John 18

Introduction

In John’s Gospel, he selectivity omits Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane, Matthew 26:36-46, Judas’ betrayal kiss, Luke 22:47-48, reference to ‘twelve legions of angels’, Matthew 26:53 etc. John isn’t giving a full account, but as much as is necessary for his purpose, John 20:30-31 / John 21:25. Also, the Gospels have been in circulation for a long time, and so, when John writes his account, the narrative is well-known.

A full narrative of all that happened in Gethsemane would require a careful study of Matthew 26:36-56 / Mark 14:32-51 / Luke 22:39-53 / John 18:1-12. John makes it clear that, despite the arrest, Jesus is completely in control of the situation. What His enemies do is by permission, His death is a voluntary sacrifice, John 10:17-18.

‘When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side, there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.’ John 18:1

THE KIDRON VALLEY

The Kidron valley east of Jerusalem, separating the Mount of Olives from the Temple Mount, this was the route taken by David when he fled from the city because of Absalom, 2 Samuel 15:23 and it has a significant place in the history of the nation, in 1 Kings 15:13.

It’s where Asa burned the ‘abominable image’, in 2 Kings 23:4ff it’s where Josiah burned the idolatrous vessels out of the temple, in 2 Chronicles 29:16ff it’s where it involved in the cleansing of the temple by Hezekiah.

From the altar of sacrifice in the temple, there was a channel down to the brook Kidron, and through that channel, the blood of the lambs drained away. When Jesus crossed the brook Kidron it would still be red with the blood of the lambs which had been sacrificed.

The ‘valley’, ‘cheimorrhos’, literally means, ‘winter-flowing’, a stream which flowed only in winter or after heavy rain. A ‘garden’, ‘Gethsemane’ means ‘oil press’, Luke 22:39. It was a private garden, Mark 14:32. The ‘Place’, ‘chorion’, John 18:2 was an enclosed piece of ground, so the owner must have given permission for Jesus and the disciples to use it.

The owner was probably a friend of Jesus as Jesus often went there, John 8:2. This probably means that Jesus and His disciples used to shelter there, sleeping in the open air, and probably in this very garden, Luke 21:37.

THE GARDEN

Located on the slopes of Mount of Olives, precise location unknown, the present ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ is very old, and the original garden must have been close by, but nobody can say with certainty exactly where. It seems as if the disciples and Jesus had stopped for Jesus’ prayer somewhere in Jerusalem, John 17.

Now that the prayer was completed, they continue to the edge of the city, out one of the gates on the Western side of the city and towards the Kidron valley which runs to the West of the city along the length of the temple.

They crossed the valley and entered the garden of Gethsemane which was on the Mount of Olives, this Mount was so-called because of the olives grown on it. Some of these olive trees still exist today, and they are believed to be the same as those mentioned in Jesus’ time. It seems that Jesus slept here on the Mount of Olives each night of the last week of His life.

‘Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So, Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.’ John 18:2-3

We see that this was a commonplace for Jesus and the disciples to go for prayer and meditation, as a result, Judas the traitor knew where to find Jesus, John 18:2, and it was common for them to go there after the evening meal. Judas brought an entire detachment of soldiers with him to capture Jesus, John 18:3.

The word ‘detachment’, John 18:3, of soldiers is ‘speira’, and was the term used for a Roman Cohort, a body of 600 men. Sometimes used to describe a group of 200 soldiers. It’s impossible to say how many on this occasion, but it’s certainly used for a large number, Matthew 26:47 / Mark 14:43 / Luke 27:47.

‘Their officers’, ‘chiliarchos’, John 18:3, were the Roman commander of a cohort, and the temple guard were carrying ‘lanterns and torches’, John 18:3, perhaps expecting that Jesus and disciples would hide, Luke 22:52. The chief priests and elders were also present.

The torches were sticks tied together, wrapped in cloth, dipped in pitch or oil, the lantern was an open dish or oil lamp. This seems likely because of their reaction when Jesus uses the term ‘I AM’, John 18:5.

The chief priests had no jurisdiction over Roman soldiers and would need Pilate’s permission to use them. He later doesn’t seem keen on the whole event, so it isn’t likely that he would give his permission to use his men to capture Jesus.

Why did they need Judas? The religious leaders didn’t need Judas to recognise Jesus. They didn’t need Judas to find out where Jesus was. Three times in the Gospel of John they sent guards to arrest Jesus and all three times the guards couldn’t do it.

I think they were beginning to fear that Jesus was unarrestable. And they said, ‘we need someone on the inside, some that can catch Him when His guard is down, someone that won’t surprise Him so that we can get Him before He knows what’s going on.’ And Judas said, ‘I’m your man.’ Matthew 26:14-16.

John doesn’t mention the betrayal kiss of Judas but Matthew, Matthew 26:48 and Luke, Luke 22:47-48, do. Under normal circumstances, the kiss was a brotherly kiss of affection, but it seems like Judas had other plans.

His kiss was more like a kiss of betrayal, his kiss signalled to the mob who Jesus was, Matthew 26:48, remember the religious leaders who were in attendance knew exactly who Jesus was, as they had many dealings with Him up to this point.

This shows us the extent Satan had been working on His heart, he even had the audacity to greet Jesus first. When Jesus asked him the question about betraying the Son of man with a kiss, Luke 22:47-48, this tells us that Jesus knew Judas’s motives. I’m sure Judas once again would have been taken back by Jesus’ question.

Remember these are the final days of Jesus and He was well aware of everything which was about to happen, Revelation 13:8, and Judas coming to Him was no surprise either, Psalm 41:9 / Matthew 20:18 / Luke 9:44 / Acts 1:16-17.

‘Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘I am he,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground. Again, he asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’ ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they said. Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.’ John 18:4-8

Here it’s confirmed that Jesus was well aware of His eventual destination, He knew that His time had now come but still He asked, ‘Who is it you want?’ John 18:4.

They specify Jesus, and so allowing the others to go unharmed when they ask for Jesus, He replies ‘I am he’, this is the old statement used as a reference to God. Jesus knew everything that was about to happen, John 2:24 / John 5:6 / John 6:64 / John 13:1 / John 13:3.

Notice that when they were confronted by Jesus, ‘they drew back and fell to the ground’, why? Notice it was when Jesus said, ‘I am he’ that they ‘drew back and fell to the ground.’

The word ‘he’ is merely supplied in the text, Jesus said ‘Ego Eimi’, ‘I AM,’ John 8:58 / Exodus 3:14. The expression ‘Ego Eimi’ also occurs in John 6:20 / John 8:24 / John 8:28 / John 13:13. The arresting officers fall back at this bold answer and needed to be asked again who they sought before they managed to get a hold of themselves again, John 18:6.

Just as a side note I remember studying with the Jehovah’s Witnesses and brought this text to their attention, at first they said, ‘oh you guys are always making a big deal out of the ‘I AM’ statements’ and then they went on to explain that everyone present ‘drew back and fell to the ground’, simply because Jesus openly admitted that He was Jesus and everyone was surprised when He did! Really!

Imagine 200-600 Roman soldiers and all the religious leaders, armed with torches, lanterns, clubs and swords and who knows what else, coming to Jesus and Jesus asks, ‘who are you looking for?’ and they reply, ‘Jesus of Nazareth’.

Imagine, Jesus replies, ‘Yep, I’m your man’, and because He said, He is the one they are looking for, 200-600 soldiers and everyone else in their company, not only ‘drew back’ but they also ‘fell to the ground.’

That simply doesn’t make any sense unless there was something about the words Jesus used. The ‘I AM’ statements are a big deal, but they fail to see the significance of them because if they did, they wouldn’t come out with such dribble to explain passages like this.

‘I AM’

John never uses the word miracle in his gospel but he does use the word sign regularly. There are 16 signs recorded in John’s gospel, 8 are things which Jesus did and 8 were things which Jesus said.

John is basically saying that the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus are signs, selected from many other signs. And he says these signs are selected with a purpose in mind and that purpose is that you believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be, John 20:30-31.

There are eight ‘I AM’ claims made by Jesus, John 6:35 / John 8:12 / John 8:58 / John 10:9 / John 10:11 / John 11:25 / John 14:6 / John 15:1. Here in John 18:5-6, we find two of them which are often overlooked or missed.

Each of His ‘I AM’ claims are claims that He is God, EGO EIMI, is he Greek equivalent of YHWH, Exodus 3:13-14. He is Eternal, Psalm 135:13, and self-existent, Psalm 88:6-7.

The Jews understood perfectly well what was alluded to by the term ‘I AM’ used by Jesus, Leviticus 24:16 / John 5:18.

After declaring to the mob that He is the ‘I AM’, Jesus pleads for His disciples to be released, John 18:8-9. This was to fulfil a prophecy He previously made which prevented any from being captured with Him, John 6:39.

THE EAR

‘Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’ John 18:10-11

Peter’s reaction isn’t surprising, He was always the impulsive one, who often said things without thinking first, John 13:37 / Matthew 26:33. Here he draws his sword and cuts off the ear of Malchus who was the high priest’s servant.

The fact that Peter is carrying a sword, possibly for protection, tells me that maybe He still didn’t understand the nature of God’s kingdom. He was still thinking in terms of a physical kingdom.

Jesus said to him to ‘put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword,’ Matthew 26:52. We know that Jesus never wanted or never intended physical force to establish His kingdom, John 18:36 / Revelation 13:10. He reminds Peter if he’s going to fight with a sword, then he will certainly die by the sword, Romans 13:4.

The cup which Jesus refers to is the cup of agony, Matthew 26:39. Before Jesus restores Malchus’ ear, Jesus rebukes Peter again, Luke 22:51. This isn’t the first time he has rebuked him, Mark 8:33, and it certainly won’t be the last time he’s rebuked, Galatians 2:11-21.

We must wonder what those who were present were thinking when Jesus restored Malchus’ ear back to normal. Surely after Jesus claimed to be the ‘I AM’, and then performed this ‘sign’, John 20:30-31, those present would have noticed what He just did!

I often wonder if Malchus himself ever went on to believe that Jesus was indeed, the Christ, the Son of God? If no one else believed within the mob, who Christ was on that day, I’m sure Malchus would have believed and who knows maybe later He came to become a Christian. At the very least, it was certainly one of those moments, in his life, that he would never forget.

‘Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’ Matthew 26:53-54

In Matthew’s account we are told that Jesus had twelve legions of angels at His disposal and this had to happen to fulfil Scripture, Matthew 26:53-54.

Twelve legions of angels are estimated to be around 36,000 angels, but notice Jesus says He has ‘more than’ that number at His disposal. Remember one angel wiped out 185,000 of God’s enemies in one moment, 2 Kings 19:35, how much more would these many angels, affect those who were present?

Jesus could have called numerous angels to rescue Him, but He knew by doing that, wouldn’t fulfil Scripture, Isaiah 50:6 / Isaiah 53:2-11. Jesus is saying that He must die but He is also saying all these things must happen to fulfil prophecy, Matthew 18:7 / John 10:35 / 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

It’s clear that Peter, still thinking in human terms and thought Jesus needed help but little did he know how much help Jesus had at His call.

If it wasn’t for the love of Christ for mankind, He could have easily brought all this to an end, but He wasn’t about to play into the devil’s hands, He wasn’t about to blow His whole mission this close to the end, John 10:17-18.

The officials now arrest Jesus and bound Him, John 18:12. Because Luke mentions that the mob had swords and clubs, Luke 22:52-53, this tells us that both Roman soldiers and the temple police were present to arrest Jesus.

Luke is the only account which tells us the chief priests were present too. You have to wonder, how many people does it take to arrest one man?

Matthew tells us that Christ knew the Scriptures, He knew moment by moment they were to be fulfilled, Matthew 26:56. Why the disciples deserted Jesus and fled is uncertain, probably because they were afraid, John 20:19, and didn’t want to be arrested along with Jesus.

We know that Peter and John stayed kind of close to Jesus during His trial, John 18:15, but we don’t know why the others fled. One thing to notice is that Matthew includes himself as one of those deserting and fleeing from the scene.

Jesus tells them they’ve had ample opportunity over the past three and half years to arrest Him, but they didn’t. ‘Now was the hour when darkness reigns’ He says in Luke 22:53, because it was God’s timetable they were working under, not theirs. It was now time to carry out the death sentence on Jesus.

Satan has been working through these people because He wanted Jesus out of the picture, little did he know that the cross was a part of God’s plan from the beginning, Genesis 3:15 / Romans 8:28. He had no idea what God’s plan was, he had no idea that he was actually putting God’s plan into effect, 1 Peter 1:10-12 / Acts 2:23.

What date was Jesus arrested? Coffman suggests that we should note that if Jesus was arrested on the night of Passover, as some suggest then none of the chief priests or the temple guards, would have been permitted to carry weapons after sundown of Nisan 14th. And so, this must have happened the night before, on Nisan 13th, technically the 14th, that Jesus was arrested. If it had been Nisan 14th after sundown, it would have been technically Nisan 15th, the night of the Passover meal, Luke 22:2.

Jesus didn’t try and run away, He surrenders Himself to the authorities and no attempt is made to capture the disciples, John 18:12.

The commander was usually in charge of a thousand men, but on this occasion, he doesn’t have a thousand men with him, but John simply tells us about him to help us understand that he was a man of high ranking, John 18:12.

John also tells us that the Jewish officials were involved in the arrest of Jesus, John 18:12, once again Jesus’ earlier words are about to come to pass, Matthew 20:19.

As Jesus made no attempt in any shape or form to run away, He told His disciples not to fight, He healed Malchus’ ear and voluntarily handed Himself over to them. I don’t believe there was any need to bind Him, John 18:12, but such is the nature of Satan and the people he was using to rid the world of Jesus.

There was no escaping for Jesus, but Jesus had no intention of even trying to escape, He only had one thing on His mind, to lovingly fulfil the will of His Father, Luke 22:42.

Jesus was in full control of everything which was happening around Him and He has always been in control of everything going on around Him and will continue to be in control of everything, even to His resurrection and beyond.

As Christians, it’s so important to remember, that as long as we remain under His control, He will protect us, John 10:28-29, from harm. We must also remember that it’s so easy to abandon Him, especially when people criticise us for being Christians and abuse us for the faith we hold onto so dearly, 1 Timothy 6:12.

‘They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.” John 18:12-14

Jesus was on trial by the Jews. So, Jesus was first taken before the powerful Annas, the ex-high priest and the power behind the current one, John 18:12-13.

John 18:14, reminds us of the important prophecy made by the current high priest, John 11:49-51, which he had said without realising the truth behind his statement. Perhaps he is also underlining the fact that with two such scoundrels involved, Jesus had no hope of a fair trial.

While Jesus is on trial, we find Peter is about to deny Jesus three times just as Jesus said he would, Matthew 26:33-35 / Mark 14:29-31 / John 13:37-38.

PETER’S FIRST DENIAL

‘Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. ‘You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?’ she asked Peter. He replied, ‘I am not.’ It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.’ John 18:15-18

Here we read about Peter’s first denial, but who is the ‘other disciple’ mentioned in John 18:15? Traditionally this has been accepted as John himself, this would be consistent with John’s habit of not naming himself, John 1:40 / John 13:23-25 / John 19:26 / John 20:2-8 / John 21:20-24. Also, Peter and John appear to have been constant companions, Luke 22:8 / Acts 3:1 / Acts 4:13 / Acts 8:14.

This unnamed disciple ‘was known to the high priest’, John 18:15, which means he was well enough known for the servant girl to admit him. Peter and it appears John follow the group including the Lord to the house of the high priest, it’s most likely that Annas and Caiaphas lived at the same address. John is known at the gate and allowed into the court-yard and seeks permission for Peter to come in also.

Notice John mentions ‘the court of the high priest’. When we compare this with Matthew 26:57-58, and with John 18:13 / John 18:15 / John 18:24, it suggests that the same court or courtyard is in view in each case.

Annas probably lived in a part of the official palace of his son in law. The sending of Jesus to Caiaphas would be merely sending him across the courtyard.

The girl at the gate sees Peter and recognises him as one of Jesus’ followers, she asks him about this and Peter makes that first terrible denial but Peter and John both enter. John 18:17-18.

Peter and John find a fire with people around and go to it to keep warm, John 18:18. It appears as if the other disciples had fled back to ‘his own’, in accordance with Jesus’ prophecy of John 16:32.

In John 18:17 we see the question asked by the maid is phrased to anticipate a negative answer, ‘you aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?’

Remember that ‘other disciple’ was known to be one of Jesus’ followers, he had openly entered along with Jesus, John 18:15. How easily Peter fell! Questioned by a maid, ‘paidiske’, girl, he said, ‘I am not,’ John 18:17 / Luke 26:69-70.

The other disciple was apparently in no danger, why didn’t Peter own up? Perhaps he was taken by surprise when a mere girl challenged him.

Maybe he was afraid he would be recognized as the one who wounded Malchus, we know that nearby is the ‘officers,’ John 18:18, who had been involved in the arrest of Jesus, John 18:13-14. A few hours ago, he had said he would die for Jesus, John 13:37, but now, a frightened man, he denies his Master.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

“Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.’ John 18:19-24

As Peter is denying the Lord, the Lord is making his first defence, Matthew 26:59-68 / Mark 14:55-65 / Luke 22:63-71. He is being questioned by the high priest, either Annas or Caiaphas, about His teaching and His apostles, John 18:19.

It may have been that the authorities wanted the apostles as well to make sure that this sect was completely crushed, this would further explain Peter’s denials.

His wasn’t a judicial trial, rather a preliminary investigation, it would be in character for Annas to try to pin something on Jesus. Jesus is questioned ‘about His disciples and His teaching’, John 18:19, surely the questioner was well informed about both!

In John 18:19-21, we see Jesus’ answer shows that the high priest’s questions were evilly motivated. What Jesus means is that He didn’t have two kinds of teaching, a harmless one for the general public and a very different one for the secret revolutionaries. The essence of His teaching was public property.

Jesus defends Himself by explaining the openness of all His actions, never did He hide behind someone or conspire in a closed room, His entire statement had been in the open, for all to hear, John 18:19-20. Because of this answer, one of the officials struck Jesus, who then seeks the reason why He was struck, John 18:22.

Annas was acting illegally because Jewish law required that evidence be heard from witnesses and that their testimony is shown to be in agreement, then a prisoner might be cross-examined.

The official who slapped Jesus was a member of the temple guard and so in John 18:23, Jesus says, ‘testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?’

In other words, Jesus is saying, ‘if I have said anything wrong, let it be revealed by proper legal procedures. If not, why hit me?’

And so, Jesus was bound, John 18:24. Jewish custom was for a prisoner’s hands to be tied behind his back, after being bound Jesus is sent by Annas to Caiaphas as, the official high priest, John 18:24.

The preliminary hearing before Annas has allowed the Sanhedrin time to assemble. Jesus is sent to Caiaphas’s quarters where the entire council of the Sanhedrin had gathered to seek a cause to have Jesus put to death.

This was for the official ‘trial’ narrated by the Gospels, Matthew 26:57-67 / Mark 14:53-65. If Annas and Caiaphas lived in the same palace, and the Sanhedrin met there for this ‘trial’, then John 18:24 would merely involve Jesus being led across a courtyard.

PETER’S SECOND AND THIRD DENIAL

‘Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So, they asked him, ‘You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?’ He denied it, saying, ‘I am not.’ One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, ‘Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?’ Again, Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.’ John 18:25-27

In John 18:25-27 we see Peter’s second and third denial. It’s difficult to harmonise the accounts of the denials in the Gospels with that of John. This was during Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas, John 18:24-28.

Matthew and Mark relate that before this Peter had gone out to the ‘porch’ or ‘gateway’, Matthew 26:71 / Mark 14:68. Perhaps, deeply ashamed by his first denial, he wanted to slip away unseen, but was unable to escape unobserved.

Matthew and Mark both tell of his being accosted in the porch by a ‘maid’. Accused of having been with Jesus, ‘he denied it with an oath’, Matthew 26:71-72 / Mark 14:69-70.

Peter ‘was standing and warming himself’ at a charcoal fire, John 18:18. This charcoal only mentioned only by John would provide much heat but little light. And he is challenged by bystanders but denies being one of Jesus’ disciples, John 18:25.

Then he is challenged by a slave of the high priest, who is also a relative of Malchus, and he denies being with Jesus in the garden, John 18:26.

The other Gospels tell what was said both to and about Peter regarding his speech, Matthew 26:71-73 / Mark 14:70 / Luke 22:59.

So, we see he was twice challenged about his presence with the Lord. First by a slave girl, one of the most unimportant persons imaginable, her question expected a negative answer and Peter takes the easy way out. Next, by a relative of the servant whose ear Peter had cut off.

Peter again denied any link with Jesus, as he concluded his statement, the crowing began, John 18:27. John’s account is more discreet than the other Gospels, he merely states, ‘Peter again denied it; and at once the cock crowed’.

ALLEGED CONTRADICTION

Notice that Matthew, Matthew 26:34, and John, John 13:38, both say that, ‘before the rooster crows’, Peter will have denied the Lord three times.

And now notice that Mark, Mark 14:30, says that ‘before the rooster crows ‘twice’, Peter will deny Christ three times. Although some see this as a contradiction, when we actually take a moment to slowly read the text itself, we will soon realise there’s no contradiction.

Notice how Matthew, Matthew 26:34, and John,  John 13:38, don’t expressly state how many times the rooster will crow. They both simply say that Peter will deny Jesus three times, ‘before the rooster crows’, but they don’t tell us how many times it will crow. I believe it’s reasonable to accept that Mark is being a little more specific in terms of how many times the rooster will actually crow.

In fact, if you look at the word, ‘twice’ in Mark 14:10, and Mark 14:72, you will notice that it has a footnote, which tells us that ‘some early manuscripts do not have ‘twice’.

In other words, it’s possible that different accounts are due to an early copyist error in Mark, that resulted in the insertion of the word, ‘twice’ in early manuscripts.

Luke records in his account that at this moment Jesus was outside, probably on his way from Annas’ quarters to Caiaphas’s and he looked straight at Peter, who broke down and cried, Luke 22:61-62 / Matthew 26:74-75 / Mark 14:71-72. We are not told in what way Jesus looked at Him, I personally don’t believe it was a look of ‘I told you so’.

We can’t help but sympathise with Peter at this point, as he saw Jesus and then remembered what He prophesied about his denying Him three times. He literally was sobbing his heart out.

This was probably one of the lowest points in Peter’s life and it was an event he wasn’t going to forget for the rest of his life. It’s interesting that things seem to happen in threes for Peter from this point on, John 21:15-17 / Acts 10:9-16 / Acts 10:17-19.

What Peter was demonstrating here was genuine godly sorrow, which was the opposite of what Judas was demonstrating, as he went on to hang himself, Matthew 27:5 / 2 Corinthians 7:10.

If we learn anything from Peter, we should learn that he didn’t allow this occasion to affect the rest of his life, he went on to become a powerful apostle for the Lord and became bolder when he spoke more openly about the Christ, Acts 2.

As Christians we too will make many mistakes, some out of fear of being persecuted but we must learn to draw a line under those occasions and move on.

Jesus Before Pilate

‘Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So, Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. This took place to fulfil what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.’ John 18:28-40

Here we find Jesus on trial before Pilate and again notice John’s selectivity, he doesn’t mention Jesus being sent to Herod Antipas, Luke 23:6-12, or the message received by Pilate from his wife, Matthew 27:19.

Pilate is abruptly introduced into the narrative, without any personal details, which suggests that he was well-known to John’s readers.

Note the governor’s movement in and out of the Praetorium.

1. Outside, John 18:28-32.

2. Inside, John 18:33-37.

3. Outside, John 18:38-40.

4. Inside, John 19:1-3.

5. Outside, John 19:4-7.

6. Inside, John 19:8-11.

7. Outside, John 19:12-16.

‘The Praetorium’ was the Roman governor’s official residence when in Jerusalem which could be one of two locations.

1. The palace of Herod on the western side of the city or

2. The castle of Antonia, which housed the Roman garrison and overlooked the temple.

If the ‘luthostratos’ pavement, John 19:13, in the church of the Flagellation is authentic, it would be the latter.

Notice ‘it was early morning’, John 18:28, technically the fourth watch, 3 a.m. to 6 a.m., Mark 13:35. John’s account makes it clear that the Jewish authorities were in a great hurry which tells us that Jesus was never legally tried before the Jewish authorities.

The whole proceedings being carried through with indecent haste in order that the execution might be over and the body removed, John 19:31, before the beginning of the Passover day at 6 pm.

Notice the reason the religious rulers didn’t enter Praetorium, ‘to avoid ceremonial uncleanness’ etc., John 18:28. A religious Jew wouldn’t enter the house of a Gentile, Acts 10:38 / Acts 11:3.

Notice also the hypocrisy which shows they were determined to have an innocent man killed, John 18:29-30, they were prepared to lie to achieve their purpose, Luke 23:2.

They were even willing to bribe false witnesses, Matthew 26:59. They didn’t regard that as defilement but to enter the Praetorium would be defilement.

The trial before the entire Sanhedrin is not recorded by John as the trial alone before Annas isn’t recorded in the Gospels. The next we hear of Jesus He was on his way to Pilate having been found guilty of blasphemy by the Sanhedrin.

They wanted to put Jesus to death in accordance with Leviticus 24:16, which demands death for the blasphemer, but as they were under Roman Law, they couldn’t do it without Pilate’s permission.

Pilate was made procurator in 26 A.D. He established himself in Caesarea, a Roman city on the Mediterranean coast. He was extremely harsh in his day to day dealings, on one occasion he set up Roman standards in the temple causing a riot, within 6 days they were removed, perhaps this is why he seems now to be more tolerant of Jewish ways.

He had the power of life and death over his subjects, he had about 120 cavalries and over 5000 infantries, yet he himself was still subject to Caesar.

Pilate questions Jesus about His claims but under Roman Law, there were no grounds to have Him executed, John 18:31. Pilate wasn’t a Jew and had little understanding or sympathy for Jewish Law. He had the power of life and death over the people, but he would be reluctant to do anything that would disturb the peace, he didn’t want a riot on his hands.

We see in John 18:31-32 that he says, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him’ etc., the word, ‘yourselves’ is emphatic, if the prisoner couldn’t be charged with crimes against Roman law, then it wasn’t for Pilate to decide.

Their reply reveals their desire, not that Jesus shall be fairly tried, merely that he be killed, ‘it’s not lawful for us to put any man to death’, John 18:31-32.

Jesus had predicted that He would die by crucifixion, John 3:14 / John 12:32 / Matthew 20:19. If the Jews had executed Him it would have been by stoning, the Law’s penalty for blasphemy, but He was to be executed by being crucified, a method never used by the Jews.

Most likely the chief priests wanted Jesus to be put to death by the Romans because of the implications for Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God, Galatians 3:13, ‘Curse. Curse. Cursed.’ Deuteronomy 21:23

In John 18:33-40, we see Jesus being examined by Pilate. The omission suggests that John assumes the reader’s familiarity with the Gospels. Luke 32:2, tells that the Sanhedrin had made a specific accusation against Jesus. They charged Him with sedition, rebellion and treason.

Again, we see their hypocrisy, that was the kind of Messiah they wanted, one who would throw off the Roman yoke. They lied about Jesus because they were determined to kill Him, John 11:53. Matthew 27:18 states that Pilate knew they were motivated by ‘envy’.

Notice the words, ‘You, ‘emphasis’, you are the King of the Jews?’, John 18:33. All four Gospels record that this was the charge on which the Sanhedrin asked for Jesus to be condemned, Mark 15:1-2 / Matthew 27:19 / Luke 23-2-3.

Pilate’s question couldn’t be answered by a simple yes or no. In the political sense, as Pilate would use the term, he wasn’t king and in the spiritual sense, as Jesus used the term, He was king.

Pilate must have expected a political revolutionary, a self-styled ‘king’ who posed a threat to the rule of Rome. Jesus was the King of Israel, John 1:49 / John 12:13, but His kingdom was spiritual.

In John 18:35, Pilate is basically saying, ‘I am not a Jew, am I?’ As if to say, ‘I am not interested in your theocratic subtleties.’ The governor is impatient and says, ‘your own nation and the chief priests (Sanhedrin) have handed you over to me; what have you done?’

What had caused the Jews, who might have been expected to support their ‘king’ to demand his death? He must be guilty of some serious crime, what is it? John 18:35.

Jesus admits that He is a king, ‘My Kingdom’, ‘basileia’, means sovereignty, royal power, dominion. Jesus asserts the spiritual nature of His reign, ‘My ‘basileia’ is not of this world, not from the world.’ John 18:36.

It’s not worldly in worldly means, ‘My kingdom doesn’t belong to this world. If it did, my followers would be fighting to save me from arrest by the Jews’.

In the garden, He had forbidden His followers to fight, even to save Him, John 18:10-11 / Matthew 26:51-52 / Matthew 5:43-48 / Romans 12:17-21 / Ephesians 6:10-17.

In John 18:37-38, we find an ironic question, ‘You are a king then. You!’ Obviously, Jesus wasn’t a leader of the sedition, just as obviously, He claimed to be King of the Jews, what did he mean?

Jesus’ answer is ‘You say it ‘You speak correctly’ for I am a King, certainly I am the King!’ ‘This is why I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the Truth, ‘who is a friend of the truth, who belongs to the truth’ hears and listens to my voice.’

The word, ‘truth’, ‘alethea,’ means reality, that which is genuine as opposed to that which is false, John 14:6. We don’t know what Pilate’s attitude was, John merely records the fact.

We do know that the governor was convinced that Jesus was no threat to the state, he said, ‘I find no crime in him,’ John 18:38. He was to say this, three times, John 19:4 / John 19:6.

If the governor’s sole consideration had been justice that would have been the end of the matter but he was influenced by considerations of political expediency and personal safety. One who is ‘of the truth,’ John 18:37, will put it before every other consideration, Proverbs 23:23.

Pilate wasn’t ‘of the truth’, Luke 8:15. He reappears before what was now a mob and offers Jesus as the one to be set free as was the tradition at that time of the year. The mob rejected Jesus in favour of Barabbas a criminal. Matthew 27:19-21 tells us of the message from Pilate’s wife, ‘Have nothing to do with that righteous man.’

The mob ask for Barabbas, from ‘bar’, son of, and ‘Abba’, father, son of Father, to be set free as it was custom to do so at this time of year, John 18:39-40. Some have suggested that his full name was ‘Jesus Barabbas’ Matthew 27:16, others that the name means ‘Son of Rabbi’.

He was a ‘robber’, ‘lestes’ which means a brigand, bandit, outlaw. The word implies violence, in contrast, the word, ‘keltes’, means a thief, one who steals.

Matthew 27:16, tells us that he was ‘a notorious prisoner’. Mark 15:7 says, ‘rebels, who had murdered in the insurrection.’ Luke 23:25, ‘thrown into prison for insurrection and murder.’ And so, a son of man is set free while the real Son of the Father dies in his place.

Although Pilate was a very powerful man, it would have been embarrassing to of had a riot and killing on his hands due to one disliked Jew, he was also under subjection to Rome and it was politically inexpedient to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere created.

Pilate was ruthless and would not hesitate to use force to put a riot down but that was best avoided. Eventually, this procurator was told to commit suicide by the Roman Caesar Gaius, who reigned from 37-41 A.D.

It’s almost funny that Barabbas had done the very thing Jesus refused to do, revolted against the Romans. They laid information against Jesus before the Roman government as a dangerous character, their real complaint against Him was precisely this, that He wasn’t dangerous.

Pilate executed Him on the ground that His kingdom was of this world, and the Jews secured His execution precisely how they wanted it but more importantly, Jesus got what He predicted would happen.

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