Jerome Murphy-O’Connor makes much of the fact that Jesus could have seen those coming to arrest him making their way with torches from Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley towards the place where he was on the Mount of Olives. Had he wanted to, he could have headed the other way, stopped in Bethany to pick up provisions, and disappeared untraceable into the wilderness. Thus, Murphy-O’Connor concludes, Jesus must have willingly allowed himself to be arrested.
I found this argument quite plausible and even persuasive, until I recalled the detail in the Gospels that there were disciples who were supposed to keep watch, but fell asleep. This at the very least undermines the certainty Murphy-O’Connor felt it was possible to have about this matter.
Then we must consider the reaction of the disciples. At least one drew a sword and struck a member of the party that had come to apprehend Jesus, cutting off his ear. This incident has not been given adequate attention. Had this not occurred, might the treatment of Jesus by the high priest and Sanhedrin potentially have been different?
It is the asking of such questions that distinguishes a historical approach to the person of Jesus, and not the specific answers one gives to the questions.