John 18:1-40 - Outline of John (MENU page)
18:1. When Jesus had spoken these words,
he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron,
{as the rejected king, David crossed this brook 1000 years earlier, 2Sam 15:22,23}
where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.
18:2 And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place:
for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
{cp. Luk 21:37; 22:39}
Jesus comes now to the garden of Gethsemane.- cp. Mat 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luk 22:39-46
John's account supplements the record of the other three gospels.
They have already reported Jesus' prayer of agony. John does not mention it.
While the other writers focus on the humanity and suffering of Jesus, John focuses on the Deity and dignity of God the Son, as He made His way toward the cross. Here we see that Christ was in ultimate control of these events.
Judas knew the place, but not the Master.
18:3 Judas then, having received a band [of men] and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees,
cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.
18:4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him,
went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
18:5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus saith unto them, I am [he].
And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.
18:6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am [he],
they went backward, and fell to the ground.
a band- GK=speiran, a group of armed men. The word may be
used technically of a Roman 'cohort' which consisted of 600 men. cp. Acts 10:1
They are well prepared. They intend to take Him dead or alive.
cp. Mat 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luk 22:47-54
Jesus, therefore, knowing... (v.4)- cp. 13:1,3; 16:28; 19:28
He is also well prepared. In actuality...
He is in control.- No man will take His life from Him (10:11,17,18).
  • He chose a quiet garden, to allow His arrest. (v.1,2) cp. Mat 21:46; 26:55
  • He "went forth."- He approaches His enemies, rather than running or hiding from them.
  • He initiates the dialogue.- "Whom seek ye?"
    They are seeking a man from Nazareth named Jesus.
  • He presents Himself to them.- "I am [he]." Note that '[he]' is not present in the GK.
    Although these words are properly translated "I am he," in some contexts (eg., 9:9),
    "I am" is the literal and proper translation elsewhere (eg., 8:58; cp. Ex 3:14). cp. v.5,6,8
    From their reaction (v.6), it appears that He momentarily revealed His Glory to them.
they went backward, and fell to the ground.- cp. Psa 27:1,2; 35:4; 40:14
They did not fall 'forward' to worship Him. Rather, they were moved by fear and confusion, because they did not know Him. (cp. 1Cor 2:8; 2Cor 4:3,4)
18:7 Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye?
And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
18:8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am [he]:
if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
18:9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake,
Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.
He is in control.-
  • He tells them who they can and cannot arrest.
    The authorities probably intended to arrest His disciples as accomplices to whatever He would be accused. His disciples expected that outcome (11:16; 12:10; 13:37).
that the saying might be fulfilled...-
His Word is more powerful than the weapons of His enemies. cp. 6:38,39; 17:12; also Zech 13:7; Mat 26:31
18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it,
and smote the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear.
The servant's name was Malchus.
{cp. Luk 22:50,51}
18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath:
the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
He is in control.- If not, Peter would have been arrested for his attack. cp. v.8
Peter having a sword...- No doubt, Peter was aiming for the man's head, but missed.
Peter had no hope of defeating the well armed multitude.
But he was determined to prove himself to the Lord, not recognizing that he also was powerless to overthrow the words of Jesus. cp. Mat 26:33-35; Luk 22:34-38; Joh 13:36-38
the cup... shall I not drink it? - cp. Psa 11:6; 75:8; Jer 25:15; 2Cor 5:21
The cup, filled with sin's guilt and judgment, was repulsive to Him.
But there was no other way to accomplish the Father's perfect will. 12:27,28; Mat 26:39,42
Jesus would not allow Peter's fleshly will to thwart His purpose (cp. Mat 16:21-23).
Peter 's action could not have prevented His arrest, but the violence that could have followed might have prevented Jesus from going to the cross by means of His premature death by sword. But He was in control.
18:12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
18:13 And led him away to Annas first;
for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
18:14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews,
that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
Jesus was led away alone. cp. 16:32; Mat 26:56
Annas- "had been appointed high priest by Quirinius, governor of Syria in AD 6,
and remained until he was deposed by Valerius Gratus, procurator of Judea in AD 15. According to Jewish law, the high priestly office was for life, but the Romans did not like the concentration of power in one person, so they frequently changed high priests. Annas was succeeded by five of his sons, and by his son-in-law Caiaphas. Evidently Annas remained the power behind the [office]." [TBKC]
Annas and Caiaphas shared political power, during and beyond the earthly ministry of Jesus. cp. Luk 3:2; Acts 4:6
Jesus was condemned by both the Jewish and Roman legal systems.
Compare the four gospel accounts for the full record of His trial.
- - Before the Jews- v.12-14; v.19-24; Mat 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luk 22:54,63-71
- - Before the Romans- v.28-40; 19:1-16; Mat 27:1-31; Mark 15:1-20; Luk 23:1-25
John omits some stages (eg., before Herod). But all of the accounts indicate the irregularities and injustice of the process.
A few are seen here:
  • Annas was disqualified to hear the case, since he no longer held legal authority. v.13
  • Caiaphas, the legal Jewish judge, was not impartial having prejudged the case. v.14; 11:49-51
18:15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and [so did] another disciple:
that disciple was known unto the high priest,
and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
18:16 But Peter stood at the door without.
Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest,
and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
18:17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter,
Art not thou also [one] of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.
18:18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals;
for it was cold: and they warmed themselves:
and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
another disciple- ie., John, the writer of this account. cp. 13:23; 20:2; 21:20,24
Peter stood at the door without... stood and warmed himself- (cp. the progression of Psa 1:1)-
Attempting to fit in where he was out of place, Peter gave place to temptation.
18:19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. {cp. 7:16,17}
18:20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world;
I ever taught in the synagogue
{6:59}, and in the temple {7:14,28}, whither the Jews always resort;
and in secret have I said nothing.
{10:24,25; Psa 40:9}
18:21 Why askest thou me?
ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them:
behold, they know what I said.
18:22 And when he had thus spoken,
one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand,
{cp. Mic 5:1}
saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
18:23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil:
but if well, why smitest thou me?
18:24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
Jesus is in control.-
His words stand in judgment of their illegal proceedings-
  • They had no right to conduct His trial in secret. He had not taught in secret.
  • They had no witnesses against Him. (cp. Deu 17:6; 19:15)
  • They had no right to make Him testify against Himself.
  • They had no right to strike Him, without proof of guilt. (cp. Acts 23:1-3; Deu 25:1,2)
18:25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself.
They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also [one] of his disciples?
He denied [it], and said, I am not.
18:26 One of the servants of the high priest, being [his] kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith,
Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
18:27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
Meanwhile, Peter is still standing in the place of temptation.
His fear of recognition by a relative of Malchus explains the vehemence of his third denial.
cp. Mat 26:69-75; Luk 22:54-62
immediately the cock crew.- Jesus' prediction of Peter's failure was precise.
"Cockcrow" was actually a technical term referring to two specific times at night. (cp. Mark 14:30)
These times were officially marked by the sounding of a trumpet.
The first "cockcrow" was shortly after midnight, corresponding to Peter's first denial (v.16,17).
The second "cockcrow" was just before morning. cp. Mark 14:66-72
Peter's failure was no less serious than that of Judas.
But the Lord intervened to preserve & restore repentant Peter. cp. Luk 22:31-34; Joh 21:15-17
18:28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early;
and they themselves went not into the judgment hall,
lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
it was early.- This highlights other irregularities of justice.-
- Court was not to be conducted at night.
- A death sentence was not to be rendered until at least 24 hours after the trial.
The hypocrisy of these religious leaders is evident.-
- They want to eat the Passover, but they reject God's Passover Lamb. cp. 8:42
- They want to avoid ceremonial pollution, but they have murder in their hearts. cp. 8:44; Isa 1:11-15
Today also, many 'religious' people participate in ceremony, without knowing Christ. (17:3)
18:29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said,
What accusation bring ye against this man?
18:30 They answered and said unto him,
If he were not a malefactor
{ie., an evil-doer}, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
18:31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law.
The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
18:32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled,
which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
Pilate... went out unto them.- The accusers will not come in,
so, he is forced to go back and forth between the accusers and the Accused.
cp. v.29,33,38; 19:1,4,9,13
What accusation bring ye...? - v.30-32
The Jewish court condemned Jesus to death for "blasphemy" (Mat 26:65,66).
The Roman court would not accept an accusation based on the Jewish religious laws.
that the saying of Jesus... signifying what death He should die.- cp. 3:14; 12:32,33; Mat 20:17-19
- - The Jewish mode of execution was stoning. Although the Jews could not legally carry out capital punishment under Roman rule, they were known to take matters into their own hands (eg., the stoning of Stephen, Acts 7:57,58).
- - But Jesus' words must be fulfilled. He would be crucified by the Romans.
He was in control.
18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him,
Art thou the King of the Jews?
18:34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
the King of the Jews- The Romans would take seriously any threat to their political power.
See Luke 23:2 for the three accusations which the Jewish leadership brought against Jesus.
Pilate is about to go on trial in his own judgment hall.-
Jesus asks for the source of the accusation and the evidence against Him.
18:35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew?
Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me:
what hast thou done?
18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world:
if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight,
{cp. v.11}
that I should not be delivered to the Jews:
but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate, speaking in private to Jesus, wanted Him to deny that He claimed to be King.
Lacking hard evidence, the case might then be dismissed as frivolous.
Jesus answers the false accusations with truth:
My kingdom is not "of" {GK=ek, out of, sourced in} this world.-
  • Jesus did not deny that His kingdom would someday be established on the earth.
    (Prophecy declares that it will come. eg., Isa 9:7; Dan 7:14).
  • Jesus explained that His Kingdom was no threat to the Roman power of that day.-
    • It would not be established "out of" worldly means,
      (ie., by political power, or military might).
    • It would not be established "now" (but rather, awaited a future time).
    • It would not be established "from here" (but rather, by His return from Heaven).
18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?
Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born,
{Isa 9:6,7; Luk 1:31-33}
and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.
Every one that is of the truth
{cp. 14:6} heareth my voice.
Thou sayest that I am a king.- or, 'It is as you say: I am a king.' (cp. Psa 45:1-6)
  • Before the Jewish rulers, He declared Himself to be the Son of God (Mat 26:63-65).
    They called Him a blasphemer, worthy of death.
  • Before the Roman governor, He declared Himself to be the King of the Jews.
    How would Pilate respond to the Truth?
18:38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?
And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them,
I find in him no fault [at all].
18:39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover:
will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
18:40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas.
Now Barabbas was a robber.
{cp. Mark 15:7; Luk 23:25; Acts 3:14}
I find in him no fault...-
Pilate knew that Jesus was a just man.
cp. Mat 27:18,24; Mark 15:10; Luk 23:20,22; Joh 19:12; Acts 3:13
He gave witness to the fitness of the Passover Lamb. cp. Ex 12:5
Pilate had the authority and responsibility to release an innocent man.
Considering righteous judgment too politically costly, Pilate attempted to obtain Jesus' release by a political maneuver. He set truth aside, and deferred the decision to the people, levering their options to ensure the desired outcome.
But the King, being in control, would not be restored to Israel through worldly means.
Jesus took the place of a man who was guilty and worthy of death. cp. 1Pet 3:18; 1Cor 15:3,4
As the God-man, Jesus could be the substitute for an infinite number of sinners.
As one, whose death He died, I will be eternally grateful.
...and you?

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