John 18 (NRSV)
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered.
2Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.
4Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”
5They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground.
7Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”
And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
8Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.”
In Eden it was beautiful and perfect. In Gethsemane it was dark and foreboding.
In Eden Adam and Eve consorted with the enemy, Satan. In Gethsemane Jesus sought his Father in prayer.
In Eden humanity first sinned. In Gethsemane Jesus agonized, suffering for that sin.
In Eden Adam and Eve fell before Satan. In Gethsemane the soldiers fell before Christ.
In Eden Adam was defeated when he yielded to temptation. In Gethsemane Christ conquered when he yielded to the will of God.
10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus.
11Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
Jesus before the High Priest
12So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. 13First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.
from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw
CAN MAN SEIZE GOD?
On the night of Jesus’ arrest, what was it that bound the Lord to those Roman soldiers? Surely the ropes and cords were not strong enough to hold the Creator of the universe. If Sampson could break the ropes of the Philistines, certainly the Son of God could do the same. No, Christ was not bound by the soldiers; he was bound by his own compassionate, divine, loving heart that caused him to give himself to them. It was Christ’s love for you and me that caused him to go with those soldiers who eventually nailed his body to the cross.
Can man seize God? Never! God gave himself away that night. Jesus was in perfect control all throughout his arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
God will never let you get into a situation in which he is not in perfect control. When you find yourself in circumstances that seem to be full of chaos and confusion, look to Christ. If you belong to him, you will find him there in perfect control of your situation.
It was Jesus, the One in whom all things exist, who sustained the Roman soldier’s life while he roughly placed the Son of God on the cross, and it was Jesus who gave that soldier the physical strength to drive the spikes into his hands.
14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.
Peter Denies Jesus
How is it, Lord, that we are cowards in everything save in opposing Thee?
- Teresa of Avila
15Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in.
17The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?”
He said, “I am not.”
18Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.
The High Priest Questions Jesus
19Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.”
22When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?”
23Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” 24Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
In saying this, Jesus wasn’t being uncooperative, only asserting His legal right. There was to be no formal charge until witnesses had been heard and been found to be truthful. And there is the problem, since it was the High Priest’s duty to call forth the witnesses first, beginning with those for the defense. These basic legal protections for the accused under Jewish law were not observed in the trial of Jesus.
Peter Denies Jesus Again
25Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?”
He denied it and said, “I am not.”
26One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?”
27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
Jesus before Pilate
28Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?”
30They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.”
31Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.”
The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” 32(This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)
The Jews would have killed him by stoning; Jesus said he would be “lifted up” on a cross.
33Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”
35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?”
36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
Augustine observed from this verse that earthly kingdoms are based upon force, pride, the love of human praise, the desire for domination, and self interest — all displayed by Pilate and the Roman Empire.
The heavenly kingdom, exemplified by Jesus and the cross, is based on love, sacrifice, humility, and righteousness.
37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
38Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”
Jesus Sentenced to Death
After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. 39But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?”
40They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.
One of the most poignant, moving hymns ever written. Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, 1707. Charles Wesley reportedly said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one. Sung here by Kathryn Scott. I ask you to pray this hymn, not just listen.
1) “What is truth?” Suppose Pilate asked you the same question he asked of Jesus — how would you answer it?
2) Are you seeing more of what it cost Christ to be your Savior?
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.