Happy Sunday! We are picking up in John chapter 18 today with Jesus’ arrest.
It’s our last Sunday before Christmas. We have only four more days left of our study, which is craziness. I remember thinking “what have I gotten myself into?” on day three! Although I am enjoying it so much (and getting more out of it than I’m probably giving), it definitely was an undertaking that God has had to walk me through daily.
As always, the chapter and it’s headings below were taken directly from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. Jesus’ words are in red, and my commentary and insight is in blue. I will have the video recording linked at the bottom of this page, if you’d prefer to listen along.
Day 18- Here we go!
John Chapter 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.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 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.
So Judas was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. He had left the group during their last supper shortly ago, to gather an army to find and arrest Jesus. Although the other disciples were unaware of these plans, Jesus knew exactly what was to take place here in the garden.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
It sounds as if the power of the Holy Spirit of Jesus revealed itself in that moment by knocking the men off their feet. Jesus doesn’t plan on exerting his power to oppose his arrest and murder, although he absolutely could. Submission to arrest and death is obedience to the Father and salvation of the world. He does, however chose to reveal himself as the mighty and perfect Son of God, and this is one display of that.
7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
As we read in John chapter 6, Jesus doesn’t drive us away or lead us into destruction. He won’t let harm come to his disciples. He puts himself in their place, and willingly heads to the cross that they deserved but he never did. He did that for us too.
10 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.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
In Luke’s account of this moment, he reports something that John left out here. Jesus touched Malchus’ ear and healed it (Luke 22:51). A man who is very much a part of Jesus’ unjust arrest, receives the love and grace from his Savior, even while opposing Him.
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
This last verse is just a reminder of how unfounded Jesus’ arrest really is. The law does not provide adequate ground for Jesus to be sentenced to capital punishment. His murder was ultimately a strategic decision made by those in power and it was an abuse of their power.
Peter’s First Denial
15 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, 16 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.
17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”
18 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.
I can only imagine that Peter was terrified about what may happen to him if he admitted to be following Jesus. However, he did tell Jesus only a couple chapters ago that he would die for him. Here is his first denial of Jesus (John 13:37).
Notice that he is trying to blend in with the very group of people that have arrested his Lord.
The High Priest Questions Jesus
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “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. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 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.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
25 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.”
26 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?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
Strike three for Peter. Remember, Jesus predicted that Peter would disown him 3 times before the rooster crows (John 13:38).
Jesus Before Pilate
28 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. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
Interesting that these false accusers make sure not to break the ceremonial law… How very holy of them (sarcasm intended).
30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.
The Jewish leaders have crucifixion in mind for Jesus. They need Pilate’s go-ahead, because their own law (the same law that Jesus came to fulfill) did not condemn Jesus. He had done nothing deserving of arrest, let alone the death penalty.
33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
The Jewish people were living under Roman oppression at the time. As the Roman governor, Pilate was used to arresting Jewish revolutionaries who were plotting an overthrow. Remember, “king was a political title”. Pilate is asking Jesus if he opposed the Roman Empire.
34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36 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.”
37 “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.”
Jesus is essentially saying “yes, I am”. Because he certainly is, but his kingship is not a threat to Rome in the way that Pilate is used to seeing.
38 “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. 39 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’?”
40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.
Pilate could see that Jesus was innocent. He tried to prompt them to release Jesus as free. And they insisted that Barabbas, a man who really was a revolutionary, be let go instead. Their hearts were set on the crucifixion of Jesus.
Wow. It’s hard to read, but it’s even harder to believe that Jesus submitted himself to endure so much injustice. He could’ve schooled these people in an instant, yet he bit his tongue in obedience to the Father. He did it for us. He boldly took our crosses and paid the price for our sins. The price of death that we were subject to was paid in full by our loving, gracious, and mighty God.
Jesus’ birth is an incredible story. But this part of the story – his crucifixion and resurrection – is the reason that we all celebrate his birth at all.
5 days until Christmas! I’m feeling really grateful right about now, and I can’t wait for tomorrow’s study with you all! See you then.