The Arrest of Jesus.
Across the Kidron to Gethsemane:
v. 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.
v. 2. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place; for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with His disciples.
v. 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.
Whether Jesus addressed His last discourses to His disciples and spoke His great sacerdotal prayer in the courtyard of the house where He had celebrated the Passover or on the way out of the city is immaterial. But now it is expressly stated that He went out, He left the city, with His disciples; He took the way which His ancestor David had once taken in his flight from Jerusalem, through the deep and dark ravine of the brook Kidron, which was a winter-torrent, flowing only in winter or during the rainy season. "Kidron we call in our language a black or dark brook; and the brook Kidron is situated near the city of Jerusalem; is not large, but flows only when it rains; has the name Kidron for this reason, because it is located so deep and dark, is lined with bushes and hedges, that. the water can hardly be seen because of them. The evangelist means to say Christ went over the true dark brook, yea, in my opinion He went over the black brook. He says nothing of the Mount of Olives and of the beautiful pleasant place, but refers only to this dark brook, as the one that fits best to this matter of the arrest and death of Christ. " On the eastern side of this ravine, on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, there was a garden, Gethsemane, into which Jesus entered with His disciples. The evangelist expressly states that Judas, the traitor, was well acquainted with the location of this garden, as well as with the habit of Jesus of frequenting this secluded spot, where He might, at least in a measure, enjoy few hours' rest and respite occasionally. Note that Jesus, as Luther remarks, neither sought the cross, nor did He flee from it; He entered into His Passion willingly, but He did not challenge martyrdom. Here at Gethsemane it was that the Lord was seized with the terror of death, that He battled with His Father in prayer, that His very blood was driven through His pores by the intensity of His suffering, but that He also gained the strength and courage bravely to face further suffering. Meanwhile Judas, who surmised that Jesus might choose this place of retirement, had made arrangements for His capture. There was a part of the Roman band, of the cohort, or garrison, of the Castle Antonia: they represented the government. In addition to these men, whom the Sadducees had probably obtained to prevent the risk of a popular uprising, there were men of the Temple-guard and servants of the Sanhedrin. This whole band, composed of such manifold and diverse elements, was led by Judas, and was well supplied with torches, both such as were made of resinous wood and such as burned oil and were more like lanterns. They wanted to be equipped for every emergency, even this, that Jesus might try to hide in the thickets of the ravine. Judas here appears as an enemy of Christ. He is the traitor that has betrayed to the Jews the place where Jesus might be found. He himself is the leader of the band, a despicable creature even in the eyes of his temporary cronies.
An exhibition of divine majesty:
v. 4. Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?
v. 5. They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am He. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them.
v. 6. As soon, then, as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground.
v. 7. Then asked He them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth.
v. 8. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He; if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way;
v. 9. that the saying might be fulfilled which He spake, Of them which Thou gavest Me have I lost none.
The members of the band might have saved themselves a great deal of trouble, for the hour of Jesus had now come, and He voluntarily delivered Himself into their hands. He knew all things that were to happen to Him, and went out to meet the men that were seeking Him. He was not only the omniscient God, knowing everything that was to happen to Him, but He was also the almighty God, as they were shortly to find out. From the description of John the roles of pursuers and pursued might have been reversed. For it is Jesus that challenges the band: whom seek ye? Their answer is: Jesus the Nazarene. And Jesus, with inimitable dignity and impressiveness, answers I am He. A wonderful, encompassing confession! "In considering this word, 'I am He,' the Christians should mark well who Christ is, what His will is, what His intention is, and how great He is that was captured by the Jews, crucified, and killed; and also, why Christ suffered thus and died. This serves to make a distinction between the suffering of Christ and that of all other saints. For when this distinction is made, then the Passion of Christ has value and transcends that of all prophets, apostles, martyrs, etc. But if you ask who Christ is, then you shall know that He is the Man who shortly before, in Joh_17:10, says: Father, all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine. ". As Jesus made His ringing confession, Judas, the traitor, as the evangelist especially remarks, stood with them. He had joined their ranks, he had cast his lot with the enemies of the Lord. And therefore the almighty power of this great confession struck also him, with the whole band: they all went backward and fell to the ground. Here was evidence of Christ's divine majesty, which should have served to open their eyes as to the real nature of the Man whom they were trying to arrest. With all their torches and lamps and weapons of diverse shapes and kinds they could not stand before Christ, a single word out of whose mouth threw them into a heap. Having given this evidence of His almighty power, Jesus again sends forth His ringing challenge: Whom seek ye? He now hid the rays of His divine majesty, He once more became the lowly, humble man. The truculent answer of the enemies must have been given all the more grudgingly as they felt themselves inferior to this Man. And Jesus again designated Himself as the Man whom they were seeking; He voluntarily delivered Himself into their hands. But to the last He held His guarding and sheltering hand over His disciples, reminding the officers and leaders of the band that, by their own statement, they are instructed to arrest none but Himself. His disciples therefore should be given leave to go their way unchallenged. In doing this, the evangelist finds that Jesus was carrying out the words of His prayer of but a short hour ago, Joh_17:12. "The evangelist here indicates that Christ with these words speaks of a being lost temporally. Above, in Joh_17:12, the text says clearly that the Lord speaks of a being lost eternally. But these two texts are not opposed to each other, though it certainly might seem that way; for if the disciples had been taken captive at that time, they would have been lost eternally in body and soul. There Christ is their Patron and Protector with the word 'I am He,' and that He says to the band, 'Let these go their way. ' With these words He preserved them that they might be lost neither temporally nor eternally; and in their soul they remain safe forever, although they afterwards in due time had to yield their bodies, and were obliged to give glory to God by their death. " Note: The tender kindness of Christ is concerned about all His believers in the same way, and it is ever active, and effectively so, in our interest.
v. 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.
v. 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?
v. 12. Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound Him,
v. 13. and led Him away to Annas first; for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
v. 14. Now Caiaphas was he which gave counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
At this point the impetuosity of Peter, together with His just anger at the audacity of the band in daring to threaten his Master, overwhelmed Him. He drew the sword with which he had provided himself, Luk_22:38, and struck out at the foremost of the band, the one standing nearest to him, the servant of the high priest, whose name was Malchus. The blow was delivered with sufficient force to sever the man's right ear from his head. But Jesus sternly reproved Peter for this interference with the counsel of God. He bade him put back the sword into its sheath. The Lord's method of defending Himself was not by means of weapons of this world. Any unauthorized use of power, especially in the interest of Christ and His Word, is sternly frowned down by Jesus. "Against such doctrine and apparent show of right this example of Peter should be alleged, to say that there is a great difference between him to whom a matter is committed, and him to whom it is not committed. What God wants He has sufficiently commanded and ordered. God does not sleep, neither is He a fool; He knows very well how the government shall be carried on. Therefore, in things that are not committed to thee let the sword alone. " Jesus wanted to drink the cup of suffering which His Father was now offering Him to drink. This attitude, that of willing obedience, was essential for the entire work of redemption. After this incident there was no more delay. The Roman soldiers, under the orders of their tribune, together with the leaders of the Sanhedrin that had come along, made the arrest, with all the show of authority as though they had a dangerous criminal to deal with. The band then took Jesus away to Hannas first, who, although no longer high priest, having held that office by annual appointment from A. D. 7-14, was still a man of commanding influence, and the father-in-law of the high priest of that year, Caiaphas. The palace of the high priests probably formed a complex of buildings about a square, or court, in an architecture which was half Jewish, half Roman, Hannas occupying the one side of the buildings and Caiaphas the other. To the rooms of Hannas Jesus was led first, partly out of deference to his station, partly in order to keep Him there for a preliminary examination, until the members of the Sanhedrin might all be called together. The evangelist identifies Caiaphas as the man who had made the prophecy, all unknown to himself, concerning the fact that Jesus should die for the people. As Luther says, Caiaphas was, in this case, much like the beast of Balaam, through whose mouth the Lord also spoke. Jesus truly was to die, not only for this people, who were His murderers, but for the sins of the whole world.
Jesus Arraigned, and the Denial of Peter.
The first denial:
v. 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.
v. 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.
v. 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.
v. 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. As Jesus was led away from Gethsemane, all the disciples having left Him according to His prophecy, there were two of their number that stopped in their flight and turned to follow the captors of Jesus at a distance. One of these men was Simon Peter; the other is not mentioned by name, but it was very likely John himself, of whom there is other evidence that he was well acquainted with, the Temple, its appointments, its usages, and its officers. It is possible that John was related to Caiaphas. This fact gave him immediate access to the palace of the high priest. The entrance opened upon the court, around which the residence was built, and the word was often used to designate the entire palace. Though the high priest's palace now officially belonged to Caiaphas, Hannas still had his apartments there. Peter, who was not known to the household, was not admitted to the court But John soon missed his companion, and, returning to the door, gave the janitress some assurance as to Peter's character, and thus gained admission for him. But as Peter stepped into the circle of light shed by the fire, the doorkeeper had an opportunity to look at him closely. And, probably without any serious intention, she asked him the question: Are you also one of this man's disciples? And smoothly and glibly the lie rolled from Peter's lips I am not. The denial had been uttered so thoughtlessly that Peter's conscience may have pricked him only a little, causing him to move back to some distance from the servants and guards that were assembled in the court. Nevertheless he did not leave. The fire which the house servants and the Sanhedrin ministers had kindled in the open section of the palace's court was most pleasant on this cool spring night, and so Peter gradually edged up more closely, also for the purpose of finding out the trend of the remarks. Note: It is always foolish and often dangerous for a disciple of Christ to join the ranks of gossiping unbelievers. If one's faith is challenged when engaged in the exercise of his duty, the defense may be swift and sure, but when one affiliates himself with his enemies, half the defense is taken away in advance.
The preliminary hearing:
v. 19. The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples and of His doctrine.
v. 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.
v. 21. Why askest thou Me? Ask them which heard Me what I have said unto them; behold, they know what I said.
v. 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?
v. 23. Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou Me?
v. 24. Now Annas had sent Him bound unto Caiaphas, the high priest.
While they were waiting for the members of the Sanhedrin to assemble for an extraordinary session, Hannas, who is here called high priest by courtesy, as a former incumbent of the office, had a preliminary, private hearing with Jesus. He asked Jesus about His disciples and about His teaching. The information might be of value in several respects. He may have wanted to get the names of the disciples for future use, and a summary of Christ's teaching in order to garble the information to suit his ends. Or Hannas may simply have wanted to find out whether Jesus was making disciples as simple rabbi or as avowed Messiah. In either event the answer of the Lord was to be used against Him in the trial. And therefore Jesus very properly referred Hannas to His plain and open speaking before the whole world. He had spoken without reserve to anybody and everybody that cared to hear. Both in synagogues and in the Temple, wherever occasion offered, the Lord had taught, where all the Jews regularly assembled. Nothing had He spoken in secret. This applies even to such speeches as He had made in the presence of His disciples only, for even at such times He had taught them facts which they were to reveal to the world at the proper time. Christ's public doctrine contained everything that any person needed to come to a conclusion regarding His person and office. "But that Christ occasionally taught His disciples something privately, that does not concern His office of teaching and His public preaching; the office of teaching is public, for He had preached and taught publicly in the boat, on the land, on the mountains, in the synagogues, and in the Temple. In addition, He instructed His disciples privately and apart. Both, then, is true, namely, that Christ taught publicly and privately, but thus that His private teaching might also become public and nothing remain in a corner, nor in hiding. " It was a just demand of the Lord's, therefore, that Hannas at this time apply to those that heard His preaching and hear their testimony. Jesus does not want to repeat here what He had so often taught and testified to. Three years and more He had attended to this part of His office; now the time had come to suffer and die. Note: In the kingdom of Christ everything has its time, also public teaching and preaching. If in some country, where the Word has been established, the majority of the people refuse to listen, then Christ begins to withdraw the pure preaching and takes His Gospel elsewhere. If a person therefore neglects preaching and the Word, he will have to account for his contempt with a severe reckoning. Such a one may in the hour of his death desire to hear of the one thing needful, and will find himself without the comfort of the Gospel. God is not mocked! When Jesus rebuked the former high priest with these words, one of the servants of the Sanhedrin that was standing nearby had the impudence to slap Jesus in the face with his flat hand, a cowardly and unjustified blow. He even accompanied his unwarranted outrage with an explanation in the form of the question: Thus dost Thou answer the high priest? But Jesus did not take this blow without a word of reproof for the cowardly servant. If He had spoken evil, the servant should bear witness to that effect, and not undertake to administer a punishment without authority. And again, if His defense had been right and good, how could he dare to strike in such an unwarranted manner? It was a calm, reasonable, but conclusive rebuke, and in no wise out of harmony with the teaching of Jesus concerning the turning of the other cheek. A disciple of Christ will suffer the wrong, as Christ also did, but he may and should under circumstances reprove the injustice. "That He says to the servant: If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, you must understand thus, that there is a great difference between these two, to turn the other cheek and to rebuke with words him that smites us thus. Christ should suffer, but just the same the word is put into His mouth, that He should speak and rebuke what is wrong. " Meanwhile the purpose of the waiting had been realized, and the trial in the hall of Caiaphas could begin. Therefore Hannas now sent Jesus from his apartments to those of Caiaphas. The Sanhedrin, the spiritual court of the Jews, had convened, and the formal examination could now take place.
Peter's second and third denial:
v. 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.
v. 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?
v. 27. Peter then denied again; and immediately the cock crew.
While the hearing was going on in the chambers of Hannas, Peter had remained in the circle of the servants and guards near the fire. That was foolhardiness, for he that willfully courts temptation and danger usually finds himself overwhelmed by the danger. The first time Peter had denied on account of the mocking question of the doorkeeper. Her suspicions had meanwhile been transmitted to the other servants, especially through the agency of a second janitress. A. number of them now turned to Peter with searching questions as to his connection with the prisoner in the hall. The specific accusation was that Peter was a disciple of Christ. Peter denied for the second time. But the suspicion continued. One remark led to another, the dialect of Peter came in for its measure of attention. Finally a kinsman of Malchus, the man whose ear Peter had cut off in the garden, told him pointblank that he had seen him with Jesus in the garden. Peter was driven into a corner and had no weapon left with which to defend himself He blasphemously reiterated his denial, -and then the time of cock-crowing came. He had entirely overheard the first signal of warning, but now was brought back to his senses. Note: The familiarity of the evangelist with affairs in the house of the high priest is indicated also in this section by his knowledge of relationships. Mark also: A repeated denial, such as that of Peter in this case, results in loss of faith. It may happen, under regrettable circumstances, that a person, being thrown into the company of scoffers, may deny his Lord by word or deed, and still retain his faith. But if such a denial is done repeatedly without heeding the warnings of conscience, then there is no chance for Christianity to remain in the heart. That was Peter's condition at that moment; if he had died during the time of the third denial, he would have been lost. But the Lord had His disciple in mind and called him back to faith through a sincere repentance.
The Trial before Pilate.
The arraignment before Pilate:
v. 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.
v. 29. Pilate then went out unto them and said, What accusation bring ye against this Man?
v. 30. They answered and said unto him, If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee.
v. 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;
v. 32. that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spake, signifying what death He should die.
The remaining hours of the night, after cock-crowing, brought some rest to the members of the Sanhedrin, after their mock trial in the palace of Caiaphas, Mat_26:57-68, but not to Jesus, with whom the servants had their sport. And hardly did the dawn break over the eastern hills when the Sanhedrin, having confirmed their resolution of the night in a session in the Hall of Polished Stones, led Jesus away to the Praetorium, the governor's palace in Antonia, near the Temple. It was still very early in the morning. The Jews took Jesus to the door of Pilate's palace, thus delivering Him into the power of the Roman governor for the confirmation and execution of their verdict, since they had adjudged Him guilty of death, but no longer possessed the authority to inflict capital punishment. The members of the Sanhedrin were incidentally very careful about their behavior. They did not wish to become defiled in any way by touching anything unclean or by coming into personal contact with Gentiles. They wanted to be Levitically clean for the eating of the second chagigah, or sacrifice, of the double festival. For the word Passover is applied not only to the meal of the 14th
of Nisan, but to all the sacrificial meals that were prescribed for the seven days of the festival, Deu_16:2-3; 2Ch_30:22. But the command of God did not go so far as to prohibit the entering into the house of a Gentile at this time. That was one of the traditions of the elders which the Jews observed with such strictness. The entire proceeding gave evidence of the hypocrisy of the Jewish rulers. They did not shrink from committing wanton murder, but transgressing a foolish commandment of their elders was considered a deadly sin. Since the Jews would not enter into the judgment-hall for a formal and customary trial, Pilate came out on the platform before the Praetorium and inquired for the charges against the prisoner. This was a concession on the part of Pilate which the Jews may have construed as a weakness. At any rate, their answer upon his reasonable inquiry was an insolent challenge: If this Man were not a doer of evil, we should not have delivered Him to thee. Their attitude was almost threatening. They had found the prisoner guilty of death, and therefore Pilate should ask no questions, ask neither for evidence nor for testimony, but simply confirm their decision and have the punishment executed. Pilate therefore replied to them according to their impudent answer. If it was a matter regarding which they had such definite information, if it was a mere matter of the transgression of a ceremonial law and not an affair for the criminal court of the Roman government, then they should act accordingly. They should take the accused and carry out the punishment which their church laws imposed in such cases. The leaders of the Jews answered that their verdict called for capital punishment, for an execution which it was not in their power to carry out. Their own consciences they were quieting with the pretext that they had found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, and before Pilate they were determined to urge the accusation that He was a political criminal, a rebel dangerous to the Roman government. Pilate, on the other hand, had the conviction that the whole affair was a matter of religious controversy, which in no way concerned the Roman government. Thus it happened in the end that Jesus, being handed over into the power of the Roman governor, was crucified, according to the Roman manner of executing. Arid thereby the prophecy of the Lord was fulfilled, not only that He would be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, but also that He would die by crucifixion, Joh_12:32-33; Mat_20:19. "Note: The Lord knew every step of the way, was conscious at all times of the things that would happen to Him; His suffering and death were voluntary and therefore of such wonderful value.
Pilate begins the examination of Jesus
v. 33. Then Pilate entered into the judgment-hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art Thou the King of the Jews?
v. 34. Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?
v. 35. Pilate answered, Am I, a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me; what hast Thou done?
Having received no definite charges, but only vague intimations from the Jews, Pilate now resolved to give the prisoner a hearing. He took up the case, although he was convinced that Christ was no political criminal. That in itself was an injustice on the part of the governor, to make a case where he did not believe there was a case. But one of the statements of the Jewish rulers had been that Jesus had said that He was the King of the Jews. So Pilate takes up this matter, as one that might lead to some solution. But Jesus asks a very pertinent question in turn: Of thyself sayest thou this, or have others spoken to thee concerning Me? "Do you make this inquiry from any serious personal interest and with any keen apprehension of the blessings attached to the kingdom of God, or are you merely echoing a formal charge brought against Me by others?" "In the first place He excuses Himself thus: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me? This seems again as though it were answered in pride; however, it is not a proud answer, but a very necessary defense. For if someone is accused falsely, he should not let the accusation rest upon him nor say: This I will gladly suffer and let remain upon me for God's sake, but should openly protest his innocence. Therefore the Lord throws the guilt and false accusation which the Jews put upon Him far from Himself and says: Thou, Pilate, askest whether I am the King of the Jews, that is to say, whether I am a rebel against the emperor? I call upon thine own conscience as a witness whether thou accusest Me of this of thyself or not. Surely, of thyself thou wouldst not say such things of Me. Let thy conscience answer, yea, let thine own eyes answer. Thou seest Me stand before thee, captured and bound; I was taken in no tumult, and there is no crowd of people about Me that uses weapons, but I have altogether the aspect of a captured and bound person. Therefore I cannot be accused of insurrection against the emperor. Thus the Lord presents His innocence over against the false accusation of the Jews, calling upon both the conscience and the eyes of the judge for a witness. " The very implication that he might have had the idea which he broached himself, Pilate rejects with a show almost of loathing: I surely am no Jew! But the people to whom Jesus belonged by birth, the Jews and the chief priests, had delivered Him. And with some asperity Pilate wanted to know what the whole trouble was about, what Jesus had committed to be brought before Him in this manner. The idea that he should take any stock in a Jewish Messiah, Pilate scouts with sneering mockery.
The defense of Jesus:
v. 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.
v. 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 hearth voice.
v. 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.
v. 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?
v. 40. Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
After having protested against the false understanding of His claim which the Jews had brought in the form of a charge against Him, Jesus now proceeds to explain to Pilate in what sense the appellation "king" might well be applied to Him. His words amount to a wonderful confession regarding the spiritual kingdom of which He is the head. Christ's kingdom, His Church, is not of this world; it neither had its origin in the world, nor has it the nature and manner and characteristics of the world. It is no temporal kingdom; it is a spiritual, a heavenly kingdom. Christ's kingdom and the kingdoms, the governments, of the world are two entirely different things, which should never be confused or commingled. In this respect both Calvinism and Roman Catholicism, as well as any form of direct influence of the religious bodies on legislation, except to ward off unwarranted laws that would interfere with the free exercise of religion, are wrong. Christ's proof for His statement lies in this, that His servants, His followers, if His kingdom were of this world, would, at the present time, take up arms in His defense and deliver Him from the hands of the Jews. But He had deliberately hindered any such demonstration, because His kingdom is not of this world. Pilate now wanted a definite answer, in order to form some sort of judgment as to Christ's claim. He exclaims: Then you are a king, just the same! He still hoped to find some justification for his act, in case he should feel compelled to accede to the demands of the Jews. Jesus patiently explains to Pilate the nature of His kingship and the character of His kingdom. Pilate's exclamation was fully justified, because He was and is in truth a king. But lest the governor misunderstand, Jesus plainly states the object of His coming into the world. For this purpose was He born and for this aim came He into the world, to bear witness of the truth, in the interest of eternal, unchanging truth. The truth which has been revealed in Christ is the grace of God in Him, the Redeemer of the world. To this fact Jesus is to testify, thereby becoming the King of Truth, who establishes and expands His kingdom by means of the Word of Truth; He reigns through the Word. This is true of Him and of His ministers at all times. "In these days it happens to us also: Should we be silent regarding the truth and not reprove the lies, then we might well remain. But since we open our mouth, confess the truth, and condemn the lies, everyone wants to get at us. We preach no one but Christ, that no one is saved by himself; if it were possible for us to be saved in ourselves, it would not have been necessary for God to send His Son; but since God was obliged to send His Son, it certainly follows that we in ourselves are not able to be saved; that is our preaching and the truth, to which we bear witness. " It also follows from the facts which Christ states concerning Himself and the object of His coming into the world that only he that is of the truth, that has been born out of the truth, can and will hear His voice. Only he that has been born anew out of the Word of Truth has the power to give evidence of the truth that is in him. The truth, then. will be the element of such a person; he will live and move and have his being in the truth. He will then also listen to the voice of Christ, the Champion of truth; he will be an obedient citizen of the kingdom of Christ. It is thus evident that the kingdom of Jesus has an entirely different character, an entirely different object than any kingdom or government in the world. Pilate immediately realized and felt this from the explanation of Jesus. Pilate, acquainted with the efforts of the Greek and Roman philosophers to fix truth on the basis of human reason, thought it foolish, in his skeptical mind, for anyone to claim the knowledge of truth as his possession. So he put the jeering question: What is truth? and immediately went out to the Jews and announced to them the result of his investigation, that he found no fault in that man Christ. There was no cause, no reason, for criminal procedure. Note: The position of Pilate is shared by a great many so-called wise and cultured people of this world. They care nothing for the truth, the divine truth, the infallible Word of God. The speculations of foolish philosophers have a higher value in their idea, as gropings after the truth, than the truth of Scriptures. If they at some time or other hear the truth, they turn away from its inviting voice and continue in their sins.
Pilate should now have made an end of the farce, to which he had made far too great concessions as it was. But he was a coward at heart, and the people felt this hesitation. In order to save himself from a disagreeable concession, he now tried to divert the minds of the people into a different channel. He reminded them of a custom which obtained, that they might ask for the release of some prisoner at the Passover. And so he gave them the choice between one Barabbas and Jesus, whom he calls the King of the Jews, thereby only adding new fuel to the fire of hatred that was already raging. The leaders of the Jews had figured on this contingency long before, and had instructed the members of the mob accordingly. The very offer of Pilate was another injustice. For since Jesus had not been convicted in a single point, it was foolish to speak of a deliverance and mercy in His case.. Barabbas the people wanted and no one else, and the vacillation of Pilate played into their hands. The evangelist here adds the note: But Barabbas was a robber and murderer. "Barabbas was a rebel and a murderer, captured during a tumult, and had committed murder in a revolt of the people; and this was not only known throughout the city, but Barabbas had been taken in the act, and by Pilate, as the proper government, thrown into prison. But Jesus was just and innocent, so that His accusers, the Jews, could not attach any wrong to Him. Pilate then, following his own line of reasoning, concludes thus: Since this Jesus did nothing wrong, the Jews will be obliged to ask that I release Him. And again, since Barabbas is a well-known rebel and murderer, the Jews will have to demand that I deal with him according to justice. Thus Pilate reasons as a rational heathen. But the devil turns about and says: Not so, but release to us the rebel and murderer Barabbas, but crucify the righteous and innocent Jesus. " Pilate and the Jewish leaders are here on the same plane, just as the enemies of Christ in our days may be divided into two classes, both of them hostile to the Word: some consider the Christian religion nothing but a harmless fanaticism, others insist that its adherents are dangerous to the state. And in either case they act upon their conviction, as recent events have plainly shown.
Summary.Jesus is captured in Gethsemane and taken, first before Hannas, then before the Sanhedrin, under the chairmanship of Caiaphas, while Peter denies Him three times; in the morning H e
is taken to the judgment-hall of Pilate, where He testifies concerning His kingdom.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on John 18". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent