John 18:1 When
Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook
Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed Him,
also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples.
When Jesus finished speaking
these words in John 13-17, they went out, which indicates His entire discourse
and prayer happened in the upper room. It makes sense that Jesus would have
said all these things in the quietness of the upper room instead of outside in
the noisy city.
The Brook Kidron, which is
translated flowing in winter, was a
valley located on the eastern slope of
· David crossed this brook when he was fleeing from his son Absalom (2 Sam. 15:23).
· King Asa, Josiah, and Hezekiah had pagan idols and objects destroyed in the valley (1 Kgs. 15:13; 23:4; 2 Chr. 29:16; 30; 14).
inspected the walls of
· This valley was also known as the graves of the common people (2 Kgs. 23:6; Jer. 26:23; 31:40).
After they crossed this valley,
they went to the
John 18:3 Then
Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the
chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Judas was leading a detachment of
troops, which consisted of about 600 Roman soldiers. Most likely, not all 600
men were there. There was also a group of temple guards that went with them.
They were obviously expecting to have to search them out and fight them since
they had lanterns, torches, and weapons.
John 18:4 Jesus
therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said
to them, "Whom are you seeking?"
5 They answered Him, "Jesus of
John’s account does not record
the betrayal kiss of Judas, but it does give us additional information the
other accounts do not. We learned back in John 13 that Jesus already knew Judas
was going to portray Him, and He was not surprised by this group of men that
came to arrest Him. While these men came to seek Jesus out and possibly fight
His men, Jesus approached them and took control of the situation.
Jesus knew what these men wanted,
but He asked them, “Whom are you seeking?” They said they were looking for
Jesus. Now if Jesus had wanted to live another day, He could have run and hid,
or He could have lied about whom He was. Instead, He boldly proclaimed “I am He.” The Word “He” is not in the
original Greek, so Jesus is saying that He is the “I am” just as He claimed in
John 8:58, which expresses His Deity.
We do not know how many soldiers
where there, but Jesus’ boldness caused them to move backwards and fall to the
ground. Some have suggested that a miracle caused this to happen. If it was a
miracle, the Bible does not give us that detail. Again, Jesus asked them who
they were looking for, and their answer was the same. For a second time, Jesus
tell them that He is the “I am.”
He tells them He is willing to go
with them voluntarily, but He wants them to let His apostles go so His saying
would be fulfilled that He mentioned in His prayer (Jn. 17:12). Jesus example
teaches us a great lesson. Jesus prayer in John 17 included several things
including protecting His apostles. Jesus did pray to God and expect Him to do
it all with no action on His part because He understood that action is required
on our part, which why Jesus was asking for His apostles to be let go. By the
providence of God, this prayer was answered.
We need to realize that sometimes
our prayers to God require action on our part. For instance, if we pray for a
job so we can make more money, we cannot just sit at home and expect a job to
come to us. No, we must actively seek a job and trust that God will help us
find the best job for us.
John 18:10 Then
Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, and
cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. 11 So Jesus said to Peter,
"Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father
has given Me?"
Peter claimed earlier that He was willing to go to His death for
Jesus, and Peter is proving his commitment. He pulled out his sword and cut of
the high priest’s servant’s right ear. John is the only one that records both
Peter’s name and the name of the servant. Although Peter’s actions were
genuine, he did not understand what was going on because he was thinking of
physical things. Peter’s actions remind me of what Jesus had told Him earlier: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me,
for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Mt.
Jesus’ kingdom would not be won
this way because His kingdom was not of this world (Jn. 18:36). As Paul wrote:
John 18:12 Then
the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews
arrested Jesus and bound Him. 13
And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas
who was high priest that year. 14
Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man
should die for the people.
Even though Jesus gave Himself up
voluntarily, these Gentile men bound Him, which fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy (Mt.
20:19). Again, we do not know how many troops were there, but apparently this
was an important arrest because the Captain was there. While Jesus was being
bound, His disciples forsook Him and fled (Mk. 14:50).
Only John’s account mentions that
Jesus was taken to Annas. Annas had been the high priest before, but he had
been removed from that position by the Roman government. However, he still had
great influence and many considered him as a high priest, which is why we find
both Caiaphas and Annas being called high priest (Jn. 18:13, 19; Lk. 3:2). Lanely
explains it this way:
the Mosaic law, the High Priest was the most important member of the believing
community because he was the only one authorized by God to offer sacrifices for
the sins of the community on the Day of Atonement (Exo. 30:10; Lev 16). This office was held by a descendant of Aaron
and was passed on from father to son (cf.
Exo. 28:1; Num. 18:1; 20:25-28).
During King Herod's rule, however, the traditional pattern was often
ignored as Herod arbitrarily dismissed and replaced the High Priest (Josephus
Antiquities 15.51). From then on, and
continuing during Roman rule, the office ceased to be lifelong and
hereditary. The office of High Priest
became wholly dependent on political authority.
But because the office of High Priest was lifelong, the High Priest
retained a good measure of power and prestige among the Jewish population even
after removal from office. This provides
some background for the situation reflected in John 18:13 where two men are
regarded as having the authority of the High Priest. Annas was appointed as High Priest in A.D. 6
by Quirinius, governor of
When John wrote that Caiaphas was high priest that year, he is pointing out that he was the high priest during the year our Lord was put to death. This is the same Caiaphas who spoke prophetically about Jesus’ death earlier (Jn. 11:49-51).
John 18:15 And
Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that
disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard
of the high priest. 16 But
Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the
high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter
in. 17 Then the servant girl
who kept the door said to Peter, "You are not also one of this
Man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." 18 Now the servants and officers
who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed
themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.
Jesus’ disciples scattered at His
arrest, but Matthew tells us that Peter followed Jesus from afar (Mt. 26:58).
Who is this other unnamed disciple that rejoined Jesus who was known by the
high priest? Most believe that it was John. Since he was known by the high
priest, he was allowed to enter where Jesus was taken, but Peter remained outside
Then John, presumably, who was
known to be a disciple of Jesus spoke to the girl guarding the door so Peter
could come in. We are not told what caused this servant girl to assume that
Peter was also a disciple of Jesus, but I see at least two possibilities.
First, just being a friend of Johns who wanted to see what was happening with
Jesus would have caused her to think he was a disciple. Second, it is possible
his Galilean accent caused her to assume he was disciple (Mk. 14:70). While her
assumption was correct, Peter quickly denied it.
It was in the middle of the night
and it had started getting cold, so a fire was made and Peter warmed himself by
the fire with the servants and officers.
John 18:19 The
high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, "I
spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple,
where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. 21 "Why do you ask Me? Ask
those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I
said." 22 And when He
had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the
palm of his hand, saying, "Do You answer the high priest like
that?" 23 Jesus answered
him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do
you strike Me?" 24 Then
Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
The place Jesus was taken to is
believed to be the home of Annas and Caiaphas. John is the only one that
records that Jesus was brought before Annas first and what took place during
this event. Before we go any further, we need to understand a few things about
Mr. Walker writes:
individual was to be considered innocent until proven guilty. Second, the individual was not even to face
trial until the evidence of witnesses could be stated and confirmed. Third, an individual could not be called on
to incriminate himself. The case had to
be established by witnesses. This
understanding will help us when we see the response that Jesus' answer brings
(Denton Lectures Electronic Version, Gospel of John).
This background information will
bring more clarity to our text. First, Annas wants to know about Jesus’ and His
disciples’ doctrine. Since Jesus was the one on trial, He only answered for
Himself. His answer was simple because He had not kept His doctrine secret. He
had taught it openly around the Jews and any of them could tell Annas what His
doctrine was. Jesus appeals to the fact that there should be witnesses if he is
going to be accused of something.
One of the officers did not like
Jesus’ response, so he struck Him with the palm of his hand across His face.
This was the usually response if someone was speaking against the high priest
(Acts 23:1-5). However, Jesus did not deserve this form of rebuke because all
He was doing was defending Himself and demanding what the Law of Moses called
for. So, Jesus demanded for witnesses to be brought forth to prove that He had
spoken evil for being struck in the face. If there was a response to Jesus”
demands, we are not told. We only know that Jesus was sent to Caiaphas next.
Now, this does not mean that He had to go a long way, but most likely He was
just taken to another part of the palace.
John’s account does not record what
happened when Jesus went before Caiaphas, but the synoptic Gospels do (Mt.
26:57-68; Mk. 14:53-65; Lk. 22:66-71). They record how false witnesses were
brought forth. This whole trial was illegal, but these opposing Jews were
desperate to kill Jesus, and this was also prophesied in Psalms 2:1-3.
John 18:25 Now
Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, "You are
not also one of His disciples, are you?" He denied it and
said, "I am not!" 26
One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear
Peter cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the garden with Him?" 27 Peter then denied again; and
immediately a rooster crowed.
Peter has already denied Jesus once, and Mark’s account tells us that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed twice (Mk. 14:72). When Peter, heard the roster crow the first time, it seems that Peter would realize that he was doing exactly what Jesus said he would do, but it did not stop him. When we examine all four accounts, we learn that there were multiple people asking Peter if he was a disciple of Jesus, which caused him to deny Jesus two more times. The last person that asked him was an eyewitness that had seen Peter in the garden, yet Peter still denied it, and Matthew’s account says that he cursed and swore that he was not a disciple (Mt. 26:74).Cursing and swearing here does not carry the same meaning as what we think of today. Instead, it means to swear an oath. It would be similar to someone saying, “I promise you I am telling you the truth, and if I lying let God strike me with lightening right now.”
When Peter denied Jesus for a third time the rooster crowed a second time. Luke’s account gives us some additional information:
Luke 22:61 And the
Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how
He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three
times." 62 So Peter went
out and wept bitterly.
If it was not bad enough that Peter denied Jesus three times and then heard the rooster crow this second time; He also did it while Jesus was near. I can only imagine how guilty Peter felt as Jesus turned and looked at him. We can only imagine what expression Jesus had on His face. Peter realized at that moment what Jesus had said to him earlier, and it caused him to leave and weep bitterly.
These events teach us a couple of lessons:
John 18:28 Then
they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But
they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled,
but that they might eat the Passover.
The Jews decided that Jesus must
die, but they could not legally kill anyone without Roman consent, which is why
they were bringing him to Pilate at the Praetorium.
What is a Praetorium? Thayer
"head-quarters" in a Roman camp, the tent of the commander-in-chief
2) the palace in which the governor or procurator of a province resided, to
which use the Romans were accustomed to appropriate the palaces already
existing, and formerly dwelt in by kings or princes; at Jerusalem it was a
magnificent palace which Herod the Great had built for himself, and which the
Roman procurators seemed to have occupied whenever they came from Caesarea to
Jerusalem to transact public business.
The Jews had no problem violating
multiple laws of God in convicting Jesus to death, yet they were still
concerned about defiling themselves by entering a Gentile area.
One thing challenging about the
verse is that the Jews did not want to defile themselves so they could eat the
Passover. On the surface, this would suggest that Passover had not occurred
yet. However, we know that Jesus and His disciples partook of the Passover meal
the day before (Mt. 26:18; Mk. 14:14). So, how do we make sense of the Jews
indicating the Passover had not taken place? Well, there have been several
explanations given. Note the following explanations I have adapted from Wayne
Jackson’s article, “Did Jesus eat the Passover Supper?”
1. Some claim
the meal Jesus and His disciples ate was not the Passover, but this contradicts
what the Bible teaches.
2. Some have
suggested that they ate the Passover a day early and that it was acceptable
because Jesus had the authority to do so. This explanation does not work
because Jesus made sure that He kept the Law of Moses, and He did not change
it; He fulfilled it.
3. Some claim
that these opposing Jews were so busy trying to find Jesus that they did not
eat the Passover on the right day, so they were going to eat it the next day.
4. Some claim
that Jesus and these other Jews were using different calendars to determine
when the Passover occurred.
While number 3 and 4 may be plausible, I believe the best explanation is that the word “Passover” can be used to describe the Pascal lamb itself (Mk. 14:12; Lk. 22:7; 1 Cor. 5:7), a meal that was eaten on the 14th of Nisan (Mt. 26:18-19; Lk. 22:8, 13; Heb. 11:28), and it is also used to refer to the eight day period that included eating the Passover meal and the feast of unleavened bread (Ezek: 45:21; Lk. 22:1, 7; Acts 12:3-4). This explanation has the most evidence and many respectable scholars hold this view.
So these Jews were not referring to the Passover meal that prepared the day before, but to the feast of the unleavened bread. If they allowed themselves to be defiled, they would not be able to participate in it.
John 18:29 Pilate
then went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this
Man?" 30 They answered
and said to him, "If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered
Him up to you." 31 Then
Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according to your
law." Therefore the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put
anyone to death," 32
that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what
death He would die.
Pilate wants to know what the
accusation is against Jesus, and the Jews tell him He is an evildoer. When
Pilate realized they were accusing Him of things to do with their law, he told
them take care of the matter themselves, but they wanted Jesus dead, which only
Pilate could grant under Roman law. Since Roman law would not allow the Jews to
put Jesus to death, He would have to die by crucifixion, which is exactly how
Jesus said He would be put to death (Jn. 12:32; Mt. 30:18-19).
Luke’s account records more
accusations the Jews made such as Jesus was perverting the nation, not paying
His taxes, and that He claiming to be a king (Lk. 23:1-2). Luke’s account also
records how Pilate sent Jesus to Herod first, but Herod sent Jesus back to
Pilate (Lk. 23:6-12).
John 18:33 Then
Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, "Are
You the King of the Jews?" 34
Jesus answered him, "Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did
others tell you this concerning Me?"
35 Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the
chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?" 36 Jesus answered, "My
kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants
would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom
is not from here." 37
Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered,
"You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and
for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the
truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."
Since the Jews claimed Jesus was
calling Himself a king, Pilate wanted to know if this was true. At first, Jesus
wanted to know if this was Pilate’s question or the Jews. Pilate confirmed that
it was a question from the Jews, so Jesus affirmed that He is a king. However,
His kingdom was not a physical one, it was a spiritual one. He explains that if
He was interested in establishing a physical kingdom, His servants would fight
and He would have been delivered from the Jews.
Jesus was not scared to proclaim
the truth no matter what the consequences may be, and we should learn to follow
His example. Just as Jesus said, He came to bear witness to the truth. Those
who are willing to believe that truth will take heed to what Jesus said.
John 18:38 Pilate
said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out
again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all. 39 " But you have a custom
that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me
to release to you the King of the Jews?"
40 Then they all cried again, saying, "Not this Man, but
Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.
Pilate asked a great question,
but our text does not indicate that he wanted to know the answer. It would be
great if every person asked this question and then listened to the answer found
in the Word of God (Jn. 8:32-33; 14:6; 17:17).
Pilate could not find a valid
reason to kill Jesus and even his wife had sent word to him not to have
anything to do with this man because she had suffered many things in dream
because of Him (Mt. 27:19). So, Pilate did his best to let Jesus go. For
instance, he hoped the Jews might let Jesus go if he gave them a choice of
releasing Barabbas, a known criminal, or Jesus. Once again, we see the term
Passover used to describe the feast of the unleavened bread. Proof for this
comes from the other Gospel accounts, which state that this custom of releasing
a prisoner occurs on the feast (Mt. 27:15; Mk: 15:6; Lk. 23:17). To Pilate’s
surprise, the Jews choose Barabbas to be released who was a robber and a murderer
I can imagine how relived
Barabbas was that Jesus was going to take his place and had given him another
chance at life. The same thing can be said for all us because Jesus died on the
cross and He bore the weight of our sin so we can have chance at eternal life. We
only have one life to live, so we need to make the best of it and live it for