47 While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” 49 And when those who were around him saw what would follow, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders, who had come out against him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” (Luke 22:47–53 ESV)
The crowds. Always coming to Jesus. Coming to hear him speak. Seeking an encounter with God — a word of forgiveness, a healing and resurrecting touch, the spectacle of God doing something incredible in the world.
Earlier this week, after Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem, we heard that “all the people were hanging on his words” and that he was surrounded by the people when the scribes and the chief priests tried to trap him in a discussion about taxes with a single dinar coin.
And right before Luke tells us of the plot to betray Jesus, he writes this:
37 And every day he was teaching in the temple, but at night he went out and lodged on the mount called Olivet. 38 And early in the morning all the people came to him in the temple to hear him. (Luke 21:37–38 ESV)
And now a crowd has come. To see him arrested. In the place where Jesus and his disciples spent the night.
His disciples want to fight — Jesus, after all, told them earlier that evening that the time was coming to prepare, to pack bags and buy a sword and get ready to flee — because they think the time has come. Right now. Here on the Mount of Olives.
But it hasn’t. Not yet. In one more miraculous act of healing, Jesus restores the ear of the injured servant.
And to Judas, to the crowds, he tells them — your hour, the power of darkness, has come.
Here we are, not ready for the darkness. The time has come for us to scatter. The mob is a fickle thing. It presses in and hangs on words and seeks the redeeming touch of God, it happily eats when bread and fish are miraculously provided, but it also gawks and eggs on and stands in mute wonder at spectacle. It wants a winner, and then it begs for blood and it demands death. And who are we to challenge the crowds when they show up in force with murder on their mind? What courage can we muster when we, the few (or the one), stand before the many?
Who are we when the hour or darkness has come? When darkness, in all its awful power, has descended upon us, wrapped us up tight, and won’t let go?