Reading For Tuesday John 18:1-40

John gives a seemingly small detail about Jesus' movements geographically, however, the Kidron Valley is associated with the betrayal of King David. His own son rebelled against him and he had to evacuate Jerusalem in a hurry, crossing the Kidron Valley (2 Sam. 15:23). John is showing us that the greater King was being betrayed. Jesus initiates the arrest by going to the band of soldiers. Jesus was on a mission and not a victim. Jesus also addresses them as the I am. The mob fell to the ground and Jesus asked them who they were seeking to which they answered Jesus of Nazareth. Peter was ready for a fight and drew a sword taking off the ear of Malchus. Jesus rebukes Peter and tells him in no uncertain terms that he will obey the Father and drink the cup that he has been given. Jesus is arrested and taken to Annas. The questioning begins and Jesus reminds them that nothing has been hidden and they are acquainted with his teaching. 

John weaves the trial of Jesus with the trial of Peter. He deliberately shifts the scene back and forth between what was happening with Jesus in the open courtroom and what was going on with Peter outside in the courtyard. During the "trial", Jesus still showed courage and composure. However, Peter buckled under the small queries of a few uninterested people. This kangaroo court violated many of the established rules and regulations for trying a prisoner. It should not have happened at night, it should not have been a private interrogation, and the case should have been proven by the questioning of witnesses, not the accused. Perhaps the night-time arrest was to avoid the risk of what they thought could be a revolt. They had seen the crowds that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem just five days earlier. They would not risk losing their positions of wealth and prestige. Peter’s denial culminated in a rooster crowing which fulfilled what Jesus said to Peter. Peter’s promises proved empty.

At the hands of the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus is taken to the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor. Jesus had been taken across the city to the governor’s palace, but the Jewish authorities would not go inside the building. They would need to stay outside in the Colonnade area to avoid becoming ceremonially defiled and unable to continue participating in the week-long Passover celebrations. In order to accommodate them, Pilate came outside the building and addressed them in the courtyard. The dramatic irony is that for the Jews to participate in the Passover celebrations, they were actually conspiring to murder the Passover Lamb of God. Jesus makes it abundantly clear that his kingdom is not of this world so there is no imminent threat. But still Pilate doesn’t get it. Christ identifies that a chief characteristic of his kingdom is truth. Even Pilate believed that Jesus was not guilty of any political treason. It had reached such absurdity, that when Pilate offered them a choice between Jesus and another prisoner, they chose a prisoner who was a convicted insurrectionist and rebel. The religious leaders hatred for Jesus prompted the Jewish leaders to request the freedom of someone who had actually been convicted of what they feared Jesus might do. Ultimately, Pilate chose the course of action that would safeguard his own position, even it meant compromising what is right and moral. He listened to the crowd and handed Jesus over to be crucified. Six years after this, a complaint was made against him for the way he dealt with a group of Samaritans. He was recalled to Rome, and then exiled to Gaul, where he committed suicide.

Imagine Barabbas giving an account of this event. He does not seem like a decent man and there is nothing to commend him to us. He was an insurrectionist, a murderer, a troublemaker and yet it would be Barabbas who found himself walking free. Imagine how Barabbas must have felt. He’s been incarcerated hearing the shouts of the crowd: "Crucify him!" Surely he feared the worst, but he emerged to discover that he was being set free. This is the picture of the gospel. Jesus takes the place of someone condemned that they might go free. 

Things To Consider:  

  • Why did Jesus facilitate his own betrayal and arrest?  
  • How do we politicize and try to militarize Jesus?  
  • How do jealousy and pride lead to anger?  
  • How do we deny Christ?  
  • How did Peter's violence come back to him?  
  • How is the Jewish religious leaders hypocrisy shown by their visit to Pilate?  
  • What was Jesus' purpose?