18:1-2 When he had said these things, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley. There was an orchard there, and he and his disciples went into it. (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, knew the place too, because Jesus had met there many times with his disciples.)
Jesus having committed himself, his disciples, and all believers through the ages, to His Father now takes the first step into the battle arena and crossing over the ravine of áedron, which signifies 'dark", and leads His disciples into the garden of Gethsemene, a place where He had often gone to with them at previous visits to Jerusalem. The only reference that John makes to the sufferings of Jesus in the garden is in verse 11 where Jesus refers to the æ²cup given Him by His Father". John points out to us that Judas Iscariot was familiar with the normal routine of the Lord for He not only knew that it was a place of retreat but also that Jesus would be there at this particular time. We can be sure that the Devil knows all about the secret place for prayer that we resort to and what times we spend there.
18:3 So Judas obtained a squad of soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees. They came to the orchard with lanterns and torches and weapons.
Judas must have expected the disciples to put up a fight for he comes with not only with the Temple guards and their officers but also with a band of Roman soldiers (band of men in A.V. the Greek word used, 'speir"a, was the technical term for a detachment of Roman soldiers) all armed to the teeth.
18:4 Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, "Who are you looking for?"
Jesus is never taken unawares and knew precisely the time that they would arrive and therefore goes to meet them with the challenge of who they were looking for.
18:5-9 They replied, "Jesus the Nazarene." He told them, "I am he." (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.) So when Jesus said to them, "I am he," they retreated and fell to the ground. Then Jesus asked them again, "Who are you looking for?" And they said, "Jesus the Nazarene." Jesus replied, "I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these men go." He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, "I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me." They reply using what would be His parental given name for they still considered Him to be nothing more than an ordinary man. So when He replies using the Divinely sacred name of God, 'I AM", and He must have done so with the authority invested in Him by that Name they loose complete control of themselves and as one man they fall to the ground showing that He and He alone is in control of things not them. They are only able to come up against Him because He allows it. The second time He uses the Name He allows them to remain standing and commands that they let His disciples go in fulfilment of the of the Lord's promises of preservation and deliverance John 17:12.
18:10-12 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, pulled it out and struck the high priest's slave, cutting off his right ear. (Now the slave's name was Malchus.) But Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword back into its sheath! Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?" Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and tied him up.
It is generally accepted that although John does not state so that at this point Judas Iscariot came forward and gave the betrayer's kiss to the Lord. It is at this point that Peter feeling courageous, remember it was a large group of fully armed men, and takes up the sword to defend his Lord and cuts off the ear of Malchus. Jesus tells Peter to but his sword away '"before anymore physical aggression breaks out; for evil can only be overcome if Jesus Himself drinks the cup of the wrath of God, and He is under a divine necessity to drink that cup alone and to drink it to the full" [Tasker] (see Luke 22:42). " And so they are allowed to arrest and lead Him bound to His interrogator.
Various commentators differ on this portion of scripture as to whether how much of these verses took place before Annas and how much before Caiphas as John's account is not too clear on this. I have followed the line that Jesus was interrogated by Annas and then sent to Caisphas and the Sanhedrin for His so called hearing before being tried by Pilate.
18:13-14 They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. (Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.)
Annas was a very powerful man for although He had been removed from the office of High Priest by the Romans he still seemed to influence his son-in-law Caiphas who was in fact the High Priest at this time.
18:15-18 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. 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. 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." 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.
Before continuing with the account John tells us what is going on regarding Peter who was so boastful in John 13:37 and was so brave in in verse 10. Here we see that Peter is beginning to find out some truths concerning himself. He begins to draw back from the Lord and follows Him at a distance. The servant girl did not know Peter to be a disciple of Jesus although she knew the other disciple, most probably John, to be. Because it was at this other disciples request that Peter be allowed in she questions him on it. Peter denies that he is a following of Jesus. He takes his stand among those who had come out against Jesus and so associates himself with unbelievers. Why didn't he stay with John ? (see Psalm 1). We come back to Peter later.
18:19 The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.
The interrogation commences by Annas questioning Jesus first about His disciples. Was this in order to obtain evidence that He was the leader of a group of terrorists against the Roman rule? Secondly about His teachings in the hope that He would say something that would incriminate Him and thus provide evidence that would bring a verdict of guilty from the Sanhedrin and the Roman governor.
18:20-21 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. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said."
Jesus will not give witness of Himself, which was contrary to the law anyway and which they had accused Him of doing in John 8:13. He directs them to ask the countless number of people who had heard His teachings in the synagogues and in the Temple itself, also in the open fields for He had spoken plainly for all to hear.
18:22-23 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?" Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?"
As a result of His answer one of the officers who is horrified by the way Jesus speaks to Annas gives the first physical blow. Jesus questions his right to do this as there is no justification for it at all. He is still in control of the situation, they can only do what He allows them to.
18:24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
It was Caiphas who had told the Sanhedrin that it was necessary that one should die for the people (John 11:50). Therefore the hearing was only a formality, for Caiphas along with the majority of the Sanhedrin had already made up their minds that Jesus should die so John does not give any details it. Before taking us to the trial we return to Peter.
18:25-27 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!" 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?" Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.
Peter is now questioned by the officers he is standing among and he denies any knowledge of Jesus for the second time. However there was one present among them who had saw Peter cut off the ear of Malchus and for the final time he denies his Lord and the cock crew. At this point Peter fully realises that of himself he can do nothing and that of himself he is nothing. In the near future though he would find out that "he could do all things through Christ who strengthens" (Phil. 4:13).
The Trial and the Verdict
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.
Jesus in now taken to the residence of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. But because it was passover His accusers would not enter into the Judgement Hall because it was a Gentile residence and resident they did not want to defile themselves although they are quite prepared to hand over the one who was to be '"The Passover Lamb"" to be crucified.
18:29-31 Pilate then went out to them and said, "What accusation do you bring against this Man?" They answered and said to him, "If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you." 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."
Pilate plays a cat and mouse game with them for he has no love for the Jews and on being asked why they have brought Jesus to him their only reply was that if he had not done anything wrong they would not have done so. He goads them further by telling them to judge Him themselves knowing that they wanted Jesus to be put to death and that the Jews had no authority to do so. It is still the Lord who is in charge, for it was ordained that He should die by being nailed to a cross which was the Romans capital punishment. Pilate's questioning of Jesus brings out two important things concerning Him:-
The Question of Kingship
18:33-36 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered him, "Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?" Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?" 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."
Was there something about the bearing and manner of Jesus that reminded Pilate of the majesty of a king or was he just going by what he had heard? Pilate might be the Roman governor and have the might of Rome behind him but Jesus is more supreme and powerful that the Caesars. If is kingdom was of this world then His followers would rise and fight for His release. (It has been suggested that Jesus could have been referring to the ten thousand angels that He could have called to deliver Him) But His kingdom is not an earthly but an heavenly one, it is not without but within Luke 17:21, is not in word, but power (1 Cor. 4:20), it is an everlasting kingdom with an eternal King. He is the King of Kings.
The Question of Truth
18:37-40 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." 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. "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?" Then they all cried again, saying, "Not this Man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber.
Pilate would have been a complete stranger as far as truth is concerned but here he is faced with truth in person, the Lord Jesus Christ and his reactions to this was that of indifference and/ or contempt for it as displayed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Pilate, like most people, did not want to face up to the truth and although he declares to the Jews that he finds Jesus not guilty he takes an easy way out in order to please them and not to get a bad report sent to Caesar he uses an annual custom to ask the people who they wanted set free. The cry goes up for a thief and murderer - Barabas and the Jews reject their Messiah and King.
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