Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
1After Jesus finished this prayer; he left with his disciples and went across the Kidron Valley # 18:1 The Kidron ravine is the path David took when he was forced to flee Jerusalem because of the betrayal of his son Absalom. David went up the Mount of Olives weeping. Jesus went up also in sorrow. David went up to save himself; Jesus went up to save the people of the world. to a place where there was a garden. # 18:1 This is the garden of Gethsemane, which means “olive press.” Jesus not only went to the garden to pray, but to be captured. He knew full well the Father’s plan. Just as Adam fell in a garden of paradise, Jesus stood faithful in a garden of betrayal. 2Judas, the traitor, knew where this place was, for Jesus had gone there often with his disciples. 3The Pharisees and the leading priests had given Judas a large detachment # 18:3 The Greek and Aramaic word used for this company of soldiers implies quite a large number, up to five or six hundred men sent to arrest Jesus. Even his enemies knew his power was great. of Roman soldiers and temple police to seize Jesus. Judas guided them to the garden, all of them carrying torches and lanterns and armed with swords and spears. # 18:3 The Greek word is “foot-soldiers’ weapons.” 4Jesus, knowing full well what was about to happen, went out to the garden entrance to meet them. Stepping forward, he asked, “Who are you looking for?”
5“Jesus of Nazareth,” # 18:5 Or “Jesus, the Nazarene.” This is the Aramaic word nussraya, which means “victorious one” or “heir of a powerful family.” The Hebrew word for “Nazareth” comes from the root word netzer, which means “branch.” See Isa. 4:2; 11:1. they replied. (Now Judas, the traitor, was among them.)
He replied, “I am he.”
6And the moment Jesus spoke the words, “I am he,” the mob fell backward to the ground! # 18:6 This was a stunning event as the great I Am spoke his name before those who sought to seize him. It is obvious in the text that they did not trip over each other in surprise, for every one of these strong men fell backward to the ground by the power of God. Jesus was in charge that night as the captain of the host of the Lord. They could not seize him unless he permitted them to do so. What a wonderful Savior who willingly submitted to the hands of cruel men to bring us the gift of salvation.
7So once more, Jesus asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
As they stood up, they answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
8Jesus replied, “I told you that I am the one you’re looking for, so if you want me, let these men go home.” # 18:8 “These men” were the eleven disciples who were with Jesus in the garden.
9He said this to fulfill the prophecy he had spoken, “Father, not one of those you have given me has been lost.” # 18:9 See John 6:39; 17:12.
10Suddenly, Peter took out his sword and struck the high priest’s servant, slashing off his right ear! # 18:10 This event is a vivid picture of what happens when we act impetuously and in anger. We hinder people’s ability to hear our message (we cut off their ear) when we walk in angry offense toward others. The servant’s name was Malchus. # 18:10 Malchus’ name means “king.” Perhaps at the moment of healing his ear, Jesus personally revealed himself to Malchus in a supernatural way, the King who healed a king. Jesus is the true servant to the High Priest. We can imagine Jesus reaching out his hand to help Malchus up. And in an instant, Malchus believes. Malchus’ ears, both of them, are healed.
11Jesus ordered Peter, “Put your sword away! Do you really think I will avoid the suffering # 18:11 Or “Shall I not drink the cup (of suffering) assigned me by the Father?” which my Father has assigned to me?”
Jesus Is Taken before Annas
12Then the soldiers and their captain, along with the Jewish officers, seized Jesus and tied him up. 13They took him first to Annas, # 18:13 John is the only Gospel account that inserts this pre-trial meeting with Annas. He was the retired and illegal high priest. as he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. # 18:13 Or “close friend to the high priest.” The priesthood was corrupt in the time of Jesus. It was not proper for two men to hold the office of high priest at the same time, as it apparently was done in Jesus’ day. They both were called high priest in this narrative. See John 18:19, 24. 14Caiaphas was the one who had persuaded the Jewish leaders that it would be better off to have one person die for the sake of the people. # 18:14 See John 11:49–51.
Peter’s First Denial
15Peter and another disciple followed along behind them as they took Jesus into the courtyard of Annas’ palace. Since the other disciple was well known to the high priest, he entered in, # 18:15 Although it is impossible to determine who exactly was this other disciple, some have surmised it was John himself, or Nicodemus. If it was Nicodemus, as a leader among the Pharisees, this would explain his inclusion into the proceedings taking place that night. 16but Peter was left standing outside by the gate. Then the other disciple came back out to the servant girl who was guarding the gate and convinced her to allow Peter inside. 17As he passed inside, the young servant girl guarding the gate took a look at Peter and said to him, “Aren’t you one of his disciples?”
He denied it, saying, “No! I’m not!”
18Now because it was cold, the soldiers and guards made a charcoal fire and were standing around it to keep warm. So Peter huddled there with them around the fire.
Jesus Interrogated by Annas
19The high priest interrogated Jesus concerning his disciples # 18:19 It is interesting that Annas was concerned about Jesus’ disciples. The religious spirit is always concerned with impressive numbers and influence. Jesus only had twelve disciples who were always with him. and his teachings.
20Jesus answered Annas’ questions by saying, “I have said nothing in secret. At all times I have taught openly and publicly in a synagogue, in the temple courts, and wherever the people assemble. 21Why would you ask me for evidence to condemn me? Ask those who have heard what I’ve taught. They can tell you.”
22Just then one of the guards standing near Jesus punched him in the face with his fist # 18:22 The Greek is simply “struck him.” This could have been with a rod, for the verb has an etymological connection to the word for “rod.” Most translators have chosen to use “struck [or ‘slapped’] with his hand.” Regardless, Jesus was beaten everywhere he went that night and the next morning until he was finally crucified. and said, “How dare you answer the high priest like that!”
23Jesus replied, “If my words are evil, then prove it. But if I haven’t broken any laws, then why would you hit me?”
24Then Annas sent Jesus, still tied up, across the way to the high priest Caiaphas.
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
25Meanwhile, Peter was still standing in the courtyard by the fire. And one of the guards standing there said to him, “Aren’t you one of his disciples? I know you are!” Peter swore # 18:25 As translated from the Aramaic. This is a very strong word that can also be translated “blasphemed.” God’s loving grace forgave Peter’s sin—and our sin. and said, “I am not his disciple!” 26But one of the servants of the high priest, a relative to the man whose ear Peter had cut off, looked at him and said, “Wait! Didn’t I see you out there in the garden with Jesus?” 27Then Peter denied it the third time and said, “No!”—and at that very same moment, a rooster crowed nearby.
Pilate Questions Jesus’ Arrest
28Before dawn they took Jesus from his trial before Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s palace. # 18:28 The Greek is Praetorium, which is the transliteration of the Latin word meaning “general’s tent.” It became used for the Roman governor’s official residence. Now the Jews refused to go into the Roman governor’s residence to avoid ceremonial defilement before eating the Passover meal. 29So Pilate came outside where they waited and asked them pointedly, “Tell me, what exactly is the accusation # 18:29 The Aramaic word for “accusation” is similar to the word devil (“accuser”). Pilate is saying, “What the devil do you have against this man?” that you bring against this man? What has he done?”
30They answered, “We wouldn’t be coming here to hand over # 18:30 The Aramaic word for “hand over” can also be translated “betray.” this ‘criminal’ to you if he wasn’t guilty of some wrongdoing!”
31Pilate said, “Very well, then you take him yourselves and go pass judgment on him according to your Jewish laws!”
But the Jewish leaders complained and said, “We don’t have legal authority to put anyone to death. You should have him crucified!” # 18:31 Implied in the context and made explicit to clarify the illegality of the Jews to crucify Jesus. The Jewish law permitted death by stoning, not by crucifixion. The Scriptures had prophesied that he would be pierced and crucified. This was the cruel manner of death used by the Romans to execute the worst of criminals. For this reason they wanted Pilate to order his crucifixion. See John 12:32–34. 32(This was to fulfill the words of Jesus when he predicted the manner of death that he would die.)
Pilate Interrogates Jesus
33Upon hearing this, Pilate went back inside his palace and summoned Jesus. Looking him over, Pilate asked him, “Are you really the king of the Jews?”
34Jesus replied, “Are you asking because you really want to know, # 18:34 The Aramaic is “Have you spoken this from your soul?” or are you only asking this because others have said it about me?”
35Pilate responded, “Only a Jew would care about this; do I look like a Jew? It’s your own people and your religious leaders that have handed you over to me. So tell me, Jesus, what have you done wrong?”
36Jesus looked at Pilate and said, “The royal power of my kingdom realm doesn’t come from this world. If it did, then my followers would be fighting to the end to defend me from the Jewish leaders. My kingdom realm authority is not # 18:36 The Aramaic is “not yet from here.” from this realm.” # 18:36 The Greek text is not “world,” but literally “this side” or “this realm.” The Aramaic word used here can be translated “not of this age.”
37Then Pilate responded, “Oh, so then you are a king?”
“You are right.” Jesus said, “I was born a King, and I have come into this world to prove what truth really is. And everyone who loves the truth # 18:37 Or “everyone who is not deaf to the truth.” The Aramaic is “everyone who came from the truth.” will receive my words.”
38Pilate looked at Jesus and said, “What is truth?” # 18:38 The Aramaic could be translated “Who is truth?” or “Who is the true prince?” This skepticism is still voiced today in postmodernism.
As silence filled the room, Pilate went back out to where the Jewish leaders were waiting and said to them, “He’s not guilty. I couldn’t even find one fault with him. # 18:38 As translated from the Aramaic. 39Now, you do know that we have a custom that I release one prisoner every year at Passover—shall I release your king—the king of the Jews?” # 18:39 Pilate was not a saint. He was considered to be a corrupt and violent leader who would execute people without a trial. (Philo, De Legatione ad Caium, ed. Mangey, ii.590). He stole money from the temple treasury and brought pagan statues into Jerusalem, which caused riots and death to many. It was reported by the church father Eusebius (History Eccl. ii 7) that he was later banished to Vienna in Gaul, where he committed suicide.
40They shouted out over and over, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” # 18:40 Barabbas is an Aramaic name that means “son of the father.” He becomes a picture of every son of Adam, our father. Some believe this is a figure of speech, a nickname for one who has no known father, an illegitimate son. Both in Greek and Aramaic the word for “thief” or “robber” can also mean “one who leads an insurrection.” (Now Barabbas was a robber and a troublemaker.)