“And coming out, he went, as was habit, to the Mount of Olives and the disciples also followed him there.”
“And Judas, the one delivering him over, knew the place, because Jesus would often be gathered together with his disciples there.”
“As was his habit.” What a wonderful picture of the prayer life of our Lord. Jesus would often excuse himself to a quiet and secluded place, taking the twelve with him, and pray. As we mentioned before, the disciples knew about this place, not because it was some sort of privileged hideaway like the glade in Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest, but because it was Jesus’ habit to come here. Yet, by the same token, it is this habit that informed Judas where Jesus would be so that the arrest could be made later in the night.
Of course, all of the events of the night are part of the Father’s plan from before the beginning of time, but I wonder, sometimes, on a more human level, as to whether our habits would be such that they would betray us in this way. Certainly, I suppose, we all have bad habits that our enemies might shame us for—and shame us rightly, but what about righteous habits? Daniel’s enemies knew of his habit of prayer and that habit was so regular and accessible that they were able to easily arrest him when he would not bow and pray to Darius (Daniel 6:10-11). Paul’s enemies knew that he was in the Temple purifying himself (Acts 21:26-30), remembering just how large the temple was and just how many people streamed in and out on a daily basis (it would be like trying to monitor who was going in and out of New York’s Grand Central Station). And, of course, Jesus’ enemies always knew where to find him when he healed on the Sabbath day or allowed his disciples to pick and eat a handful of grain when walking on the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-24).
So, I wonder whether our prayer life might get us in trouble were the laws different in America? If it were illegal to be a Christian, would anyone know to arrest us? If it were illegal to pray during daylight hours, would our enemies know when to burst into our homes as they did with Daniel? If it were illegal to carry a Bible anywhere but to church, would we stand guilty or would anyone notice? Our Lord and the saints of old were faithful to a point that such faithfulness could get them in trouble. Would that our faithfulness would also get us into trouble as well! Sadly, I think that all too often, we rob ourselves of the blessing of persecution by being way too cautious in our faith. It would have been easy, in human terms, to have said to his disciples, “we need to find a different place to pray tonight because Judas knows that he can find us here.” Yet, Jesus’ plan was to allow this arrest to take place and thus faithfully submitted to his Father’s will. May we be found guilty of the same faithfulness.
Blessed are you when they reproach you, persecute you, and say evil and lies of you because of me. Rejoice and Exalt! For your reward is great in heaven. For thus they persecuted the prophets who came before you.