1 When Jesus had spoken these words,
The high priestly prayer of ch. 17.
He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. 2 And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples.
Real estate inside the city
can relate to that here in
The median price of a home according to an article in the LA Times today - $618,000!  That’s up 18.6% from last year.
The walls of the City were built many years before, and as the city grew, it filled in all the available space.
There was no room for such extravagances as gardens.
So the wealthy had little plots of land on the hillsides surrounding the city where they would plant shade trees & have a place to retreat to the cool during the hot season of the year.
These gardens weren’t like the flowers gardens we’re familiar with – they had shade trees; often trees that doubled to provide some extra income, like olives or fruit.
One of these gardens was a favorite retreat of Jesus’ where He would often meet the disciples.
So the group made its way out of the room where they’d celebrated the Passover, exited the City through one of the eastern gates, followed the path down into the valley & crossed over the stream called Kidron.
Kidron means “turbid/murky.” It’s called this because it only flows when there are rains.
Underground reservoirs further north fill up with rain water then overflow in a stream that runs through the valley there.
Because the stream is erratic, when it does flow, it’s filled with sediment & looks murky.
But as Jesus crossed it that evening, there may very well have been something else flowing in the stream bed, something highly symbolic of the mission He was there to perform.
This was the Passover, & thousands of lambs were being slaughtered by the priests on the temple mount not too far away.
years after this Josephus tells us the Roman governor was trying to explain to
his superiors in
Since the Jews refuse to take a census of themselves, they counted the sheep sacrificed at Passover.
The number was 256,000! According to the guidelines of that time, one sheep was for 10 people – meaning there was around 2.5 million people there to celebrate Passover.
Jewish rules regarding sacrifice demanded the offering be thoroughly bleed, which meant the blood of 256,000 sheep had to go somewhere.
That somewhere was the Kidron.
So as Jesus & the disciples crossed the brook, they’d be stepping over the blood of the Passover sacrifices.
The other Gospels tell us the
garden where Jesus led the disciples was called
The main use of olives was not as a salad garnish or pizza topping; they were used for oil.
There was a working oil press in that garden where people brought their olives.
3 Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
These would be the Jewish
police; a group of offices authorized by the Jewish Sanhedrin to keep order in
The word “detachment” refers to a sizeable group.
This isn’t a troop or squad; it’s at least 200 armed men, some commentators say it could be a cohort – 1/10th of a legion – 600!
Given the time of night, it’s probably safer to see a force of about 200.
They come out fully armed & ready for battle – not knowing how Jesus’ followers will react when they arrest Him & haul Him away.
4 Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
John passes over the time Jesus pent in prayer in the Garden prior to the arrest.
He knows the other gospels tell that story. His aim is to fill in the details they left out.
Jesus had complete mastery of the situation & knew the time had come for Him to be arrested, so He presents Himself & challenges them with a boldly stated question – “Who are you looking for?”
He wants them to identify it’s He they’re after.
Once they do, then He can point out they AREN’T after the disciples.
5 They answered Him, “Jesus of
Notice that the word “He” is in italics. That means it’s not in the original Greek text; it’s added by the English translators to aid in interpretation.
In this case – it obscures, not clarifies the text.
And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.
The other gospels tell us it was just prior to this that Judas stepped forward to signal the officers that this was indeed the one they were after.
That Judas had to point Jesus out proves there was nothing remarkable or unique in His appearance.
6 Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Jesus used the name of the Covenant God of Israel – I AM; Jehovah, Yahweh.
And at the simple announcement of His holy name, the entire detachment staggered backward & fell down as though knocked over by a strong blast of wind.
Now, at that point, if I were in the crowd, the wise move would seem to be to split.
But with a group of 200 of your peers, you tend to not want to run away like a scared little girl, so you stay against your better judgment.
7 Then He asked them again, “Whom are you seeking?” And they said, “Jesus of
But Peter, God bless him, sees this as a ripe opportunity to follow through on his earlier promise to stick with Jesus no matter what.
10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword,
Hummm, wonder where he got that.
drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
Peter was no soldier & didn’t really know how to wield a sword in battle.
You don’t aim for the head, you aim at the mid-section.
But Peter just starts swinging & Malchus, seeing the sword flying ducks too late; the sword catches his ear & it goes flying.
If you’ve ever had a cut in that area, specially within the scalp line, you know they tend to bleed like mad.
So now blood is pouring out of the side of Malchus’ head & the officers are getting all set for armed conflict.
Those of you who are peace officers – what do you do if during an arrest a suspect pulls out a gun or lifts a weapon?
It gets very serious, very quick!
11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”
In the immediate super tension of the Jewish police squaring off against the disciples – Jesus stands in the middle, lifts up His voice & commands Peter to drop his weapon.
I want to ask you to take careful note of something here.
When Peter put the sword to use on behalf of his Master, Jesus told him to put it away.
The sword is not a proper tool of the Gospel, of the Church.
is the State’s right to use the sword to restrain evil, as Paul makes clear in
Our sword is not metal – it is the Word of God.
Mohammed instructed his followers to spread Islam through the sword.
Islam means “surrender” and he commanded his followers to bring about the subjugation of all people through either religious conversion or military domination.
From the radical Muslim perspective, the War on Terror is simply jihad; Islam’s Holy Struggle against the infidels who they have a mandate to convert & bring under the banner of Mohammed any way possible.
12 Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him.
Which seems rather comical after they all just fell to the ground at His mere word.
13 And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. 14 Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
John drips with sarcasm when he says Caiaphas was high priest that year.
The office of high priest was a life-long appointment; one ordered by God.
The high priests were supposed to be of the lineage of Aaron, Moses’ brother.
The patriarch of each generation was the high priest & upon his death, his eldest son took his place.
That’s the way it was supposed to be; but by Jesus’ day, the priesthood had become a corrupt political office that was more about civil power & material wealth than anything else.
Essene community, which was a small but potent force in
The Dead Sea Scrolls are their writings detailing all of this.
So if the high priest is supposed to be appointed for life, why is Caiaphus said to be high priest that year?
Annas was a notorious character. 
His family was from the priestly line, but he wasn’t a part of the high priesthood – He’d bribed his way into office.
Alfred Edersheim, the famed historian of
He’d been high priest from 6 to 15 AD.
His 4 sons had also held the high priesthood.
Caiaphas was his son-in-law also served in that capacity.
If the priesthood was supposed to be for life, why this constant change?
When the Romans took direct control of
Instead of the high priesthood being a hereditary office, the Roman governor assigned the office to who he wanted.
Intrigue, bribery, and corruption followed.
The priesthood went to the greatest suck-up & highest bidder.
It was a prize for the guy most willing to comply with Roman interests.
Annas’s family was incredibly wealthy & had managed to buy the high priesthood.
As the patriarch of the family, Annas was the real power in Israeli civil & religious spheres.
When it became public knowledge the high priest was collaborating with the Romans, the governor would appoint a new high priest; one who’s reputation wasn’t sullied with such associations.
But eventually it would come out that he too was in
When all of Annas’ sons had been run through, the selection moved on to his son in law.
But make no mistake, the real power behind all these guys was ole’ Annas.
Annas had gained his wealth as the guy who ran the temple marketplace.
The shops where called The Bazaars of Annas.
It was a scheme to exploit those who came to worship God.
Common Jews hated the household of Annas.
There’s a passage in the Talmud which says:
“Woe to the house of Annas! Woe to their serpent’s hiss! They are High
Priests; their sons are keepers of the treasury; their sons-in-law are
guardians of the
This is why Jesus was brought first to Annas.
The Jewish police knew who the real power was.
Jesus had attacked Annas’s financial interest twice when He cleared the temple at the beginning & end of His public ministry.
15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest.
Mark tell us when Jesus was arrested the disciples scattered.
It got pretty hairy right at the end with Peter’s misadventure with the sword so they all fled.
But it didn’t take long for both Peter & John to collect their wits & turn around to follow the police back to Annas’ house.
Most Bible students see this “other disciple” as John’s characteristic oblique way of referring to himself.
He was known to the high priest, probably through his family business.
father Zebedee ran a successful fishing business in Galilee that supplied many
of the wealthy in
a good chance that before following Jesus, John had been part of several trips
Because of this, he was able to gain access into the courtyard of Annas’ mansion.
16 But Peter stood at the door outside.
Because he lacked the connections, the servants kept him out.
Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in.
John knew Peter was waiting at the gate & went and secured his entrance by telling the gatekeeper it was okay.
17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”
The gatekeeper took a closer look at Peter as he entered the courtyard & asked him if he was one of the disciples.
Now – as a disciple of a rabbi, as someone who enjoys the elite position of being a disciple, what ought we expect from Peter by way of reply?
“Absolutely! Jesus is my Rabbi!”
But Peter denies being who & what he is – Jesus’ disciple.
18 Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.
These were the police &
officials who’d gone to
Their job isn’t done. They have to provide guard duty for the prisoner until His fate is determined.
So while the trial goes on, they make a fire there in the courtyard because the mid-night hours have turned chilly.
Peter makes his way over & quietly steps near to warm himself as well.
19 The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. 21 Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.” 22 And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, “Do You answer the high priest like that?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?”
We need to understand that the entire examination before Annas was a mockery of justice.
Jewish law forbade the accused being asked questions that would incriminate himself. 
Witnesses had to be brought who could establish the facts.
And when the crime was worthy of capital punishment, which is what Annas was gunning for here with Jesus, there had to be a minimum of 3 witnesses whose testimonies all agreed.
The other gospels tell us that witnesses were brought, but none of their testimonies agreed.
In frustration, Annas demanded Jesus answer for Himself.
Jesus is saying by way of reply in vs. 20 & 21 is that the City of
There was no lack of credible witnesses.
The problem is, not one of them would provide the priests with the ammo they wanted to put Jesus down.
When Jesus gave this reply, one of the officers slapped His face in rebuke.
Jesus simply responded that this was an abuse of justice; what He’d said was the proper way to conduct a trial & Annas was in grave error.
But Jesus never had any hope of justice.
He knew He was already condemned in their eyes.
The person who clings to evil seeks only to eliminate opposition, without regard for justice.
24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Since Jewish families tended to build their houses next to each other, and since Annas was such a domineering patriarch, there’s a good chance Caiaphus’ home was immediately next to his father in law’s.
It’s also very possible Caiaphus was in another room there in Annas’ palace, waiting for his father in law to have his fun with the Prisoner before the real trail began.
25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not!” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.
Some are troubled by a side by side comparison of the denial stories.
In all 4 Gospels the first challenger is a young woman.
For the second challenge, John says it was “they” meaning the people standing round the fire, while the other 3 Gospels say it was another young woman.
John says the third challenge came from a servant of the high priest while the other 3 say it came from those standing at the fire.
Is this a contradiction?
Matthew, Mark, & Luke all agree in their narrative, while John, the only one who was actually there, tells a different story; or does he??
A careful reading of Matthew, Mark & Luke’s account don’t actually put the second challenge coming directly from the young woman.
Rather, she comments to the people gathered round the fire that she thinks Peter is a disciple. John tells us that they then present the challenge to Peter.
In the third challenge we have much the same thing.
It’s perfectly natural to see the servants & police standing round the fire chatting about all that’s going on when one of them who’s joined the group an hour after the second challenge, (Luke tells us it was an hour) he sees Peter standing there & voices his challenge.
As he does, the rest of the servants renew their inquiry, which Peter flatly rejects.
Peter’s failed in the very thing he was most strong in – courage.
It was Peter who whipped out his sword and started swinging in the Garden in the face of overwhelming odds.
was Peter who stepped out of the boat during the storm on
It was Peter who followed Jesus to Annas’ house when the rest of the disciples ran away.
It was Peter who left his hiding place & ran to the tomb on Sunday morning.
Peter was a brave guy. He was ready when it came to the big & obvious challenges.
But it was precisely because he was brave & courageous that he failed in courtyard of the High Priest.
His idea of courage was all set for the challenge of an armed mob; it wasn’t ready for a little girl.
a couple hundred stormed into
When it was a handful of humble servants trying to keep warm, he wasn’t ready.
We need to realize we face a wily adversary who’s highly skilled in spiritual warfare.
He knows what our strengths & weaknesses are.
He’ll throw an obvious assault against our strength, with no real intent to defeat us.
His aim is to get us to lose our vigilance by making us think we’ve got that area closed tight.
The city of
The city was fabulously wealthy under the reign of it’s King Croesus.
It sat atop a step cliff with high walls that were impregnable.
Many armies had wasted themselves in assaulting the city over the decades.
When the Persian king Cyrus arrived, he held his troops back and set a siege on the City.
The Sardisian had plenty of supplies and knew they could outlast the siege.
Cyrus then promised a huge reward to any solider who could find a way to take the city.
One Persian guard fixed his eyes on the city walls & just watched for hours.
He saw a soldier accidentally drop his helmet over the wall.
He disappeared, then reappeared a short time later several yards down the slope, outside the walls.
The Persians realized there had to be a secret door somewhere.
So that night, he led a small troop of Persian up the slope in that same area and began looking.
Sure enough, they found a little postern gate that was easily jimmied open.
Stepping inside, they expected to find guards, but everyone had gone home for a good night’s sleep.
The Sardisians were so confident in their walls, their lofty position, & their past as an unconquerable city they hadn’t set a guard.
The city ended up falling to just a few Persian soldiers.
What’s the lesson?
The very thing you are strong in may be the place you fall to if your dependence is rooted in yourself instead of the Lord.
I’ve counseled lots of men & women over the years who’ve told me that they thought their marriage was good & adultery was a non-issue, who fell prey to it.
I’ve talked with plenty who had no problem with gossip, who actively resisted it when it came up, but who ended up getting embroiled in a terrible case of tale-bearing.
I’ve known people of incredible grace & mercy who treat a grudge like the plague who’ve allowed some minor slight to cripple them spiritually & relationally.
It doesn’t matter what your natural strength is – it has to be made dependent on Christ or it will become the point you stumble in.
If you don’t believe me, ask Peter.
28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium,
This was the Governor’s palace.
We don’t know if this was the Antonio Fortress adjacent to the Temple or if it was one of Herod the Great’s mansions in the western part of the City.
and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.
The religiously careful refused to go under a Gentile’s roof for fear of ritual contamination.
Since it was the Passover, these guys were extra careful to avoid anything that would mean they couldn’t eat the meal.
BTW – can anyone see a problem presented by the last part of v. 28 – “that they might eat the Passover.”
For these guys – the Passover comes later that day.
Yet the Passover Jesus had with the disciples was eaten the previous evening. What’s the deal? When was Passover?
The answer is a bit complicated, but I’ll just summarize with this. There are 2 possible ways to reconcile this –
1) We know the Pharisees & Sadducees were in a huge debate over the calendar at this time.
These calendars varied by a single day, with the common people & Pharisees opting for a Passover one day before the Sadducees & most of the wealthy.
The guys mentioned here as bringing Jesus to Pilate were Sadducees.
2) The other option & one that finds far less support is that with so many pilgrims coming to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem, there were far too many lambs to sacrifice in one day so they spread the feast over two.
The pilgrims celebrated the feast a day before the residents of Jerusalem & Judea.
29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”
As soon as Pilate heard the priests had arrived to issue charges against someone, he knew the penalty was death.
If it was some lesser punishment, they would have handled it themselves.
So He asked, “What’s the charge?”
Instead of specifying what it was, they say, “Trust us Pilate; He deserves to die.”
From this oblique answer Pilate concludes this is nothing more than another one of the many religious controversies that got the Jews so riled up.
31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
Rome had striped the Sanhedrin of the right to exact capital punishment.
33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
The priests had finally given Pilate something specific to be concerned about.
We talked Sunday about why this claim would be so troublesome to Pilate.
34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
Since we looked at this passage in depth on Sunday, we’ll not make further comment tonight.
Notice that Pilate comes out to tell the priests after a thorough interrogation, he finds nothing in Jesus worthy of Rome’s wrath.
39 “But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 Then they all cried again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
At this point, Pilate knows he’ll be turning Jesus back over to the priests & that they’ll probably take out on Him what fury & violence they can.
They may even conspire to murder Him if Pilate won’t do it for them.
So he looks for a way to release Jesus.
Every year at Passover, as a way to mollify the huge crowds, the Romans had gotten into the practice of releasing one of the Jewish prisoners.
A crowd has now gathered for this and Pilate comes before them to offer Jesus’ release.
He knows that the common people despised the priests, so he put the decision on Jesus’ release to them.
The other option was a brigand named Barabbas, a common thief & murderer who was no one’s hero.
In Pilate’s calculations, Jesus was the hands-down winner of the gift of pardon.
What he didn’t know was that the priests were even then circulating through the crowds threatening the people that if they called out for Jesus’ release there would be serious repercussions.
When Pilate opened the choice, the calls for Barabbas far outweighed the calls for Jesus.
What’s interesting about this little detail John includes here is that the name Barabbas means “son of the father.”
“Bar” is Hebrew for “son of” like “Mac” in MacDonald or “O’” O’Donnell.
Abbas means “father;” Barabbas = son of the father.
Barabbas is not a first name, it’s a surname.
Simon’s full name was Simon barJonah.
So what was Barabbas’ first name?
Some very ancient Greek, Syrian, & Armenian texts of the Gospels say his first name was Joshua – or, in it’s Greek form; Jesus.
So when the crowds called out in reply to Pilate’s question, “Who shall I release?” “They cried out, “Jesus Barabbas, not Jesus of Nazareth.”
Some see in the reply of the crowd a picture of Israel’s rejection of the true Christ & how they will instead be fooled by an imposter, the antichrist.
The Gospel of John : Volume
c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the
Maimonides, the great Jewish scholar
of the Middle Ages, said: “Our true law
does not inflict the penalty of death upon a sinner by his own confession.” The Gospel of John : Volume 2.
2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the