-Now that Jesus had completed all He wanted to say to His disciples before His crucifixion, He went forth to complete His mission in giving the world a chance for salvation. He led His disciples out of Jerusalem over the ravine down through the Kidron Valley, which borders the Holy City on the south and east, and came to the base of the Mount of Olives, where there was a garden. This was the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36, Mark 14:32). In other gospel accounts we can read about the prayers of the Savior at this critical juncture (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46). Judas, knowing that this was the place where the Lord took His disciples to meet and pray often, now received a Roman cohort and certain officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They came to Jesus there with lanterns and torches and weapons preparing for a fight. But the Messiah, with full knowledge of what was about to come upon Him, went forth and asked them, “Whom do you seek?” They flat-out told Him, not fully knowing what He looked like, “Jesus the Nazarene.” The Lord acknowledged that He was the One they were looking for. Judas was standing there with this cohort and the officers siding with the enemy now. When Jesus made this comment, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the earth. Not sure if this was their astonishment or the power of the Living God here, but it is remarkable. Seeing this Jesus remarked again, “Whom do you seek?” Again, they responded, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus told them once more that He was the man they were looking for, and He asked that the rest be let to go their own way in freedom. They had done nothing wrong. This fulfilled another prophecy in the incarceration period (John 17:12). Jesus had not lost one to senseless violence. This point was exacerbated with Simon Peter’s next move. He had a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant in the ear cutting it off. This slave’s name was Malchus, as John personifies, but Jesus rebuked His disciple for this useless assault, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” In another part of Scripture, we see in this account that Jesus actually healed the slain man’s ear in His last known miraculous healing of another (Luke 22:51). Nonetheless, “the Roman cohort and the commander and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him (John 18:1-12).”
-The Lord was led to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest for that particular year. Caiaphas had been the one who advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. This prophetic word was far more apropos than he undoubtedly realized. Of the disciples, Simon Peter and another disciple were following to see what would occur. This other disciple was known to the high priest and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest. However, Peter was left standing at the door outside, but the other disciple was able to get Peter access, and he later came in. There was a certain slave-girl, who kept the door there. Upon seeing him, she exclaimed, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” Peter began to fulfill the Christ’s former words, “I am not (John 14:38).” Further, there were more slaves and the officers standing in the area where Peter was warming themselves by a charcoal fire. It was cold outside in this mountainous city, and they were all warming themselves up. As this was occurring, the high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. Jesus, knowing that He was now on enemy turf, purported, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the Temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.” As Jesus said this, one of the nearby officers struck Him in rebuke, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” Jesus responded, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” After this Annas sent the Lord, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest. Simon Peter was still standing close by warming himself by the fire, and those with him asked, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied a second time, “I am not.” Then a relative of Malchus, whom Peter had attacked earlier by cutting off his ear, noticed this man, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” When Peter denied his Savior a third time just as Jesus had predicted, “immediately a rooster crowed (John 18:13-27).” Though it doesn’t state it in this gospel text, Jesus looked at him, and Peter proceeded to go out in remorse for what he’d done and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75, Luke 22:61-62).
-Jesus was now led from a night of captivity in the house of Caiaphas into the Praetorium on the northeast side of the Temple Mount area. It was early on this Friday morning, which is now known as “Good Friday” by Christians. It is noted that the Jews would not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled and be able to eat the Passover. Because of this, Pilate, the Roman in command of the area, went out to them asking what accusations they brought against this Man. They assured him that this individual was an evildoer; otherwise, they wouldn’t be bothering him at all. Pilate wanted them to take Him and judge Him according to their own Jewish law, but there was a problem. They wanted to put Jesus to death, and for that, they had to get Roman permission. This too was in fulfillment of the prophetic words of the Lord as to how the Christ would die (John 12:32). Romans were notorious for crucifying their dissenters, and the Jewish system would have had Him stoned to death. Now, things were getting serious. Pilate summoned Jesus after entering back into the Praetorium and asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus, still as witty as ever, answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate responded, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus began to teach the man He created, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If My Kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My Kingdom is not of this realm (literally, not from here).” Pilate therefore said, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered him, “You say correctly that I am a King. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears (comprehends) My Voice.” Pilate now ponders an all-time question, “What is truth?” And when he had said this in his mixed-up, cowardly mind, he went out again to the Jews and proclaimed, “I find no guilt in Him.” He then acquiesced to a tradition among this culture of releasing one criminal at the time of Passover. This, he figured, would be his way out since he knew that the Jews were simply envious of this newcomer professing to be the Messiah (Matthew 27:18, Mark 15:10). But, when he asked the crowd who had gathered there if they wished for the King of the Jews to be released, they cried out again, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Barabbas was a thief, an insurrectionist, a murder, and notorious (Matthew 27:16, Mark 15:7, Luke 23:19), but they wanted him excused and Jesus sacrificed (John 18:28-40). This would soon happen as the perfect and divine will of the Father.
-*Application*- Notice how Jesus’ calmness defused a potentially violent situation. Notice too His incredible wisdom in the face of great intimidation and threat. Here was a Man who was in total and absolute control of the situation. In other words, He demonstrated extraordinary peace during conflict. But, what we should grasp most out of this passionate part of the Bible is the willing and sacrificial Servant that Jesus became on our behalf so that we could realize the truth about God’s love for mankind. He truly emptied Himself (Philippians 2:5-8). Thank the Messiah today for His paying the ultimate cost for our redemption. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me (John Newton).”
Verses to Memorize: John 18:36-38