Category Archives: JOHN 18

The account of the arrest and first trials of Jesus Christ before the Jewish authorities and Pilate.

JOHN 18

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THE FOLLOWING ARE THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 18, VERSES 1 TO 18:


18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples.

18:2 And Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples.

18:3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

18:4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

18:5 They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them.

18:6 As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

18:7 Then asked He them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.

18:8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way:

18:9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which He spake, Of them which Thou gavest Me have I lost none.

18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?

18:12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him,

18:13 And led Him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.

18:14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

18:15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.

18:16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.

18:17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not.

18:18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.

 

18:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples.

When Jesus had spoken these words- in 17:1, “these words spake Jesus” introduce the prayer that follows. Here the prayer is in the past, and the “I come to Thee” of 17:13 is happening.
He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron- note the repetition of “disciples”. “with His disciples…and His disciples”, but they forsake Him in the garden, although John does not record this. He emphasises Christ’s defence of His own, and if he recorded the disciples fleeing it would detract from this.  This brook was a winter-brook, one that only flowed during the winter rains, or after storms. Job likens his friends to brooks that cease when the heat comes, “they go to nothing and perish”, Job 6:14-18. So Christ’s friends disappeared, but they did not perish like Job’s friends, for John quotes the Lord’s own words when He said,“I have lost none”, verse 9. He had said before of His people that “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish”, John 10:28.
David crossed the Kidron (Cedron), when Absalom rebelled against him and Ahithophel betrayed him, 2 Samuel 15,16,17. The traitor psalms, (Psalms 41, 55, 69, 109), are applied to Judas in the New Testament. But David crossed the Kidron brook to flee into the wilderness to escape; Christ to confront and submit and go to Calvary.
Where was a garden, into the which He entered, and His disciples- John does not name the garden, nor does he name the garden where the sepulchre was, 19:41.

18:2 And Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples.

And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples- Gethsemane means “place of olive presses”. The place where the berries were crushed to extract the oil. There is no “crushing” in Gethsemane in John’s gospel, hence no name for the garden which would remind of that. He would retire there when the authorities in Jerusalem oppressed Him, John 8:1. The place of refuge now becomes the place of arrest.

18:3 Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees- putting all the gospels together, the following were present:
1. A great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people, Matthew 26:47.
2. Mark adds “the scribes”, Mark 14:43.
3. The chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders, Luke 22:52.
4. A band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, John 18:3.
5. Judas, Luke 22:47.
6. The servant of the high priest, Malchus, verse 51.
7.A kinsman of Malchus, John 18:26.
Remember that more than twelve legions of angels were waiting for a call that never came, for “how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled?” Matthew 26:53.
Cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons– perhaps domestic lamps and military torches. C.f. Gideon’s torches which caused the enemy to flee, Judges 7:19,20. Here the “enemy” are holding the torches. They are sons of darkness coming to apprehend the Light of the World. But He does not flee.
Judas agreed to betray Him “in the absence of the people”, Luke 22:6, and this is how he did it. “He that doeth evil hateth the light”, John 3:20.
The Lord highlighted the swords (military) and staves, (domestic), with the words, “Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take Me”, Matthew 26:55.

At the arrest of Christ Jewish law was contravened in the following ways:
1. The arrest should have been done voluntarily by those who were witnesses to the crime.
2. It was illegal for the temple guard acting for the High Priest to make the arrest.
3. It was illegal in Jewish law to use force against a suspect.
4. The arrest should not have been at night, and constituted an act of violence. This is why the disciples were preparing to prevent it. Malchus was probably one of those foremost in the arrest. If Peter had been preventing a legal arrest, he should have been arrested. The fact he was not, showed the authorities knew they were in the wrong.
5. The prisoner was bound, which was unnecessary violence, since He was surrounded by only a few men, and the arrest party consisted of many.
6. The prisoner was taken to Annas first, but he was not the proper magistrate.
7. He was interrogated at night, which was prohibited by law.
8. He was detained in a private house.
9. He was struck gratuitously before any charges had been brought, John 18:22.

18:4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him- in response to His knowledge of the Father’s will.
Went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? In response to the arrival of the arrest party. The good shepherd not only goes before to lead, but also to protect the sheep. The enemies of the sheep have to confront the shepherd first. He went forth to meet them, taking the initiative. There is no mention of Judas’ actions, which have taken place before this point. The emphasis is on the love and care of the shepherd, not the treachery and hostility of Judas. He takes the initiative, asking whom they sought, so they did not arrest anyone else by mistake in the semi-darkness.

18:5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.

They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He- the blind man said this, John 9:9 and no-one thought he was claiming Deity. So it must be that the expression is not actually a claim, but reminds them of His claims to Deity, such as, “Before Abraham was, I am”, John 8:58. They took up stones to stone Him then, but now they are determined to see Him crucified. How remarkable it is that Jesus of Nazareth is the great “I am”! This tells of His Deity. How remarkable also that the great “I am” should answer to the name of Jesus of Nazareth! This tells of His humility.
And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them- he has done his wretched work, and now stands back with his new-found accomplices. He prefers their company to that of the Son of God, and thus Judas is shown up as being an unbeliever. Yet Stephen accuses the nation of being the betrayers of Christ, Acts 7:52. Stephen stood for Christ on earth, and Christ stood to receive him into heaven, verse 56.

18:6 As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

As soon then as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground- they took steps backward, reversing momentarily their plans, and then fell to the ground, illustrating what God’s plan is. They involuntarily do what they will do before Christ at the Great White Throne, for unto Him every knee shall bow, Philippians 2:10, not only because of what He did when He became man, but also because of His Deity, for Isaiah 45:22,23 is written of God, that to Him every knee shall bow, but the apostle paul applied it to Christ.

18:7 Then asked He them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.

Then asked He them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth- having shown that He has power in Himself to resist arrest, He now submits to it as His Father’s will, and not as the will of men, thus highlighting that “He is led as a sheep to the slaughter”, Acts 8:32, not resisting at all. They have learnt that they are not in control. They may take Him, but He is delivered by “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God”, Acts 2:23.

18:8 Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way:

Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He- He is in control here, and rebukes them for asking the question again, when He has already given the answer. One Man is holding a multitude at bay by His word, before submissively allowing them to take Him.
If therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way- having established that they have only come for Him, then, and not before, He requires that the disciples be allowed to go. They cannot refuse this without denying what they have said. He has put them into a position where they cannot refuse to let the disciples go.

18:9 That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

That the saying might be fulfilled, which He spake, Of them which thou gavest Me have I lost none- this is His testimony to His Father in 17:12. There is no mention of Judas here, as there was in John 17:12, for he has now clearly sided with the enemy, and has placed himself out of the range of Christ’s protection as Good Shepherd. This statement shows that our Shepherd is concerned about our physical welfare and safety, as well as our spiritual good.

18:10 Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear- the servant’s name was Malchus. This had repercussions in a two-fold way later. First, this incident drew attention to Peter, and so a relative of Malchus, who was in the garden, accused him of being a disciple, and this resulted in the third of his denials, John 18:26,27. Perhaps this is why John is the only one to name Peter as the one with the sword, so as to make his account of Peter’s denial intelligible. Only Luke records the healing of the ear.
Peter’s action also gave the Lord the opportunity to show Pilate that His kingdom was not of this world. What earthly king rebukes his followers for fighting, and heals one of the enemy’s soldiers? See John 18:36.
John does not record the healing of the ear, to preserve the climax of the raising of Lazarus. He was given works to finish, or “that I should perfect them”. To raise a corrupting body from the grave was the great climax to His miracle-ministry. To record the healing of an ear in the context of John’s gospel would be an anti-climax.

18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?

Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath- it is noticeable that the Lord rebuked Peter for seeking to prevent His arrest, but the soldiers do not arrest him for the injury to Malchus. They know they are acting illegally. Peter on a human level was justified in seeking to prevent an injustice. The Lord had sanctioned the carrying of a sword when engaged in the work of God, in self-defence, Luke 22:35-38.
The cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it? the Lord was acting on a higher level than human justice. Note the difference between these words and “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me”, Matthew 26:39. The conflict in Gethsemane is over, and the Saviour is resolved to drink the cup of suffering and wrath.

18:12 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him,

Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him- this was another illegality, to bind an uncharged suspect. When men came to arrest Elijah, he brought down fire from heaven and consumed the first two arrest parties, and no doubt would have done the same to the third had not the angel intervened, 2 Kings 1:9-15. James and John referred to this as a reason to judge the Samaritans, but the rebuke was “The Son of Man came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them”, Luke 9:54-56.
The following rules applied in Jewish law:
1. The arrest should have been done voluntarily by those who were witnesses to the crime.
2. It was illegal for the temple guard acting for the High Priest to make the arrest.
3. It was illegal in Jewish law to use force against a suspect.
4. The arrest should not have been at night, and constituted an act of violence. This is why the disciples were preparing to prevent it.
5. Trials for life should not be conducted at night.

18:13 And led Him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.

And led Him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year- we may compare this with the incident in John 7:45 where the chief priests say, ‘Why have ye not brought Him”‘. Then, His hour had not yet come, but now it has. The House of Annas were known as “the whisperers”, and the Jewish Talmud said they hissed like vipers. They exerted their influence on the judges, “whereby rivals were corrupted, judgement perverted, and the Shekinah withdrawn”. The Shekinah was the Jewish name for the glory of God. Christ is the brightness of the glory, Hebrews 1:3, and He was withdrawn from the nation by God, being rejected by the High Priests. They of all people should have appreciated the glory of God in Christ.
Note the way the glory of the Lord departed in Ezekiel’s day; out from the temple and then hovering over the city, then departing via the mount of Olives, where it will return one day. Ezekiel 10:4,18,19; 11:23. C.f. Matthew 23:38,39; 24:1; Acts 1:9-12; Zechariah 14:4,5.

18:14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people- this refers to John 11:49-54, where we read, “And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him to death”.

Caiaphas is clearly not an unbiased judge, for he is of the opinion that one man should die, if that avoids the nation perishing. This is further evidence of the illegality of the trial. He had made his mind up already, and had gone further and made it public.
The fact that John mentions this, as well as saying in verse 24 that Annas had sent Christ bound to Caiaphas, suggests that “the high priest” of the following narrative is Caiaphas, and that the Lord was taken first of all to Annas, but not to be formally interrogated. It shows the influence Annas still had.
In Acts 4:6 it is Annas who is called the high priest, and Caiaphas, whilst present, was simply named.

18:15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.

Peter was willing to follow the Lord to death, 13:37, but was told he could not follow to death then, but would do so afterwards. This incident shows the Lord knew his heart, for he followed, but not anywhere near to death, for he fled. He did follow to death afterwards, as John 21:18,19 shows. It is said that he was crucified upside-down.
The people of Israel had to keep a distance between themselves and the ark, so it passed through the Jordan alone, Joshua 3:4. We must keep what Christ did at Calvary distinct, for it was unique.

18:16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.

John believes that Peter can stand against temptation, but it is not so.  John proves that it is possible to not deny the Lord in that situation. John writes of things he witnesses himself, so it is important for him to be present at the trial. He does not write of things he was not present at, even though the other gospel writers do.

18:17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not.

This is the first of the three denials. Here Peter denies that he is a disciple. Notice how John interweaves the denials of Peter with the trial of Christ. The latter overcame, but Peter succumbed in his lesser trial. Similarly, the Lord went and prayed three times in the garden, and overcame each time.

18:18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.

Peter had to repeat this situation in John 21, but then the fire of coals was lit by the Lord, and he warmed himself in the company of the apostles. The three denials are cancelled by the three affirmations of his love. He appeals to the Lord’s knowledge of his heart, for he denied contrary to his true feelings. As a result, he can, with clear conscience, later accuse Israel of denying Christ, Acts 3:13,14. They denied him with intent.

John uses several phrases to describe conditions. Here, “it was cold”, for Peter was growing cold in heart; in 13:30, “it was night”, as there was in Judas’ heart; in 18:28, “it was early”, for men’s hearts hastened to condemn Him. Mary Magdalene came early to the sepulchre, while it was dark, 20:1, but her heart was warmed towards Christ, and she did not mind the cold or the dark.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 18, VERSES 19 TO 32:

18:19 The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples, and of His doctrine.

18:20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.

18:21 Why askest thou Me? ask them which heard Me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.

18:22 And when He had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest Thou the high priest so?

18:23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou Me?

18:24 Now Annas had sent Him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.

18:25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of His disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.

18:26 One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with Him?

18:27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

18:28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

18:29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?

18:30 They answered and said unto him, If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee.

18:31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:

18:32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which He spake, signifying what death He should die.

18:19 The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples, and of His doctrine.

Presumably, in view of what John tells us in verse 24, the high priest here is Caiaphas, described by John as “high priest that year”, John 11:51. Notice the Lord ignores the question about the disciples, for He will defend them to the end, as the Good Shepherd.

18:20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.

The Lord was always in control during His trials, yet never acted rudely. “When He suffered, He threatened not”, 1 Peter 2:23.
He states the fact that He had spoken openly. This was a rebuke to Annas, (who was very possibly present, since Peter links all those named as rulers together in Acts 4:8), and also to Caiaphas, for they are guilty of not listening to the Son of God. “In secret I have said nothing” is a stronger personal rebuke to Annas, for he was known by the Jews as “the whisperer”, noted for his underhanded dealings.

18:21 Why askest thou Me? ask them which heard Me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.

It was forbidden in Jewish law to try to get the accused to incriminate himself, hence the implied rebuke for asking Him. The Lord appeals to those who could bear witness, and implies that the high priest should have been bringing them forward to bear testimony. This is a rebuke for his false dealings.

18:22 And when He had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest Thou the high priest so?

18:23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou Me?

The prisoner was within His rights to protest at the illegality of the proceedings. Paul protested at his illegal treatment, so that others would benefit, Acts 16:37. The Lord will not allow unrighteousness. He is “the Just One, of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers”, Acts 7:52, (said to the high priest, verse 1).
That the action of striking Him was illegal is seen in the absence of any response to Christ’s protest, for they had a guilty conscience.

18:24 Now Annas had sent Him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.

Why does John reserve this for this point? It may be that Annas lived in the same palace as Caiaphas, and John is preparing us for the possibility that when the Lord was being taken from Caiaphas to Pilate, it was then “He turned, and looked upon Peter”, Luke 22:61.

18:25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of His disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.

Note Peter’s denials are either side of Christ’s faithful testimony, as if to contrast them. They also coincide with the denials on the part of the Jews. Notice that these here, and the servant of the next verse do not need to specify of whom they speak.  The prisoner is well-known.

18:26 One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with Him?

This is a more dangerous question, especially from one related to Malchus, who was probably one of the chief priest’s bodyguards, and therefore not present around the fire.

18:27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

We see from Mark 13:35 that the night was divided into watches, and one of them was called “the cock-crowing”. It was the last watch before dawn. The Jews divided the day and the night into 12 hours each, irrespective of the length of time between sunrise and sunset. So in summer the hours were longer, and in winter, shorter. The night was divided into three watches by the Jews, (the Romans had four night-watches), and these were of four hours each, with the length of the hours varying according to the time of year. The first watch was from sunset, “the evening”; the second was either side of midnight, “midnight”, and the third, “cock-crowing”, was until dawn.
The Lord’s warnings to Peter are as follows:
“That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice”, Matthew 26:34.
“That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice”, Mark 14:30.
“I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest Me”, Luke 22:34.
“The cock shall not crow, till thou shalt deny Me thrice”, John 13:8.
Notice that in Matthew and Mark there is a prophecy of what will happen, “before the cock crow thou shalt deny Me”. In Luke and John there is the thought of the authority of Christ, “the cock shall not crow, before…” Christ was in control of the timing of the crowing of the cock. We know from Mark 14:68,72 that there were two cock crows. Peter had gone out into the porch to escape the questioning, and was met by the crowing of the cock outside. This was a warning from Christ, but Peter went on to deny twice more. The first cock crow was not the one used to mark the cock-crow watch, and so does not contradict the prediction that he would deny three times before the cock crowed.
Cockerels crow to establish their order in the hierarchy, so the first cock was the senior, chief cock. Was this a reminder to Peter that he was the leader of the apostles, being described as “the first” in Matthew 10:2?
It is important to notice that the Lord said Peter would deny he knew Him. He would not deny the truth of His person, His Deity, etc., but just that he knew Him. In contrast, the Jewish authorities denied Him in the sense that they rejected His claims to be Son of God and Messiah, Acts 3:13,14.

18:28 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the Hall of Judgement: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the Judgement Hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover.

Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the Hall of Judgement- this is Pilate’s residence. This is the third place the Lord has been taken. First to Annas, verse 13, then to Caiaphas, verse 24, and now to Pilate. Isaiah prophesied He would be “taken from prison and from judgement”, Isaiah 53:8.
And it was early- this indicates their state of heart, wishing to get the matter over quickly before the people had time to protest. The previous examinations must have been at night, which was illegal, especially when the accused is on a charge which carried the death penalty.
There is also the fact that for trials for life, as this one was, the judges must give their verdict before they had eaten or drunk. They must not be sluggish through over-indulgence, or muddled through strong drink. Sadly, they abide by this rule only so that they get the verdict they are looking for, and not through any sense of justice.
And they themselves went not into the Judgment Hall, lest they should be defiled- they refused to enter into the Gentile’s palace because they would be in a place where there might be unleavened bread. They are particular about the niceties of their religion, but indifferent to the fact that Christ is the “True bread”.
But that they might eat the Passover- this does not mean that the Passover feast had not been eaten.
The gospel writers describe the feast of the Passover as follows:
Matthew 26:17- “Now the first day of the feast of Unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus and said unto Him, ‘Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?’”.
Mark 14:1- “And the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover”.
Luke 22:1 “Now the feast of Unleavened Bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover”.

This last reference shows that the expression “Passover” can mean the whole week of Unleavened Bread. Certainly the Lord had eaten the Passover meal the evening before, and He would have obeyed the instruction, “they shall eat the flesh in that night”, and “ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning”, Exodus 12:8,10. The Hebrew day had two evenings, the first was when the sun touched the horizon, and the second was when it completely disappeared. It was between those two points that the Passover lamb was to be killed. “the whole congregation of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening”, Exodus 12:6.
The Passover was to be eaten that night, and nothing left till the morning. Hence in Deuteronomy 16:6 the instruction is to eat the Passover “at the going down of the sun”, and “at the season thou camest forth out of Egypt”. Then they were told to “turn in in the morning, and go unto thy tents”, verse 7. Far from doing this, the chief priests had turned out in the morning, in order to condemn the True Passover Lamb.
The word Passover is used also of the festive offerings during the seven days of unleavened bread, for this festival followed straight after the Passover day, and is actually called the Passover in Luke 22:1, as we have seen. So the priests are concerned that by going to the house of a Gentile they will be defiled, and unable to keep the feast of unleavened bread. This point about the Passover being ongoing is confirmed by Pilate’s words in John 18:39, “release unto you one at the Passover”, so it was ongoing even then.

18:29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?

Pilate then went out unto them, and said- he has no choice but to go out of his palace and meet them outside. He cannot allow an uproar, especially at a feast, for his position, or even his life, might be in danger when Caesar discovers the situation.
What accusation bring ye against this man? The Jews had condemned Christ for claiming to be the Son of God, Matthew 26:63-66, but they know this will carry no weight with Pilate, for he will not be interested in theological questions. He held the Jews in contempt. They are about to bring a charge that will interest Pilate, but they hesitate, seeing if they can get him to condemn Christ without them being involved.

18:30 They answered and said unto him, If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee.

This is sheer evasion, for they are determined to see Christ killed, but know they have not the power to do it. The authority to execute capital punishment was taken away from the Jews several years previous to this.

18:31 Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto Him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:

Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law- this is the first of the several attempts that Pilate made to rid himself of the responsibility of judging Christ. God saw to it that he did have dealings with Him, for it was God’s will that both Jew and Gentile should have responsibility for the death of Christ. As Peter said, “ye (Jews) by wicked hands (the hands of lawless Gentiles) have taken, and crucified (the Gentile mode of execution) and slain (the wish of the Jews fulfilled)”, Acts 2:23. On very rare occasions crucified people survived, but they crucified Him until He was dead. And yet no man took His life from Him, but He laid it down of Himself, John 10:18.
The Jews therefore said unto Him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death- if the Jews judged according to their law, and stoned Him, (as they stoned Stephen a little while later, even though they had not the power to put to death), then His bones would have been broken, and so Scripture would not have been fulfilled, John 19:36.

18:32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which He spake, signifying what death He should die.

That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled- it is not the saying of Caiaphas in John 11:50 that it was expedient for them that one man should die for the nation that is to be fulfilled,.
Which He spake, signifying what death He should die- the saying of Christ when He said that He would be lifted up, John 12:33, “this He said, signifying what death He should die”, 12:33. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up”, 3:14. The word for pole that the brazen serpent was put on, comes from the word “to lift up”. So the mode of Christ’s death was prefigured centuries before it happened.

THE FOLLOWING ARE THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, CHAPTER 18, VERSES 32 TO 40:

18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews?

18:34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?

18:35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me: what hast Thou done?

18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence.

18:37 Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.

18:38 Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in Him no fault at all.

18:39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

18:40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgement hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

Then Pilate entered into the judgement hall again- Pilate had entered the judgement hall in verse 28, but then went out to them to ascertain the charge they brought against Christ, and now he is re-entering the judgement hall.
And called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art thou the King of the Jews? To call Jesus would mean to summon Him for formal examination in a law-situation. The question of Pilate shows that John has omitted the trial before the Sanhedrin recorded in Matthew 26:57-67.

18:34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?

Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself- before answering the question, the Lord establishes the motive behind it. Pilate is finding that he is the one being questioned now. In His responses, the Lord reveals the characteristics of His kingdom. Christ’s kingdom is a righteous kingdom, and justice prevails there.
If Pilate was saying this of himself, it meant that he had not investigated the matter himself before accepting that it was a valid charge for anyone to make.
Or did others tell it thee of Me? This question is designed to point out that the Jews switched charges, and hence are acting illegally. He, the Just One, is establishing this was done unjustly.
This is not an evasion on the part of the Lord. He will state directly in verse 37 that He is a king, but He is making sure that all concerned know the facts of the case, and do not make decisions based on rumour and innuendo.
The question also aims to establish what Pilate means by “King of the Jews”. Is he using it as a Roman would, or as a Jew would?

18:35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me: what hast Thou done?

Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? This is the first of three questions, and is a semi-sarcastic jibe at the oddities, (in his Roman view of things), of the Jewish culture. It tells us he is not looking at things dispassionately, but in a prejudiced way. Christ’s kingdom will not be limited to Israel, so whether Pilate, a Roman, could understand was irrelevant.
Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me- this was only half-true, as the nation had welcomed Him as He rode into Jerusalem as King, John 12:12-15. It was the chief priests who had delivered Him for envy. His kingdom will be welcomed when he comes to reign, and they will say, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord”, Psalm 118:26.
What hast Thou done? This suggests that Pilate thought He may have been the ring-leader in some trouble-making. That this is not the case is seen in the Lord’s reference to what had happened in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before.

18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence.

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world- these words must have been strange and troubling to Pilate. The Lord readily admits that He is a king, but not of the sort Pilate was used to. He was soon to be made friends with Herod, and he was the sort of king Pilate knew. Pilate was not familiar with the idea of a kingdom originating from any other place than earth. Pilate is being assured that His kingdom is not to be set up in rivalry to Caesar, although one day this kingdom will displace all Gentile kingdoms, Daniel 2.
If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews- earthly kingdoms are established and increased by means of the armies they deploy. The fact that Christ’s kingdom is not of this sort is seen in that the servants of this king are not organised into an army. The sense of the verb “fight” is “keep on fighting”, a reference no doubt to the fact that Peter had put up some sort of resistance in Gethsemane when the arrest party came. But Pilate must have known that Christ rebuked Peter for this, and even went to far as to ask permission to heal Malchus, (“Suffer ye thus far”, Luke 22:51). What king rebukes His subjects for fighting, and then heals the wounds of a soldier of the opposing army? This king, and His kingdom, must be of a different sort.
But now is My kingdom not from hence- these words might be misunderstood to mean that this king had suddenly changed tactic under pressure from Pilate, and was now resolved to employ different methods to gain His objective. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The “but now” must be linked with the “if” near the beginning of verse 36. There is a conditional statement beginning with “if”, which sets out a possible situation, namely, that His kingdom was of this world. But this is immediately rejected with the words “but now”. In other words, His kingdom is of another sort all along, and the possible scenario beginning with “if” must be rejected. Note the three-fold mention of His kingdom in this verse, showing He is definite in His assertion about it.

18:37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art Thou a king then? Pilate’s response was to ask again, pointedly, whether He was a king. Tthe Lord is now prepared to answer the question directly, because He has established that: (a) He is not a troublemaker. (b) that His is not a rival kingdom to Caesar’s; (c) that the charges Pilate is bringing have not been properly investigated by Pilate.
Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king- this is not an evasive reply. Nor does it indicate that Christ is a king only in the minds of those who believe it, with His kingship not relevant to the rest of men. Rather, this is the formal way a polite Jew will answer a direct question. It is the same as saying “Yes”, but the Lord is using the Rabbinical formula for answers to direct questions. Courtesy forbids a direct yes or no, but it is a direct answer.
We see this same response when Judas asked, “Master, is it I”, and the reply came, “Thou hast said”, Matthew 26:25. So also in Luke 22:70,71, where the question of the high priest as to whether Christ is the Son of God is answered by the words “”Ye say that I am”. If this was prevarication, the question would have been asked again. As it is, the response of the chief priest was to declare that no more witnesses were needed, “for we ourselves have heard of His own mouth”. He knew full well what the answer had meant. Mark, with characteristic brevity, gives the Lord’s answer as simply “I am”, the last words of the reply in Luke. It is still the case, however, that the courteous formula is used, and not a direct “Yes”.
To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth- the Lord connects His birth and His entrance onto the public stage, not to suggest that His kingdom was established by those events, but to make the point that His first coming was so He could bear witness of the truth, to give men the opportunity of believing and being born again, and thus enter the kingdom of God in its present form.
Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice- this is a direct appeal to Pilate, encouraging him to believe, and thus avoid the shame of condemning Him falsely, contrary to the truth. His kingdom is based on truth, not deceit and lies like the kingdoms of men, and His kingdom consists of loyal subjects, who love the truth.
No wonder Pilate is baffled, for the word of a Galilean carpenter seems to be more believable that the word of the Jewish authorities.
The character of the subjects of Christ’s kingdom is seen in the phrase “hear My voice”, for that is what His sheep do, 10:27, words spoken in Solomon’s Porch, the place where the king sat to judge.
God’s ideal king is a shepherd-king.

18:38 Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in Him no fault at all.

Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth? How could he decide these opposing assertions? The fact is, that the answer to his problem had just been given to him. “He that is of the truth heareth My voice”. The genuine seeker after the truth will come to the genuine imparter of truth. So it is that in His conversation with Pilate, (the wearer of the Imperial Purple on behalf of Rome), Christ displays the superior purple of the eternal and heavenly kingdom, which He will one day set up on earth, but which His born-again people have already entered, John 3:3,5; Colossians 1:13. These features of His kingdom tell us of the character of His kingship. There is no response to this question, for the answer has already been given to him.
And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in Him no fault at all- when he went out before, it was to ask what the accusation was, “What accusation?”, verse 29, but now he has concluded that the prisoner is not guilty. “I find in Him no fault all” is a legal pronouncement, indicating that he considers, as the representative of Caesar, that there is no legal ground for punishing Him. Thus it stands recorded that Christ was crucified illegally.

18:39 But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?

But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover- Pilate should not have appealed to custom to allow him to avoid condemning the innocent Christ. If there was no fault he should have let Him go regardless of the opinions of the Jews. This is expediency and cowardice, not justice.
Will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? He hopes they will agree, so that he can escape his dilemma, and the Jews can be pacified.
By calling Him King of the Jews he is either putting pressure on them to think again, or is being sarcastic, holding them in contempt for having a carpenter as their king.

18:40 Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas- so Pilate sentenced Him illegally, and the Jews rejected Him unjustly, for guilty Barabbas is to go free in exchange for the innocent Christ of God. This is how low the administration of justice can sink when the aim is to reject God and His Christ. The kings of the earth and its rulers conspire together to cast Christ out, Acts 4:25-28.
Rule No. 12 of the Roman justice system stated, “The idle clamour of the populace is not to be regarded, when they call for a guilty man to be acquitted, or an innocent one to be condemned”. Pilate was allowing both things to happen at once!
Now Barabbas was a robber- so men preferred the one who came “to steal, to kill, and to destroy”, to the one who came to give life, and to give it more abundantly, John 10:10.
Barabbas displayed the features the carnal Jews expected to find in their Messiah, so it is appropriate that they should ask for his release immediately after the conversation with Pilate about the nature of His kingship.