[21]   Death 1: Jewish Trial (18:1-27)

Section E. Death (18:1-19:42)

o        Like the last section (Farewell Discourses), John stresses divine sovereignty over the events that led to crucifixion and death.

 

Explanation

[E1]    18:1-12........... The arrest

The striking omission of the agony in Gethsemane indicates that John was not giving a complete account of all events. As this incident did not suit his purpose of the Gospel, so he omitted it.

18:1     The place was situated at the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives. The garden was no longer there when John wrote this Gospel as a past tense is used.

18:2     Luke tells us that Jesus lodged on the Mount of Olives every night during the passion week (Lk 21:37), probably sleeping in the open air and in this same garden.

18:3     “Detachment” is a technical term for “cohort” which was one tenth of a legion and normally comprised of 600 men. Some people think the word sometimes refers to a third of a cohort or 200 men. It indicates that the Jewish authorities had brought in the Romans. With the soldiers was a group sent from the Sanhedrin. The band was armed and carried lights. They were thus prepared for trouble because there was no need for such a large group to arrest one person.

18:4     It should be noticed that Jesus took the initiative to identify Himself. He was not arrested with force; He gave Himself up.

18:5     His reply of “I am” was again in the style of Deity.

18:6     Jesus’ fearlessness and His dignified reply combined to produce a moment of terror, or perhaps awe. The soldiers retreated and fell to the ground.

18:9     The fulfilment was what Jesus said in Jn 6:39 and it was recorded in the same category as Scripture. In 6:39, the object was spiritual; here, the object was both spiritual and physical. An arrest of the disciples at this moment would have been a very severe test of faith and might have caused spiritual harm.

18:11   In the OT, “cup” is often associated with suffering and the wrath of God (Ps 75:8; Isa 51:17,22; Jer 25:15; Ez 23:31-33).

 

[E2]    18:13-27......... The Jewish trial and Peter’s denials

Jesus was first given an informal examination, and He was later brought before the Sanhedrin for the formal sentence (which was not described in this Gospel).

18:13   Annas had been high priest. In the OT, the high priesthood was for life but the Romans exerted their authority in changing the high priests. However, Annas was a powerful man heading a powerful family. In time, five of his sons and his son-in-law Caiaphas were high priests.

18:15   The other disciple was probably John although some suggested Joseph of Arimathea or Nicodemus. John seemed to have come from a priestly family. The woman, Salome who stood by the cross of Jesus, appears to be John’s mother, as a comparison of Mk 15:40 and Mt 27:56 shows. John does not mention Salome, nor his own mother specifically, but he does speak of the Virgin Mary’s sister (Jn 19:25) in such a way as to lead to the conclusion that she is Salome. Now Mary was related to Elizabeth (Lk 1:36), who is called one of “the daughters of Aaron” (Lk 1:5). Salome thus had priestly connections.

18:16   When Peter stood at the door, the unknown disciple, likely John, had sufficient influence to secure Peter’s admission.

18:17   The first challenge was a simple question from a slave girl: “You aren’t one of the disciples of this man, too, are you?” It suggest a line of escape and Peter simply went along with the statement.

18:20   Jesus used emphatic “I” three times: “I have spoken openly....I always taught....they know what I said.” He took attention away from His followers and fixed it on Himself. He was making the point that the high priest was not proceeding in the correct legal form. It was the high priest’s duty to produce his witnesses.

What Jesus said was that He did not have two kinds of teaching, a harmless one for the general public and a very different one for the secret revolutionaries.

18:22   One of the officials did not like this independent tone and he struck Jesus. He action was a further illegality.

18:23   Again, the stress was on witness (as stressed through the gospel). Jesus demanded that His enemies bear witness.

18:24   John does not say that Jesus was sent to Caiaphas’ house. It is possible that Caiaphas and Annas shared the same palace so Jesus was not moved to another building but simply through the courtyard on the way to where Caiaphas lived.

18:25   Different gospels reported that the second questioner was a different person (“they” in Jn; “a girl” in Mt and Mk; “someone” in Lk). But as a groups of servants were talking informally around a fire in the courtyard, it was almost certain that others would take the question up and asked again, thus it might appear as a question from a group. Again, the question looked for a “no” answer and Peter went along with it.

18:26   The question was related to Malchus, the person who had his ear cut by Peter. But he was not absolutely sure that it was Peter. His question, though, looked for a positive answer. This time, Peter responded with a positive denial.

18:27   The prophecy of 13:38 was fulfilled. John did not describe the effect of the event on Peter (Mt 26:75; Mk 14:72-73; Lk 22:62). Also, except for Pilate’s fear (19:8), no mention is made of people’s emotions throughout chapters 18 and 19. John concentrates on the facts alone.

 

Application

§         The denial by Peter was one of the few events that were recorded in all 4 gospels, thus indicating the importance of the event. It is a warning for us not to deny Christ and deny our beliefs (Mt 10:33; Lk 12:9; 2Ti 2:12) before non-believers. It is also important to note that even a leading disciple could deny Jesus at times, not only once but thrice. But Peter repented and became a leader in the early church. By his example, we should not lose hope because of what we did wrong but should repent. If God accepts Peter, He also will accept us.

 

Hymn

Hymns of Life no.121 “Beneath the cross of Jesus”

Beneath the cross of Jesus

I fain would take my stand

The shadow of a mighty Rock

Within a weary land;

A home within the wilderness,

A rest upon the way,

From the burning of the noontide heat,

And the burden of the day.

Upon the cross of Jesus

Mine eye at times can see

The very dying form of One

Who suffered there for me;

And from my stricken heart with tears

Two wonders I confess –

The wonders of redeeming love

And my unworthiness.

I take, O cross, Thy shadow

For my abiding place;

I ask no other sunshine than

The sunshine of His face;

Content to let the world go by,

To know no gain nor loss;

My sinful self my only shame,

My glory all, the cross.