The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!
In John 18, Jesus reaches the divinely appointed hour when the Father allows the Jews and Romans to arrest His Son, and illegally conduct trials against Him. And you will begin to see what it cost God the Father to have you become His child. I honor and glorify the Father and the Son for while I was yet a sinner, Christ died for me, taking upon Himself the punishment I deserved! There was no other way for me to be saved from the wrath of God.
Verse 1-2 — Jesus went to a well-known meeting place, with His disciples. It was a garden known as Gethsemane (named in the other gospels). Judas knew the place, but he was not with them. He had gone to betray Jesus.
IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus never hid from His accusers. His Father had given Him a mission, and He was about to fulfill it.
Verse 3 — Most movies depict this verse with oh, maybe 15 soldiers and some Jews. A Roman cohort is 600 soldiers, called upon by the chief priests and Pharisees to go and arrest Jesus Christ. They went to the garden well-armed. The high priest was with them (see Verse 10), as well as Jewish officers.
IMPORTANT POINT: Though Jesus had walked among them daily, they felt it necessary to use 600 men to arrest Him. They had seen His power, and were afraid of Him. Satan knows His power, too. And Jesus Christ was victorious over him on that cross. Satan still attempts to deceive, but if you know His voice, you are able to discern Satan’s as well.
Verses 4-9 — Jesus knew everything that was coming upon Him. So He went forth to be arrested. He did not run, or hide, or doubt. He simply did what the Father sent Him to do. He asked whom they sought. They said Jesus the Nazarene.
Then Jesus said, “I AM.” And all 600 drew back and fell to the ground, just from the power of His words. Then He said again, whom do you seek? And they said Jesus the Nazarene. And again he said, I told you I AM. Take Me. Let the others go their way (to fulfill John 17:12).
IMPORTANT POINT: The Jews were right. Just saying “I AM” was enough to bowl over 600 soldiers!
Verses 10-11 — Simon Peter drew a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave, Malchus. So Jesus commanded Peter to put the sword into the sheath. Jesus would not refuse the cup the Father had given Him.
IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus knew what He had been sent to do. He didn’t worry or fret. He drank the cup. He died on a cross for your sin and mine. Our sin separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2), but when we confess our sin, turn from it, and receive what Jesus did on that cross, we are saved and reconciled to God the Father.
Verses 12-14 — So the 600 Romans soldiers and the commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus and bound Him and took him to Annas first, because he was related to Caiaphas, the designated high priest. Annas had been high priest before his son-in-law was appointed. He was the one who unknowingly prophesied that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people (John 11:50).
IMPORTANT POINT: Many are eager to kill the followers of Jesus, and do not worry about the legalities of arrest and trial. In the 20th and 21st centuries, more martyrs have died because they would deny Christ than in all previous centuries since the church began.
Verses 15-16 — Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did John (“another disciple” refers to him because the writers of each gospel never wrote of themselves in their accounts). The high priest (Annas) knew John, so John spoke to the doorkeeper so Peter could be brought inside, with John.
Verses 17-18 — The doorkeeper was a slave girl. She believed he was one of Jesus’ disciples, and asked him if he was. He denied it. Then he joined those who were around a charcoal fire, and warmed himself.
Verse 19-21 — Annas questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. But Jesus said, I have spoken openly to the world, and in the Temple and in the synagogues. I spoke nothing in secret. So why do you question Me? Ask those who heard what I spoke. They know what I said. He was stating the facts.
This was an illegal first trial for Jesus. on the night before He was crucified. Jewish law said no one is tried at night, and the accused one has the right to testify on his own behalf. The Jews violated their own law. They were on a mission to kill Jesus, because they were jealous of Him and were offended by what He said about them.
Verses 22-24 — One of the officers struck Jesus. Why? No one questions the high priest. It was considered to be disrespectful. The officer said, “Is that the way you answer the high priest?” Jesus said, if I have spoken wrongly (lied), tell me in what way I lied. But if I did not lie, why do you strike Me? And Annas sent Him on to Caiaphas.
Verses 25-27 —Before following Jesus to Caiaphas, Simon Peter remained at the fire, warming himself. And those around the fire questioned him again. Aren’t you one of His disciples. Peter denied it. And one of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of Malcus, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with Him? Peter denied it again, and a rooster crowed, fulfilling Jesus’ prophetic word to Peter, recorded in Matthew 26:34, Mark 14:30, Luke 22:34, and John 13:38.
Verse 28 — Jesus was led to Caiaphas, and then to the Praetorium (the Roman governor’s courtroom). But the Jewish leaders would not go in, because the Romans were Gentiles. If they went in, they would become defiled and could not eat the Passover meal that night.
IMPORTANT POINT: How ironic! Kill God the Son, the true Passover Lamb who would make death pass over (not affect) all those who believed in Him, but be careful to observe the Mosaic Law so they could eat the Passover seder, which signified death passing over (not affecting) the Jews on the night the Egyptian firstborns died in Egypt. The seder was just a shadow of Jesus Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice, offered on behalf of whosoever would believe in Him.
Verses 29-32 — So, Pilate, the Roman governor, went out to them. What accusation did they bring against Jesus? Their answer? He is an evildoer. Otherwise we would not have brought Him to you. Pilate said, then you deal with Him according to your law.
But the Jews said, we are not permitted to put anyone to death. The illegal trials were not yet completed, but the Jews had already sentenced Jesus to death, before He was tried. It was their plan all along.
But the Jews had a problem. God had allowed the Romans to overrun Judah. Rome was in charge. Roman rule said that those who were Roman captives (as the Jews were) could not execute anyone. At that time, Rome executed criminals by crucifying them.
So the Jews fulfilled Jesus’ prophetic word that He would be “lifted up,” meaning onto a cross (John 3:14, 8:28, 12:32-33, also Matthew 20:19). Jesus knew all of this ahead of time.
Verses 33-34 — Pilate entered the Praetorium, had Jesus brought to him, and began to question Him. Are you the King of the Jews? Jesus answered with a question. Do you say this of your own initiative (from yourself, from knowing that I am), or did others tell you about Me?
IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus was asking whether Pilate himself believed, or was just repeating what the Jews had told him.
Verses 35-36 — Pilate said he wasn’t a Jew. Your own people delivered You to me. What have You done? Jesus answered that His kingdom is not of (derived from or a part of) this world . If they were, His servants would be fighting so He would not be handed over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not of this realm (from here).
IMPORTANT POINT: His kingdom is not of this world. It is not from here. But it will be literally established here (Revelation 21), and is already established in the hearts of believers (Luke 17:21)
Verse 37 — Pilate said, so You are a king? Jesus said, you say that I am a king. I was born for this, and came into the world for this — to testify of the truth. Everyone who is of the truth (willing to receive it) hears My voice.
IMPORTANT POINT: Everything Jesus says is the truth. Not only are His words true, but He speaks the one and only truth. Others may call their beliefs the truth. But Jesus tells us the truth, repeating what He hears God the Father say.
Verse 38 — Pilate, like many in today’s world, say “What is truth?” No one really seems to know. But Jesus Christ is the ultimate truth, the Way to the Father, the Truth, and the Reality. He is real, and His message is true.
And Pilate could not find any guilt in Jesus Christ.
Verses 39-40 — Pilate offered the Roman custom that he release a prisoner at the Passover. Did they wish to release Jesus? No, they wanted to release Barabbas, a robber.
IMPORTANT POINT: You will be arrested, if you are a believer. The legal system will find no guilt in you. But many will want to persecute you (John 15:20), and will also want to kill you. There is a great deal of hatred of Jesus Christ in this world, for exactly the reasons Jesus speaks in John 15:18 and forward.