Throughout the gospel accounts, the writers have called attention to the growing tension between belief and unbelief among the people. While the Lord is generally popular among the common people (Mark 12:37), the hatred of the religious leadership grows. That tension reaches its apex as Judas leads officers to Jesus that they might arrest, try, and execute him. We will focus primarily on John’s account of the arrest and the beginning of the trial (John 18).
JESUS IS BETRAYED (18:1-11)
- Following the prayer of John 17, Jesus and the eleven went to the Garden of Gethsemane, a place they had often visited (1-2).
- From the other accounts of this event, we learn that eight of the disciples remained near the entrance of the garden to keep watch, while Peter, James and John accompanied Jesus farther in (Mark 14:32-33).
- Another event that John doesn’t record is the prayer of Jesus (Matt. 26:39, 42, 44; Heb. 5:7).
- Because Judas knew of their frequent visits to the garden, he gathered some officers and soldiers and led them there (3).
- When the soldiers arrived, Jesus went out to meet them and identified himself as the one they were seeking (4-9).
- Jesus’ submission to the arrest was voluntary and in full awareness that this was an integral part of his mission into the world (cf. 10:18).
- Jesus was so quick to identify himself as the person they sought that the soldiers were awestruck (6-9).
- Peter then drew his sword in defense of Jesus and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. Jesus rebuked him (10-11) and healed the man (Luke 22:51).
JESUS BEFORE ANNAS (18:12-27)
- Jesus is bound by the soldiers and taken to Annas for questioning (12-14).
- While Jesus is before Annas, Peter denies Jesus for the first time (15-18).
- Annas questions Jesus about his teaching and his disciples (19-24).
- As the questioning continued, Peter denied Jesus two more times (25-27).
JESUS BEFORE PILATE (18:28-40)
- The officers of the High Priest take Jesus to Pilate, who wants to know what crime Jesus has committed (29). They dodged the question, hoping that Pilate would just condemn Jesus to death at their request (30).
- So Pilate tells them to handle the matter themselves and judge Jesus by Jewish law. But these men want blood, and they want Rome to do it (31-32).
- Pilate doesn’t want to execute Jesus without cause, so he questions him, but discovers nothing that warrants execution (33-38).
- In keeping with an annual custom of releasing a prisoner at the Passover, Pilate asks if they want Jesus to be that person. They ask for the release of Barabbas instead (39-40).
- Jesus always put others before himself (18:8; Phil. 2:5-8; Mark 10:45).
- In the chaos of the moment, Jesus kept his focus on the God’s will (18:10-11).
- In the chaos of the moment, we might do things that we would not otherwise do (18:17-18, 25-27). This is not an excuse, just an explanation.
- Hypocrites are very selective in their obedience (18:28-31). The officers are careful not to defile themselves or enact the death penalty on their own, but care nothing about seeking the death of an innocent man.
- The kingdom of Christ is spiritual, not political (18:36).
Anyone interested in truth will listen to Jesus (18:37).