Read John 18:1-40
1When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.
2Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4Jesus, 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.
6"I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.
7Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?"
And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."
8"I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go." 9This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me."
10Then 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.)
11Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"
12Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.
15Simon 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, 16but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
17"You are not one of his disciples, are you?" the girl at the door asked Peter.
He replied, "I am not."
18It 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.
19Meanwhile, 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. 21Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said."
22When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck 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?" 24Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.
25As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, "You are not one of his disciples, are you?"
He denied it, saying, "I am not."
26One 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 olive grove?" 27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
28Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"
30"If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you."
31Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law."
"But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected. 32This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
33Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
34"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"
35"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"
36Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."
37"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."
38"What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. 39But 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'?"
40They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion. (NIV)
In this chapter, we have the account of the arrest and trial of Jesus as remembered by John. It is interesting that each Gospel writer gives us different pieces of that dreadful night. For John, verses 4-8 are unique to his Gospel. Only he tells of the people coming to react when he says “I am He.” This is a carry over for John of the “I am” passages. “I am” relates back to the answer God gave to Moses when he asked God his name. It is one more time of John pointing to who Jesus was – God himself.
And while the other Gospels tell of the high priest servant having his ear cut off, only John gives us his name, Malchus. And only John tells us that it is Peter who did this act of cutting off the ear. For me, this makes if very personal. Jesus knows our names. We are not random people. Jesus knows us in both our good and bad. And it is because he knows us that he does this great act of giving himself up to be crucified.
Verse 28 is an interesting verse in that this is where John differs from the other Gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke all state that the disciples prepared the Passover meal for the meal prior to Jesus being arrested. But her, John says that the Passover meal has yet to be eaten as the Jewish authorities do not enter Pilate’s palace so that they might not become unclean and unable to eat the Passover meal.
This is a minor discrepancy. The Passover and Jesus giving his life are very connected in our understanding of who Jesus is and what his sacrifice was about. For John, writing so many years after, will have Jesus die on the cross the moment the Passover Lamb is sacrificed in the Temple the morning of the Passover. It is dramatic way of remembering for John.
It is interesting in looking at what the Jews say to Pilate when he asks, “What is his crime?” They are vague. Their hatred of Jesus is so intense, that only his death will seem to satisfy them. This is an anger we still see today in people. They become so angry, they stop listening. Their accusations begin to make sense. But they persist.
Finally, we see that the Roman authorities find no fault in Jesus. This puts the burden back on the Jews. Jesus’ blood is on the hands of the Jewish authorities who want to control what people think and believe. This will be a problem for even the Christian Church in its history. Those who become its leaders sometimes lose sight of whose Church it is. Jesus speaks plainly to Pilate that truth is what is what is most important.
Pilate’s reaction sums up the world view. When he said, “what is truth?” he is pointing that truth is not important, power is important. To me, this is the problem that we see in our political world today. No one wants to seek truth, but only to seek power to force others to act a certain way.
Jesus was always about truth. And we need to see God’s truth which can only be done by listening, asking questions, and be opened to what we hear and see.
And through this whole chapter, we see a Christ who is in control. Christ is always in control even when it looks like the opposite.
As you read through this chapter, what comes to your mind about who Christ is and what he is doing in this moment of his life?
Blessings and Peace