John 18: 1~40 约翰福音 第十八章 第一至第四十节

FINAL WORDS OF JESUS

(Part 6)

John 18:1-40


    In this chapter, the countdown to the cross quickens.  The events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion begin: His arrest, Peter’s denial, and His religious and civil trials.


I.    Jesus’ Arrest (18:1-14)

A.    The Betrayal

  1. While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus and the disciples were confronted by a band of soldiers, accompanied by Pharisees as well as Judas, Jesus’ betrayer.  
  2. We are not told the number of arresting officers and soldiers, but the usual size of a Roman cohort was six hundred men.  This would not seem necessary for arresting one unarmed man and a handful of followers.  Is it possible that the authorities feared that Jesus had a secret army ready to spring to His defense or that others sympathetic to Jesus would come to His aid?
  3. The other Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record that Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, the common gesture of greeting among friends.  John’s is the only Gospel that records that the attack on the servant of the chief priest was carried out by Simon Peter on a man named Malchus (v. 10). Luke records the healing of the man’s wound (Luke 22:51)

B.     Jesus must drink the “cup”

  1. Jesus’ concern for His disciples at the moment of His arrest is evident    (v. 8).  Peter’s effort at defending Jesus was rebuked by Jesus. In spite of Peter’s good intentions, the “cup” that was before Jesus had to be embraced.
  2. The word “cup” is a metaphor for Jesus’ suffering (Mark 10:38-39; Matt. 20:22-23).  It is a metaphor here not for physical death in general but for the particular death which Jesus would suffer.  In the Old Testament, the “cup” was often used for suffering (Psalm 75:8; Ezekiel 23:31-34), as well as the wrath of God (Isaiah 51:17, 22; Jeremiah 25:15; Revelation 14:10; 16:19).

II.    Jesus Before the Jewish Authorities (18:15-27)

 A.    Peter’s First Denial (vv. 15-18)

  1. The two interrogations may have been carried out by the religious authorities to make it seem like Jesus was getting a fair trial.  
  2. Peter’s first denial, all four Gospels report, came as the result of the challenge of a slave girl.  She asked Peter if he was one of the disciples of Jesus, which Peter promptly denied (v. 17).

 B.    Jesus Before the High Priests (vv. 19-24)

1.    Jesus was brought before Annas and Caiphas.  Annas was actually a former high priest, but he conducted the first interrogation before sending Jesus on to Caiphas.

2.    The interrogation of Jesus by Annas and Caiphas brought Jesus’ response that He had taught publicly and that He had taught nothing in private that was not openly said to the crowds.  This brought a blow to His face as if such a reply was improper when answering the high priest (v. 22).  This blow was illegal in such questionings.  Jesus’ reply was the truth, and it should not have been rejected or reacted to with such violence.

3.    Jesus’ appearance before Annas and Caiphas was anything but legal.  John records several of the illegal aspects of Jesus’ religious trial:

    a.    It was held at night.

    b.    Jesus was assumed guilty, and proven guilty.

    c.    The court hired false witnesses to testify against Jesus.

    d.    Jesus was mistreated while bound.

    e.    The authorities did not allow Jesus a defense.

4.    Note that John treated the Jewish trial with great brevity, devoting the majority of his report to the Roman trial.


C.    The Drama of Betrayal (vv. 25-27)

1.    Peter’s second and third denials, followed by the prophesied crow of the rooster, are recorded just before the account of Jesus’ interaction with Pilate (v. 38).  

2.    John’s story reveals two simultaneous plots:

    a.    Peter’s denials

    b.    Jesus’ interrogations and mock trial

3.    Both of those constitute a drama of betrayal: one by the people who should have received Christ as King and one by a person who should have remained loyal to Christ as King.


III.    Jesus’ Civil Trial (18:28-40)


    A.    The Accusation to Pilate (vv. 28-32)

1.    Next the Jewish leaders took Jesus to the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor.  

2.    There is profound irony here.  Their purpose was to have an innocent man put to death; yet they wanted to avoid becoming ceremonially unclean by going into the palace of the Roman governor.


    B.    The Questioning by Pilate (vv. 33-38a)

1.    Pilate’s first question was almost a leading question in order to investigate the nature of the Jewish complaint. Jesus’ answer was disarming, bringing a transplant reply from Pilate about the political tensions that had led Jesus to Pilate.

2.    Speaking in terms Pilate would understand, Jesus admitted being a King, but a King of far more than an earthly, temporal realm.  Many people throughout Christian history have misinterpreted the kingdom of God in earthly terms.

3.    As was His custom, Jesus then turned the discussion toward His mission. He informed Pilate that His kingly role was identified with testifying “to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (v. 37).  Pilate’s response was legendary: “What is truth?” (v. 38).  Was it a serious question or a sarcastic response?  We simply do not know.


    C.    Pilate’s Offer of Release (vv. 38b-40)

1.    Pilate went to the Jews and discussed their charges against Jesus.  He announced that he found Jesus guilty of no crime.  He decided to offer Jesus’ release in celebration of the Passover.  

2.    The Jews, however, demanded the release of Barabbas, a man who was an insurrectionist and a murderer (Luke 23:19).  This was a twist that apparently Pilate did not anticipate.  Honoring the crowd’s choice, he sentenced Jesus to death.



REVIEW QUESTIONS


  1. What did Jesus mean by “drinking the cup”?
  2. Jesus’ religious trial was plagued by many irregularities.  What were these?  Why did the high priests take the steps they did to have Jesus killed?
  3. Pilate’s question, “What is truth”? has been much debated.  Was Pilate being sincere or sarcastic?


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