those with whom the person had a close, intimate relationship.
When Judas kissed the Lord, it was not just a peck on the cheek. The word “kissed” refers to “a series of kisses.” Judas kept on kissing the Lord. When Judas did this, the guards came and took Jesus captive and led Him away.
By the way, Jesus offered no resistance! He was exactly like Isaiah said He would be, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth,” (Isaiah 53:7).
The deeds Judas committed that night serve as a warning of the dangers of hypocrisy. Judas was as close to Jesus Christ as any man who ever lived. He heard the Gospel from the lips of “the Author and Finisher of our faith.” He witnessed love and grace in action every day. He saw and experienced the power of God like only a hand full of others has ever seen it.
He heard the truth. He saw the truth. He even acknowledged the truth, Matthew 27:4. Yet, Judas died and went to Hell because he failed to believe the truth. Judas literally kissed the gates of Heaven and died and went to Hell.
Don’t let that happen to you. Can it? Yes it can. Listen to the words of Jesus Christ Himself. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins,” John 8:24.
When you reach the end of your life, all the years of your existence will be condensed into one question: “What did you do with Jesus?” Nothing else will be important. Nothing else will matter. Nothing else will be considered. Jesus, and your relationship with Him, will determine whether you live forever in Heaven, or suffer eternal damnation in Hell, (1 John 5:12.)
B. IT WAS A NIGHT OF COURAGE:
As I read these verses, one of the thing that stands out to me is the courage of the Lord Jesus Christ. He goes out to meet the soldiers when they arrive, John 18:4. He confronts them about their mission, John 18:4. He readily identifies Himself to them, John 18:5. He does not resist them when they take Him into captivity, Mark 14:46.
Jesus even confronts the soldiers about their mission. He challenges their courage because they refused to arrest Him when He was readily available in the Temple day after day, Mark 14:48-49. Jesus Christ is no shrinking violet. He is not filled with fear.
He knows that He is in the perfect will of His Father, Mark 14:49.
He knows that everything He is about to face has been predetermined for Him by His Father.
Jesus knows what lies ahead of Him. He understands that His men will forsake Him, He knows the nation of Israel will reject Him. He knows about the violence that He is about to suffer. He knows they will beat Him, mock Him, spit on Him, beat Him with a cat-of-nine-tails, and He knows that they will crucify Him between two thieves. He knows all these thing, yet He faces them all with courage.
Why? He did it because He was committed to His Father’s will, John 4:34. Jesus completed that work on Calvary, John 19:30. He did because He loved you, Romans 5:8. He did it because it was the only hope we had for salvation, Hebrews 9:22. Jesus came into this world for this moment and He does not try to get out of it. His demeanor is one of absolute courage and strength.
I praise Him for His courage in the face of brutality, hatred, rejection, violence, pain and judgment. I praise Him that He had the fortitude and the will to face everything that came His way so that we might be saved.
C. IT WAS A NIGHT OF COMPROMISES:
When Jesus is arrested, every single disciple runs away in fear, Mark 14:50. One unnamed young man, whom many believe to be Mark 14:51-52, runs away, leaving his garment in the hands of the soldiers.
The disciples never thought this moment would come, Mark 14:31. They all believed in their hearts that they would stand with the Lord Jesus to the very end. They all really believed that they would die with Him and even for Him. Peter showed the most courage when he drew his sword in defense of the Lord, Mark 14:47.
Yet, when Jesus was arrested, and when He did not resist arrest, the disciples were shaken to the very core of their beliefs, and they all ran away. The word “forsook” means “to abandon someone or to leave them behind.” The word “fled” means “to seek safety by flight; to vanish.”
These men literally ran away and vanished into the night, they were convinced they would stand with Jesus, but when the hour of testing came, and they melted away into the shadows and left Jesus alone with His enemies.
Let’s not be too hard on these men. Let’s not boast about what we would do if we found ourselves in their situation. I would like to think that I would be faithful to Jesus, but you never know!
On April 20, 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School near Littleton, CO. They murdered 12 students and teachers that day and wounded 23 other people. Among their victims was a student named Cassie Bernall. Eric Harris found Cassie hiding under a computer table. He knelt down beside her and asked, “Do you believe in God?” When she said “Yes”, Harris killed her. What would you have done?
In the days of the old Soviet Union, soldiers enter a meeting place where Christians are meeting in secret, worshipping the Lord. The soldiers enter and yell, “If you are an unbeliever, leave now! If you are a believer, line up against the wall!” Most of the crowd leaves. A few faithful believers go to the wall and to their deaths, refusing to dishonor the Lord who bought them. What would you have done?
In the days of the Roman Emperor Nero, there was a band of elite guard known as the “Emperor’s Wrestlers.” These men had gained great success by wrestling in the Roman amphitheater and pledging their allegiance to Nero with these words, “We, the wrestlers, and wrestling for you, O Emperor; to win for you the victory and from you, the victor’s crown.”
When the Roman army fought in Gaul, no soldiers were braver or more loyal. But news reached Nero that many Roman soldiers had accepted the Christian faith. A decree was dispatched to the Roman Centurion Vespasian, which said “If there be any soldiers who cling to the Christian faith, they must die.”
The decree was received in the dead of winter while the soldiers were camped next to a frozen lake. With a sinking heart, Vespasian called his soldiers together and asked the question, “Do any of you cling to the faith of the Christians? If so, step forward!”
Instantly forty wrestlers stepped forward, saluted and stood at attention. Vespasian paused. He had not expected so many, nor such select soldiers. Trying to find a way out of his dilemma, Vespasian announced, “I shall await your answer at sundown.” Sundown came and again the question was asked. Again, forty wrestlers stepped forward.
Vespasian pleaded with them to deny their faith without success. Finally he said, “The decree of the Emperor must be obeyed, but I am not willing that your comrades should shed our blood. I am ordering you to march out upon that lake of ice, and I shall leave you to the mercy of the elements.”
The forty wrestlers were stripped and marched out on to the center of the frozen lake. As they marched they broke into the chant of the arena, “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for You, O Christ; to win for You the victory and from You, the victor’s crown.” Through the long hours of the night Vespasian stood by his campfire and listened to the wrestler’s chant as it grew fainter and fainter.
As morning drew near one wrestler, overcome by exposure, crept quietly toward the fire; and in the extremity of his suffering he renounced his Lord. Softly but clearly from the frozen lake came the chant, “Thirty-nine wrestlers, wrestling for You, O Christ; to win for You the victory and from You, the crown.”
The Centurion Vespasian looked at the wrestler drawing close to the fire. Off came his helmet and clothing, and Vespasian ran out onto the ice crying, “Forty wrestlers, wrestling for You, O Christ; to win for You the victory and from You, the crown!” What would you have done?
D. IT WAS A NIGHT OF COMPASSION:
Amidst all the tragedies and trials that presented themselves that night, the stainless character of the Lord Jesus Christ shone brightly. Even as He was betrayed by Judas, forsaken by His disciples and arrested by His enemies, Jesus Christ is the perfect picture of grace and love. Notice the ways His compassion in revealed in these verses.
The Lord Jesus Demonstrated Compassion to Judas Iscariot – Judas was a traitor! Judas sold Jesus for the price of a slave. Judas led a mob to arrest Jesus. Judas came to Jesus and actually betrayed Him with a kiss.
When Judas did this, the Lord Jesus did not react in anger. According to Matthew 26:50, Jesus said, “Friend, wherefore art thou come?” Jesus looked in the eyes of the man who was betraying Him to His death and Jesus called Him “friend.” It is a word that refers to a person’s “comrades,” his “partners,” his “good friends.” It is an expression of love and good will.
Jesus knows what Judas is doing. Jesus knows that Judas has rejected the Lord and the Gospel. Jesus knows that Judas is a lying, traitorous hypocrite. Jesus knows that Judas is headed to Hell. Yet, Jesus reaches out to Judas one more time.
This isn’t the first time Jesus tried to reach Judas. Jesus plainly told Judas that he knew he was a “devil,” John 6:70. That was an attempt to reach him! When Jesus told His men that one of their number would betray Him, Mark 14:18, that was an attempt to reach him. When Jesus handed Judas the sop during the Passover meal, it was another attempt to turn Judas from his evil plan, John 13:26.
Jesus was giving Judas every opportunity to repent! Judas refused to believe in Jesus and he died lost.
The Lord does the same for you. The very fact that you are alive and not in Hell today is proof of the Lord’s grace in your life. He is giving you another opportunity to repent. Every time you hear a Gospel sermon, God is reaching out to you. Every time you rub shoulders with a Christian, God is reaching out to you. Every time you draw a breath, God is reaching out to you.
He does it because he does not want you to go to Hell. He does it so that you will come to Him for salvation. He does it because He loves you. Do not waste those opportunities! Come to Jesus while you can. The day will come when the Lord will stop calling and He will abandon you to your choice, Genesis 6:3; Isaiah 55:6. He will let you go to Hell, if that is what you choose.
The Lord Jesus Demonstrated Compassion To A Man Named Malchus. When the soldiers arrested Jesus, one of the disciples reacts by attacking the servant of the High Priest with his sword Mark 14:47, John tells us that the impetuous disciples was Peter and that the servant was named Malchus, John 18:10. When Peter cut of the ear of Malchus, Jesus responded by reaching out in compassion to heal the servant’s ear, Luke 22:51.
Malchus was probably sent with the mob to serve as a witness to the arrest of Jesus. He was probably there so that he could go back to his master and give him a full report of all the details concerning the arrest of the Lord Jesus. Malchus was one of the enemy, yet Jesus touched him and healed him.
I have often thought about Malchus. I have often wondered if he ever got saved. We have no record that he did. Think about this for a minute. Malchus was close enough to Jesus to see His face, to hear His voice, to feel His touch, and to experience His love and compassion. He was close to Jesus as anyone could be, yet he was lost.
There are people like that reading this today. You have heard the Gospel. You have been in the presence of the Lord. Perhaps you have even heard His voice and felt His touch. What a tragedy it would be to die without ever truly knowing Him. That will be the case with many. There are many who have been near the things of God, but who have never been saved, Matthew 7:21-23. Don’t let that be true of you. Come to Jesus and be saved today.
The Lord Jesus Demonstrated Compassion toward the Soldiers. When the soldiers arrived at Gethsemane, Jesus went out to meet them. He asked them, “Whom seek ye?” they responded, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” Literally, He said, “I AM”! It was a declaration of His identity as God Almighty. When Jesus declared His covenant name, the soldiers fell to the ground before Him, John 18:4-5.
Jesus could have destroyed them with His Word alone, but He didn’t. He gave them a demonstration of His power because He was trying to reach them too. They rejected His attempt to reach them and they followed their intended course.
Every lost person in the world is confronted by a demonstration of the greatness and glory of God, Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:18-22. Every breath of air, every drink of water, every heartbeat, every sunrise and sunset, every bite of food, every day when they awake from sleep, every moment of every day is His grace and compassion on display. All the things I mentioned and countless others are a call from God to the sinner to turn to Him for salvation.
Every time air fills your lungs, God is saying, “Come to me and be saved.” Every heartbeat is God’s call for you to repent. Every sunrise is God reminding you that there is a Heaven. Every sunset tells you there is a Hell. Every blessing speaks of His love. Every valley is a commentary on His grace.
Do not deny the call of the Lord! Come to Him while there is time. Come to Him while there is hope. Come to Him while He calls. Come to Him today.
The Lord Jesus Demonstrated Compassion toward Peter, The Rest Of The Disciples And To The Church – When Peter cut off the ear of Malchus, Peter was acting in the flesh. He had boasted that he was ready to die with Jesus and proves his determination by his willingness to fight the soldiers.
Had Jesus not intervened, Pater would have died that night. The Lord, in compassion to Peter and the other disciples healed Malchus. When He did, Peter and the other disciples were spared.
Do you realize how close the church came to dying before it was ever born? If the soldiers had attacked the disciples that night, the very men who were to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth would have died right there. Had that happened, there would have been no sermon from Peter on Pentecost. There would have been no book of Acts. The Gospel would never have been carried into Europe by Paul. The message would never have reached America and we would never have been saved.
By one impetuous, fleshly motivated act Peter nearly destroyed the church. Jesus demonstrated compassion because Peter was spared, along with the rest of the disciples. Because they were spared, they were available to give voice to the Gospel message. Because they were spared, the Gospel came to us one day. Because they were spared, I have a message to preach to you today.
The events of that infamous evening still reverberate down the corridors of time. Greatest among all the events of that evening was our Lord’s determination to endure whatever came His way so that He might “give His life a ransom for many,” Mark 10:45.
Our Savior gave His all so that you might be given life. What have you given Him in return?
Have you given Him faith? Have you received Jesus into your heart and life? Have you believed the Gospel? Are you saved?
Have you given Him worship, praise and love for everything He endured for you? How long has it been since you really thanked and praised Him for Who He is and what He has done for you?
Have you turned you back on the world and all its pleasures so that you might live for Him?
Has He spoken to your heart today? What is He telling you to do? Will you obey Him, or will you leave this place unchanged? If I were you, I would do what He is telling you to do. “Repent and be baptized in his name and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost today.”
By, James L. Thornton