After His prayer of consecration ( Jn 17), and knowing the hour of His sacrifice has come, Jesus travels with his disciples over the Kidron Valley to a place that has become known as the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, Jesus is arrested, having been betrayed by one of His own. He is then taken before Annas and Caiaphas for interrogation. Throughout this time, Peter has been faithfully attempting to follow his Lord. But in the end, he will deny Jesus three times before the rooster crows (see Jn 13:38).
Did You Know...?
1. The Brook Kidron (18:1): Kidron is the name of a valley east of Jerusalem, separating it from the Mt. of Olives. It only carries water in the rainy season, and is hence called a cheimárrous (“winter-flowing”) in the Septuagint and the Gospel of John. [ref]
2. A detachment of troops (18:3) consisted of “a cohort of Roman soldiers. A full cohort was led by a chiliarchos (lit., ‘leader of a thousand,’ rendered ‘tribune’ or ‘commander’) and consisted of one thousand men, though in practice it often numbered only six hundred. The Romans could use surprisingly large numbers of soldiers even for a single person (like the 470 men protecting Paul in Acts 23:23), especially if they feared a riot.” [ref]
3. Officers from the chief priests and Pharisees (18:3) represented the temple police, the primary arresting officers. [ref]
4. “Shall I not drink the cup” (18:11): “Cup” is used figuratively in the Bible to represent sufferings and the outpouring of God’s wrath (cf. Ps. 75:8; Isa. 51:17, 22; Jer. 25:15–17; Ezek. 23:31–34; Hab. 2:16; Rev 14:10, 16:19).
5. Annas (18:13) held the office of high priest from A.D. 6 to 15 and was the father-in-law of Caiaphas. He retained great power even after his removal from office.
What time of day did the arrest of Jesus and hearing by Annas take place?Hide Answer
The fact that the detachment and officers came with lanterns and torches indicates that the arrest and subsequent interrogation took place at night. Other parallel accounts in the Synoptic Gospels also confirm this (cf. Mt 27:1; Mk 15:1). The presence of fire for warming (Jn 18:18, 25) and the mention of the rooster crow following Peter’s denials of Jesus (Jn 18:27) are further clues that the trial by Annas took place in the night.
What does this and the haste with which the hearing was conducted tell you about the nature of the proceedings?Hide Answer
The chief priests sent soldiers to arrest Jesus at night probably to avoid public outrage (cf. Mt 26:3–5; Mk 14:2; Lk 22:2) and to allow the questioning to begin before daytime comes. According to Jewish law, cases are to be tried only in the daytime.11 Hence, Annas’ interrogation of Jesus at night was illegitimate.
What do we learn about Jesus from the way He faced those who came to arrest Him?Hide Answer
The account in this passage portrays Jesus as commanding the entire situation rather than being a helpless victim at the mercy of the soldiers. He initiated the question to His arresters, “Whom are you seeking?” (18:4, 7). His declaration, “I am” (18:5, 6), which echoes the revelation of His divine identity (cf. Jn 8:58), carried such authority and force that it hurled His captors to the ground. He also gave the order that His disciples be let go and instructed Peter to put his sword back into the sheath. These were all extraordinary actions and words that remind us that Jesus was the sovereign Lord.
How does Jesus’ concern for His disciples serve as an example for us?
Judas, a former disciple of Jesus, chose to stand on the side of the soldiers who were arresting Jesus (5). When you have to choose a side, what do you base your choice on?
What do you think Peter was attempting to do?
How did Jesus view the situation differently from Peter?Hide Answer
Whereas Peter viewed the danger as something he must eliminate, Jesus knew that what had befallen Him was according to the will of His Father (11).
What can we learn from this about the sufferings in our lives?Hide Answer
We can see repeatedly in the Gospel according to John that what seems to be the works of human beings or occurrences of nature in fact served God’s higher purpose (e.g. Jn 6:65, 9:1–3, 11:4, 49–51). Even sufferings and the plans of the wicked are within God’s sovereign knowledge and control (cf. Jn 6:70, 71, 12:27, 32, 33, 13:2, 3, 18, 19). Without God’s permission and before God’s time has come, no one could lay his hand on Jesus (Jn 7:30, 8:20, 10:17–18). This important truth reminds us to not only look at the immediate causes of the hardships we undergo, be they natural consequences or the result of man’s doing. If we do, we would always resist them or run from them. Rather, we ought to consider whether God has a higher purpose that He wants us to serve by enduring the sufferings that come our way.
Jesus was arrested and bound by His captors (12). Why was this ironic?Hide Answer
First, Jesus was a man of peace. Never in His ministry did He commit violence or stage a riot. Binding Him was completely unnecessary. Second, His word alone could make the company of armed men fall to the ground (18:6). It would have been impossible for them to bind Him if He did not voluntarily yield Himself to them.
Was Jesus a victim without a choice? What can we learn from Jesus about this?Hide Answer
Obedience to God is actually a choice. When it is God’s will that we should suffer for doing what is right, we ought to submit ourselves to God’s will even if we have a choice not to. For example, when it is to our disadvantage to tell the truth, instead of speaking lies and taking the easy way out, we should still choose to be honest and accept the unpleasant or even painful consequences.
Why do you think the author reminds us of Caiaphas’ prediction (cf. 11:49–52)?Hide Answer
The sufferings that Jesus endured served to fulfill God’s grand purpose of redemption.
Can you relate in any way to Peter’s denial of association with Jesus?
What truth does this teach us about following Jesus?
What was the main point of Jesus’ reply to Annas?Hide Answer
Everything Jesus had said and done, He did so in the light. He had not done anything in secret that Annas had to examine Him about. Jesus’ words further point out the nature of His ministry. Jesus came to reveal the Father, and He had spoken openly to the world. As the light that shines in darkness, Jesus reached out to everyone through His teaching, and everyone has a choice to either come to the light or remain in darkness (Jn 12:44–48).
What does it say about the trial itself?Hide Answer
Jesus’ response exposes the trickery behind the trial. While Jesus had nothing to hide, the interrogation had to be conducted in the dark because of the wickedness of those who plotted to kill Him.
Considering Jesus’ responses to Annas and to the officer who struck Him, how did Jesus stand as faultless before His interrogators?Hide Answer
Neither Annas nor the officer who struck Jesus could produce any true testimony against Jesus. Jesus was completely on the side of truth, whereas His captors could only resort to force. That is why the arrest and interrogation only validated Jesus’ innocence.
What can you learn from Jesus about being treated unjustly?Hide Answer
When we are treated unjustly, it is difficult for us to see beyond the injustice itself as well as the deeds of the wrongdoers. We may even complain to God and question His love or power. But the example of our Lord Jesus has taught us that God may sometimes also place us in a situation where we are treated unfairly because He has a good purpose (Heb 12:3–11). Turning our eyes to the Lord Jesus helps us not to lose heart when injustice seems to rule.
Compare Peter’s denial of Jesus with John 13:37. What is the lesson here?Hide Answer
In our zeal, it is all too easy to overestimate ourselves. It is when we are placed in hardship that we are humbled and we realize how much we need God’s help and mercy. How often have we also disowned the Lord in our own ways when we are under pressure?
The author pays special attention to the rooster’s crow, and adds the word “immediately.” What do you think is his point (cf. Jn 13:38)?