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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
John 18

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-9

John 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.

Our Lord could not cross that “brook Cedron” without being reminded of the time when David went that way in the hour of his sorrow, though he knew that he had to face a far greater trial than that of David. The very brook would remind him of his approaching sacrifice, for through it flowed the blood and refuse from the temple.

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

The place of our Lord’s frequent retirement for private prayer was well known to Judas, who had often gone there with his Lord and his fellow disciples.

John 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.

How completely the traitor must have been in the power of Satan, and how hardened and callous he must have grown, that he could lead “thither” the men who were going to arrest the Saviour! Truly it was by wicked hands that Christ was taken, and crucified, and slain; yet, unconsciously, these evil men were carrying out “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” How strangely were they equipped for their deed of darkness! “With lanterns and torches and weapons.” They were coming to the Light of the world bearing “lanterns and torches”; and armed with “weapons” that they might use against “the Lamb of God.” If he had wished to deliver himself, all their “weapons” would have been in vain, and their “lanterns and torches” would not have revealed him, even with the help of the full moon, which was probably shining at the time.

John 18:4-5. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.

Notice, dear friends, that the word “he” is in italics, showing that it is not in the original. Our Lord here twice used the name of Jehovah, I AM,— as he did on certain other memorable occasions. It was most fitting that, as he was going out to die, he should declare that it was no mere man who was about to suffer on the cross, but that, while he was truly man, he was also “very God of very God.”

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

The simple utterance of his name drove them from him, and smote them to the earth; what would have happened if he had put forth his almighty power?

John 18:7-9. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.

This exposition consisted of readings from John 17.; and John 18:1-9.


Verses 1-14

John 18:1. When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron,

A dark, foul brook, through which flowed the blood and refuse from the temple. King David crossed that brook one night in bitter sorrow; and now the Saviour crossed it when it was near to midnight: “He went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron.”

John 18:1-2. Where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.

Our Lord went there to pray, and Judas knew that this was his custom. Are we such men of prayer that others know where we pray? Have you some familiar place where you go to meet your Lord? I am afraid that many know where we trade, and many know where we preach, but perhaps, few know where we pray. God grant that we may be often at the mercy-seat! We should be better men and women if we were more frequently at the throne of grace.

John 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.

“Lanterns” to give light to the Sun, “torches” to find out the Light of the world; “Weapons” with which to fight with the Lamb of God, the unarmed Sufferer. Strange treatment this for him who came to save and bless!

John 18:4-5. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should came upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he.

Or, “I am.” It is remarkable that Jesus should, in his betrayal, twice use this expression, thus uttering the very name of Jehovah.

John 18:5. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.

What a hardened wretch he must have been to be able to stand with them! One would have thought that, having betrayed his Master, he would have hidden himself away for shame, but no, “Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.” His heart must have been steeled.

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

Christ’s almighty power cast them down at once. He needed not to lift his hand or even his finger; he only said, “I am,” and “they went backward, and fell to the ground.”

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

Do they return again to the fray? Having once felt Christ’s divine power, do they summon courage enough to attack him again? Yes, for there is no limit to the malice and impudence of the human heart.

John 18:8-10. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. Then Simon Peter—

Always ready to boil over, ever full of zeal and rash impetuosity, Peter —

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

Peter struck at his head; he was not content with trying to wound, he meant to kill Malchus, and he did “cut off his right ear.”

John 18:11-14. 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 the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

Saying a great deal more than he thought he was saying, for he uttered a great Gospel truth when he said, “It was expedient that one man should die for the people.”

This exposition consisted of readings from John 17:1-12; John 18:1-14.


Verses 1-27

John 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.

From our Lord’s example, we should learn, when trouble is near, to meet it with composure. Our Saviour did not sit still; but, as the hour approached for his betrayal and death, “he went forth with his disciples.” The passing over the black brook of Cedron, through which flowed the filth of the temple, was very significant. King David had crossed that brook long before when he had been driven from his home by Absalom’s rebellion, and now the greater David went “over the brook Cedron, where was a garden.” He specially wanted solitude just then, for one of the best preparations for suffering is to get alone with God. Learn this lesson also from your Lord’s example, and as he put Gethsemane before Calvary, if you can put an hour of prayerful contemplation before your expected suffering, it will be a great help to you.

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

That dark and gloomy olive garden was no pleasure garden that night. It had often been a place of retirement and of prayer for the Master. What happy memories his disciples must have had of being with him there for a season of prayer! It was a very choice privilege for them to be with him when he preached, but it must have been, if possible, a still greater privilege to be with him when he prayed. It is not recorded that his disciples ever said to him, “Lord, teach us how to preach;” but at least one of them was so struck with his prayers that he said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” We may well ask him to do that for us now. Perhaps some of you would like to be taught how you can become great; it is much more important for you to be taught to become prayerful.

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

It does not matter much about the band of men and officers with lanterns and torches and weapons, but the dreadful part of the narrative is that they were led by one who had been a disciple of Christ, one who had been numbered with the apostles. Is Christ still betrayed by his professed friends? Yes, it is so, but may you and I never be guilty of that terrible crime! Yet why should we not unless the grace of God should prevent it? We are of the same flesh and blood as Judas; and although we might not be tempted by a sum of money, we may be tempted by a sinful pleasure or by a sinful shame. Lest we should be led astray, let us pray that we may not enter into temptation, and especially ask that we may be preserved from betraying our Lord, as Judas did.

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

Because of his divinity, be knew all that would come upon him, but what a wondrous manhood his was that, although he knew all that would befall him, he went forth calm and composed, resigned to his Father’s will and said to those who had come to seize him, “Whom seek ye?” I think he is saying to some of us, “whom seek ye?” We have not come here to slay him; we have not come here to fight against him, and lead him away to crucify him; yet I hope that we can truly say that we have come seeking Jesus. If this be really your heart’s desire, it shall surely be fulfilled to you.

John 18:5. They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he.

Or, rather, “I Am,” pronouncing the words with a divine dignity which had a startling effect upon them.

John 18:5-6. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

It seems as if our Lord intended to let them realize something of his divine power and glory, for the utterance of that august expression, I am which is his Father’s name, staggered them, and they fell to the ground. Do you not wonder that they did not rise up, and go away and leave him after they had fallen at his feet and asked his forgiveness? They did not so act, for the power of fear when it is not accompanied by love is very small. There was enough power in it to make them fall down to the ground, but there was not power enough in it to make them fall at Christ’s feet confessing their sin.

John 18:7-8. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:

It is very cheering to us to think of our Lord meeting all the enemies of his people, gathering up all their weapons into his own heart that his people might go free. You and I, if we had been in such a case, would have been hurried and worried, and our fears would have made us selfish. We should have forgotten our poor friends who were with us; but Jesus thought not of himself, he thought of his poor trembling disciples, and therefore he said, “If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way.”

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

He had only said that just a little while before, but this verse shows us that the New Testament is as sure to be fulfilled as the Old Testament. It was a new saying, not then written, yet it had all the life and power of God in it; so it must live, and must be fulfilled.

John 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.

Here is every prospect of a fight. Simon Peter has begun it, and the armed men will be eager to continue it. We always have our Simon Peters about, — men of emotion, men of impulse, men of impetuosity. They are not a bad sort of Christians, and I do not know what we should do without them. Our cold, frozen thinkers would not do much without our warmhearted Peters to help to thaw them. Still, Peter was only one of the twelve apostles; and though they call him the head of the church, he made a very poor head of the church just then. He drew a sword, and began to use that carnal weapon by cutting off the right ear of Malchus. It was a great mercy that the Lord was there to heal the ear, and to forbid the use of the sword in his defense.

John 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?

Here is another helpful lesson for any of you who have a trial before you. Do not seek to set the trial aside, use no wrong means to escape from affliction; drink your ordained cup. Though Peter’s sword is handy, put it up into its sheath, and do not use it. Bear and forbear, on and on and on to the end of the chapter. Drink the cup that your Father gives you. However bitter it is, it is sweetened by the fact that he gives it to you. Shall not a true son of God drink the cup that his Father presents to him? There can be no harm in it, and it must work you some real good; so put up your sword, and lift the cup to your lips, and drink it to the dregs.

John 18:12. Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, —

When you are bound with sickness, or bound with weakness, or bound in any other way, do not complain. Your Master was bound, and I think we ought to be willing to be anything that Christ was. What was good enough for him is good enough for us. “They took Jesus, and bound him,” —

John 18:13-14. And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

Christ could not die without the question of expediency turning up. I never knew any great sin in the world, nor any great heresy, nor any great combination of men to maintain it without the question of expediency coming under consideration. Expediency is the great Christ-killer. Many nowadays say to us, “Do not preach against error; it is not expedient to do so. Do not break away from evil associations; it is not expedient.” How many there are of even good men who do certain thing, not because they are right, but because they are expedient! But, believers in Jesus, in the name of your Lord I implore you to hate expediency, since it put Christ to death. It was a wicked expediency that would murder Christ in order to save a nation; but it did not really do so after all, for the guilt of slaying Christ brought upon the nation the glaring crime of deicide.

John 18:10. 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.

This other disciple was, no doubt, John, who thus veiled himself as he did on other occasions.

John 18:16. But Peter stood at the door without.

It would have been better for him if he had kept there, he would probably have been more out of the way of temptation than he was inside the palace of the high priest.

John 18:16. 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 doubtless acted thus out of kindness to Peter, but he was the means of bringing his friend into a place where he was not strong enough to keep his feet. You and may act like that, perhaps, in perfect innocence, and even with commendable kindness; yet we may be unintentionally doing our friends a great wrong. I notice that John seems to have been the first of the apostles to associate with Peter after that terrible fall of his; and in his record of Peter’s denial of his Lord he does not mention his cursing and swearing as Matthew and Mark do. He appears to have felt great tenderness towards Peter; perhaps all the more so because he had been the innocent means of getting him into the place of temptation.

John 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.

As, Peter! Ah, myself! If anyone is trusting in himself, he may soon utter a falsehood concerning his Lord, as Peter did. Keep us, O God, by thy grace, or else it will be so with us. It was nothing but a poor maidservant that cowed this brave Peter; the man whose sword was drawn just now in his Master’s defense is not able truthfully to answer the maid’s question, “Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not.”

John 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.

While his Lord and Master was being maltreated and abused over yonder at the end of the hall, Peter was warming himself at the servant’s fire. Ah! he was getting cold spiritually while warming himself physically; and it sometimes happens that, when men are warming their bodies, they are at the same time cooling their hearts. I have known a man warm himself at a very big fire through coming into possession of a large amount of property, but he has also grown very cold spiritually for these coals of fire do not warm the heart.

John 18:19-21. The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples and of his doctrine. 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. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto thee: behold, they know what I said.

Our Lord’s teaching was never deceptive, he did not say one thing and mean another. He could truly appeal to his hearers concerning his teaching. It is a great thing for a preacher to be able to feel that his hearers know what he has said to them. We cannot always say that, for some of them forget, and some of them do not understand what we say. Some of them do not give sufficient attention to know what it is that is said, but Christ’s preaching was so clear and plain that he could truly say, “Ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.”

John 18:22-23. 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?

Jesus answered him, Not as Paul did, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall.” The Master is superior to the disciple at all points. Jesus said: —

John 18:23. If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

Let us pray that, whenever we are despitefully treated, we may keep our temper, and be as composed as our Lord was; and if we must make an answer to our accusers, let it be as discreet and as justifiable as this answer of our Lord was.

John 18:24; John 18:26. Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself.

John thus resumes the narrative concerning Peter from the 17th verse:

“Simon Peter stood and warmed himself.”

John 18:25. They said therefore unto him.

Two or three or more of them speaking at a time said to him: —

John 18:26-27. Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. 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? Peter then denied again:

Ah, me! they who lie once will be all too apt to lie again; those who deny Christ once will be apt to go to still greater lengths in their denial of him. May they be stopped as Peter was!

John 18:27. And immediately the cock crew.

May the cock crow for some who have been asleep up till now, and warn them that the night is far spent, and that it is time for them to awake out of sleep, and wash their eyes with tears, and repent of having denied their Lord!


Verses 12-24

The passages, which we are about to read from three of the Evangelists, make up a continuous narrative of our Lord’s trial before the high priest. First, John gives us an account of our Saviour’s appearance before Annas, of which I need not say much, as I recently preached upon it.

John 18:12-14. Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that came year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

John 18:19-21. The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 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. Why askest thou me? Ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.

What an admirable answer that was! Whatever he might have said about his doctrine, they would have twisted into a ground of accusation against him, so he simply said, “Mine has been public teaching, open to all. I was not found in holes and corners, secretly fomenting sedition. I spoke in the streets; I spoke in the synagogue; I spoke in the temple; ask those who heard me to tell you what I said.” What more convincing answer could he have given?

John 18:22-24. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officer, which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of His hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me. Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.

So there we see him standing, bound, before Caiaphas, the acting high priest for that year.

Now follow the narrative as given by Mark. (See Mark 14:53-65)

This exposition consisted of readings from John 18:12-14; John 18:19-26; Mark 14:53-65; and Luke 22:63-71; Luke 3:1.


Verses 12-27

John 18:12-13. Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus and bound him, and led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.

Annas had been high priest before, and he seems to have been regarded still as high priest and to have been a leading spirit amongst the adversaries of Christ. The old sinner would not go to bed that night until he had seen the man whom he hated brought bound before him. Sometimes hatred becomes a more powerful passion than even love; and here, while the disciples of Jesus all fled in terror, Annas, the Saviour’s bitter foe, was wide awake, and awaiting his arrival with those who had taken him captive.

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

Therein uttering a prophecy which he did not himself fully understand, speaking like another Balaam, through whom God spoke the truth, as once he did through the ass that Balaam rode. Sometimes, God makes the basest men the unconscious utterers of truth which they do not themselves comprehend.

John 18:15. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple:

Here is John’s usual modesty, he will not mention his own name, but simply speaks of “another disciple.”

John 18:15-16. That disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without.

John boldly followed Jesus, and so was safe, Peter stood at a distance from his Lord, and so was in danger.

John 18:16-18. 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. 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. 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 was in bad company; while he was warming his body, his soul was growing cold to his Master. Men cannot go into bad company without getting some hurt. It is said by a quaint old writer that, if men go to Ethiopia, they may not become Ethiopians, but by the scorching of the sun they will grow blacker than they were before. It is always better to keep out of harm’s way if we can. He that would not fall into a ditch should take care not to walk near the edge of it; so, if Peter wanted to stand fast, he should not have gone where he would be sure to be tempted.

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

This was a sort of preliminary examination before the Sanhedrin should try him officially.

John 18:20-22. 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. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold they know what I said. 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?

Here we get an exposition of one of Christ’s own sayings. You know that he said, “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Of course, Christ would carry out his own precept, so we see that he did not mean that his disciples were literally to turn the other cheek to those who struck them, but that they were to bear such treatment patiently, and not to give a railing answer. See how Jesus himself turned the other cheek.

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

Nothing could have been more calm or more dignified, and, at the same time, more full of the spirit of forgiveness.

John 18:24-27. Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. 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. 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? Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

We know that the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. He did not speak a word, perhaps lest Peter should fall into the hands of those who were round about him; but his look was sufficient to kindle in Peter the fires of repentance, and he went out to weep bitterly over his shameful denial of his Lord.


Verses 15-27

John 18:15. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple:

That is John, of course; he never mentions his own name if he can help it.

John 18:15-16. That disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. 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.

I always fancy that John had a greater tenderness for Peter because he was the means of getting him into the palace of the high priest. Peter could not have got in if he had been alone, but John was known to the high priest, and so secured his admission. He must always have felt sorry that he took Peter into a place where he was so strongly tried. Hence John sought him out after his great fall; when perhaps the other apostles were inclined to leave him by himself, John cheered him up, and brought him back to the faith.

John 18:17-18. 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. 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.

That was a very dangerous place for Peter to be in; he would have been safer out in the cold.

John 18:25. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself.

Twice over, we are told that, while his Master was being buffeted, Peter stood in the midst of the ribald throng, and warmed himself.

John 18:25-27. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. 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? Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.

Thus was Christ’s prediction literally fulfilled, and thus, by what seems the humble instrumentality of a cock crowing, was Peter brought to repentance. There is many an eloquent divine who has missed the mark when he has been preaching, but God has spoken by a very humble voice. You, dear friend, though you have no gifts of speech, may go and tell the story of Jesus Christ to someone, and God may bring him to repentance through you, as he brought Peter back to himself through the agency of this bird. May God make us all useful, and keep us from falling into transgression as Peter did! Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from Mark 14:27-31; Mark 14:53-54; Mark 14:66-72; and John 18:15-18; John 18:25-27.


Verses 28-38

John 18:28-38. 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. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor we would not have delivered him up unto thee. 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: that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. Then. Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom there 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. 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 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.

Thus did all who came into contact with Jesus bear witness that the Lamb of God was indeed “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.”

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 27:15-54; and John 18:28-38.


Verses 28-40

28; Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment:

That is to say, Pilate’s hall. Pilate, at that time, was probably residing in one of the old and sumptuous palaces of Herod, there holding His court during the time of the Passover.

John 18:28. And it was early;

They were very eager to prove their enmity to Christ; they had spent the night, and the earliest moments of the dawn, in examining their illustrious prisoner, condemning him, and abusing him, and now they were off to Pilate.

John 18:28. And they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

What could defile such wretches at these? Yet they were afraid of ceremonial defilement, though neither afraid nor ashamed to imbrue their hands in the blood of Jesus.

John 18:29. Pilate then went out unto them,

He loathed and detested them, yet, for his own evil purposes, he would yield to their wishes and whims.

John 18:29-30. And said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.

As much as to say, “You may take that for granted. We would not have brought him if he had not done wrong. You need not examine into the matter, we have already heard the evidence, and convicted him, and so saved you all the trouble of trying him; we only bring him here for you to condemn him.”

John 18:31. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law.

“That is your way of doing such things, but it is not a method into which we shall fall. Our law does not condemn a man before it hears the evidence against him. I am not going to be your tool, to put this man to death without hearing what is laid to his charge, and the proofs of his guilt. If you want that done, you must do it yourselves.”

John 18:31. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:

“You Romans have taken from us the power of life and death, and we want him put to death.” There was a clear confession that nothing short of Christ’s death would satisfy them.

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

Crucifixion was a Roman, not a Jewish method of capital punishment, so God overruled the wanton wickedness of the worst of men for the accomplishment of his own eternal purposes, without, however, diminishing their responsibility and guilt in the least degree. It was “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” that Christ was put to death, yet it was “with wicked hands” that they took him, and crucified him.

John 18:33. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

He did not look much like it. There was little enough about his appearance or his apparel to suggest the idea of royalty.

John 18:34-35. Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew?

I can imagine him throwing all the scorn and contempt possible into the question. It was characteristic of the Romans, as we learn from the works of their great writers, that they utterly despised and detested the Jews.

John 18:35-37. Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee, unto me: what hast thou done? 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. 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 unto the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

We might have expected that be would have said, “I came into the world that I might be a king.” But he explains that, as a Witness to the truth, he was a King.

John 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.

He did not want an answer. He merely thought it such an unnecessary piece of trifling to talk about truth, he himself had so slight an idea of what the word might mean, that when he had said, “What is truth?” “he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.” That was the truth about the Truth, from the lips of a man who cared nothing about truth, yet who was compelled to bear this testimony, “I find in him no fault at all.”

John 18:39. But we 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?

Now, Pilate may have thought, if Christ was their King, they would certainly prefer him to a thief and a robber; so he was putting before himself an opportunity of escaping from judging Christ, and before them a test as to whether there really was in them any liking for the Christ, or any possibility of his becoming their King.

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

This exposition consisted of readings from John 18:28-40; and Psalms 2.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on John 18:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/john-18.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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