Soldiers take Jesus to the leader of the priests
1When Jesus had finished praying, he and his disciples went out. They went across the Kidron valley. On the other side, there was a garden. Jesus and his disciples went into it. 2Judas, who sold Jesus to his enemies, knew the garden. He knew the place because Jesus and his disciples had met there often. 3The leaders of the priests and the Pharisees sent a group of soldiers and some officers with Judas. He led these soldiers and officers to the garden. The soldiers had weapons and they carried lights. #18:3 The soldiers were Roman soldiers. The officers were Jews who may have worked like police at God's Great House (the Temple).
4Jesus knew everything that would soon happen to him. He went towards them and he asked them, ‘Who are you looking for?’ 5They answered, ‘Jesus, who comes from Nazareth.’ Jesus said, ‘That is who I am.’
Judas, who sold Jesus to his enemies, was standing there with the soldiers. 6When Jesus said the words, ‘I am,’ the soldiers quickly moved away from him. They fell down to the ground. #18:6 The Jews used ‘I am’ as the name of God. When Jesus said, ‘I am,’ they would have recognised this name. He was saying that he is God. 7So Jesus asked them again, ‘Who are you looking for?’ They said, ‘Jesus, who comes from Nazareth.’ 8Jesus replied, ‘I have told you already, that is who I am. Since it is me that you are looking for, let these other men go.’ 9Jesus said this because earlier he had said, ‘I have lost none of those people that you gave to me.’ This made what he had spoken earlier really happen.
10Simon Peter had a sword. He took hold of it and he attacked the servant of the leader of the priests. He cut off the servant's right ear. The servant's name was Malchus. 11Then Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword away in its place! My Father has decided what great pain I must have. I will obey him completely.’
12The group of soldiers, with their captain and the Jewish officers, took hold of Jesus and they tied his arms. 13They led him first to Annas, who was the father of Caiaphas's wife. Caiaphas was the leader of the priests that year. 14It was Caiaphas who had spoken to the Jewish leaders some time before. He had told them, ‘It is better that one man should die on behalf of the people.’ #18:14 See John 11:50.
Peter says that he does not know Jesus
15Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple and the leader of the priests knew each other. So, that disciple went with Jesus into the yard of the house of the leader of the priests. 16But Peter stayed outside by the gate. Then the other disciple went out again. He spoke to the girl who was watching at the gate. Then he brought Peter into the yard. 17The girl who was at the gate asked Peter, ‘Are you another of this man's disciples?’ Peter replied, ‘No, I am not!’
18It was cold. So the servants and the officers had made a fire. They were standing round it to make themselves warm. Peter went to stand with them, so that he could make himself warm too.
The leader of the priests asks Jesus questions
19The leader of the priests asked Jesus questions about his disciples. He also asked about what Jesus taught. 20Jesus answered him, ‘I have always taught in the Jewish meeting places, or at God's Great House. Those are public places where all the Jews meet together. I have said nothing secretly. 21So, you do not need to ask me these questions. You can ask the people who heard me when I taught them. They know what I said.’
22When Jesus said this, one of the soldiers hit him on the face. The soldier said, ‘You should not speak to the leader of the priests like that!’ #18:22 Jesus was not saying anything wrong. He was telling the leader of the priests to ask people who had heard him teach. That was the right thing to do. It was what the Jewish rules said. 23Jesus replied, ‘If I said something wrong, tell us what it is. But if I said something that is true, you should not have hit me.’ 24Then Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas, the leader of the priests. Jesus still had ropes tied round his arms. #18:24 Annas had himself been the leader of the priests before Caiaphas, so people still called him the ‘Leader of the priests’ too.
Peter says again that he does not know Jesus
25Simon Peter was still standing there by the fire to make himself warm. The other people there said to him, ‘You must also be one of that man's disciples.’ But Peter said, ‘No, I am not.’
26One of the people there was a servant of the leader of the priests. He belonged to the same family as the man whose ear Peter had cut off. This servant said to Peter, ‘I am sure that I saw you in the garden with Jesus.’ 27Again, Peter said, ‘No, that is not true.’ Immediately a cockerel sang.
Pilate asks Jesus questions
28The Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas's house to the Roman ruler's big house. It was early in the morning. The Jewish leaders wanted to follow the Jewish rules so that they could eat the Passover meal. They did not go into the ruler's house, because it would have made them dirty. #18:28 During the time that Jesus lived on the earth, the Romans ruled over Israel. The Roman ruler (Pilate) lived and worked in a special house. It was called the Praetorium. It had a big yard inside, where people waited to see the ruler. #18:28 The Jews had special rules about who could go to their festivals. They had to keep themselves ‘clean’ and ready for God. So they could not go into the houses of people who did not believe God. If the Jewish leaders had gone into Pilate's house, they would not have been ‘clean’ for the Passover.
29So Pilate, the Roman ruler, went outside to meet them. He asked them, ‘What wrong thing do you say that this man has done?’ 30They replied, ‘We would not have brought him to you if he had done nothing wrong.’ 31Pilate said to them, ‘You yourselves take him away. You should judge him by your own laws.’ The Jewish leaders replied, ‘We do not have authority to kill anyone when they have done something bad.’ #18:31 The Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus. But the Romans did not let them kill anyone. Only the Roman ruler could cause his soldiers to kill someone who had done something wrong. 32Jesus had already told people how he was going to die. These things happened so that he would die in that way.#18:32 The Romans fixed a person on to a big cross of wood to kill him. Then they let the person hang there until he died. Jesus had said that people would ‘lift him up’. This is what he meant. And when Jesus said something, it had to happen.
33Pilate went back inside his big house. He told Jesus to come and stand in front of him. He asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ 34Jesus said, ‘Is that your own idea, or have other people spoken to you about me?’ 35Pilate replied, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? It was your own people and the leaders of your priests who brought you to me. What have you done?’ 36Jesus said, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world. If it did, my disciples would have fought for me. They would have fought so that the Jewish leaders could not take hold of me. No, my kingdom belongs to another place.’ 37Pilate said to him, ‘So, that means you really are a king!’ Jesus answered, ‘You have said that I am a king! I was born for this reason: I came into the world to tell people the truth about God. Everyone who believes the truth listens to my message.’ 38Pilate said, ‘I do not know what truth is.’
When Pilate had said that, he went outside again to the Jewish people there. He said to them, ‘I do not see that this man has done anything wrong. I have no reason to punish him. 39But every year we do something for you Jews. We let one man go free from the prison at the time of your Passover festival. Do you want me to let the king of the Jews go free?’ 40They shouted their answer, ‘No, we do not want him! Let Barabbas go free!’ (Barabbas was a bad man who had attacked people and robbed them.)