The Way - Day 199 (John 18)

Daily Reading:
John 18
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
As you read through chapter 18, is it easy or difficult for you to remember that Jesus has been and will always be in control of circumstances? When you are facing trouble and don't know the outcome are you able to focus on the truth that Jesus already knows the outcome? Discuss among the group your past/current struggles in remembering Jesus is in control, share any testimony you may have on the subject of Jesus' control over all things.
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 96:2-3
OPTION 2: Proverbs 23:13-14
OPTION 3: Matthew 7:3-4
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for John 18 (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
JOHN 18:1-27
Since chapter 13, John closely followed the instructions Jesus gave to His disciples prior to His death. But in John 18 the narrative begins again with Jesus and the disciples entering the Garden of Gethsemane (18:1). John mentions that Judas knew this place well because Jesus often retreated there with His disciples (18:2). Having a good idea of Jesus' location, Judas brings "a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, [who] came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons" (18:3). Although Jesus knew why Judas had gathered this group, He asked whom they were seeking (18:4). John records the rest of the conversation for us.

"They answered Him, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' Jesus said to them, 'I am He.' And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, 'I am He,' they drew back and fell to the ground" (18:5-6).

Jesus' response was more than an identification of Himself, but also a declaration that He was God. Some think it is odd that Jesus would repeat His first question again, but as the reader follows John's narrative, he is given a little more insight.

"Then He asked them again, 'Whom are you seeking?' And they said, 'Jesus of Nazareth.' Jesus answered, 'I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,' that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, 'Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none'" (18:7-9).

Jesus' confirmation that they were only seeking Him was His way of protecting the disciples from harm. Simon Peter thought he could protect Jesus from being taken captive, so he used his sword "and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear" (18:10). Peter's intentions were noble, but he did not understand that Jesus must be taken captive and put to death to pay the penalty for sin on behalf of mankind. Without Jesus' sacrifice, God's full wrath against sin would have to be poured out upon man. Because God is just, sin must be punished. But because God is gracious, He chose to punish His own Son, Jesus Christ, so that man could be released from the penalty of sin. This truth is captured in Jesus' reaction to Peter's misinformed act of bravery, "Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?" (18:11) Jesus knew that He must drink this cup (a symbol for God's wrath or judgment) to set men free from sin. He would not let anything get in the way of fulfilling God's mission to redeem the world.

The group of people who sought Jesus arrested and led Him away to stand trial before the Sanhedrin, the Supreme court of Israel (18:12-27). John mentions that they first took Him to stand before Annas who was the former high priest and father-in-law to Caiaphas, the current high priest (18:13). Within John's narrative, he documents that "Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple" (18:15). This other disciple was none other than the writer of this particular gospel, John.

"… [John] went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in" (18:15b-16).

Upon entering the courtyard, the girl at the door recognized Peter as one of Jesus' disciples saying, "You are not also one of this Man's disciples, are you?" Peter quickly denied her accusation and then stood with some servants and officers who were warming themselves around the fire. As this was happening, Jesus was being questioned by the high priest about "His disciples and His doctrine" (18:19). In response to his questions Jesus said…

"I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said" (18:20-21).

Jesus was not leading some secret following. All of His teachings had been public and the answers the high priest was seeking were readily available to anyone. At the center of the religious leaders' questioning was their disbelief that Jesus Christ was God. An officer who was nearby when Jesus answered the high priest hit Jesus with the palm of his hand. Jesus quickly demanded his reason for striking Him saying, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?" (18:22-23). Jesus was only requesting a fair trial; however, the religious leaders had no desire to hear what Jesus had to say.

Considering that he had not made any progress with Jesus, Annas sent Him to the official high priest, Caiaphas, who would have to make a decision about any legal actions taken against Jesus (8:24). John returns to a parallel scene which he has been following for the duration of Jesus' questioning. Peter had been following Jesus' every move.
"…now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, 'You are not also one of His disciples, are you?' He denied it and said, "I am not!'" (18:25).

This is Peter's second denial.

"…one of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, 'Did I not see you in the garden with Him?' Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed" (18:27).

Matthew mentions that Peter then remembered the words spoken to him by Jesus, "so he went out and wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:75).

John's reporting of Peter's denial is very significant because his readers can relate with Peter's lack of faith and faltering courage. Although Peter loved Jesus, he feared where his association with Jesus would take him. Can you identify with this feeling?

JOHN 18:28-40
Jesus had been taken captive by the Roman soldiers and religious leaders (18:1-11), who believed that His teachings were blasphemous (18:19). In their minds, Jesus was not God nor was He the Messiah who had been promised to the people of Israel and the world (Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:1-3). Instead of accepting Him for who He really was, the religious leaders were doing everything in their power to bring false accusations against Him so they could put Him to death (11:53). Following Jesus' arrest, He was passed back and forth between the former high priest (Annas) and the reigning high priest (Caiaphas). They did their best to bring a charge against Jesus, but their questioning did not get the desired results. In the midst of Jesus' interrogation, John also follows another story line which is taking place simultaneously. Peter, one of the twelve disciples, had been tracking Jesus' movements to see what would come of Him, but people continued to recognize him as a follower of Jesus. Each time someone identified Peter as a disciple, he denied it. Peter’s denial was a fulfillment to Jesus' earlier prophecy that Peter would deny Him three times (13:38). When Peter remembered Jesus' words, he "wept bitterly" (Matthew 26:75).

The angry mob that arrested Jesus took Him from the presence of the high priest, Caiaphas, to the residence (Praetorium) of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor (18:28). Since the Jews could not take legal action to put Jesus to death, their visit to the Roman governor was significant. If they could convince Pilate that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy, they might have a chance at destroying Him. It is also noteworthy that the Jews hated Jesus more than Pilate. They detested a Gentile ruling over them, but in this case their jealousy of Jesus' popularity overruled their hatred of Roman rule.

Pilate met with the Jews in the courtyard and inquired about why they were bringing an accusation against Jesus (18:29). The Jews answered that Jesus was an evildoer who was worthy of death (18:30-32). Inviting Jesus into his residence, Pilate asked Him if He was the King of the Jews. Rather than answering the question, Jesus returned a question to Pilate saying, "Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?" (18:34). Underneath Jesus' question to Pilate was whether he viewed Him as a threat to Roman rule; in other words, did Pilate think Jesus was trying to overthrow the Roman government? Making it very clear to Pilate, Jesus declares –

"My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here" (18:36).
Jesus' kingdom was not in fighting against earthly governments, but against sin in the hearts of people. Eventually Jesus would return to earth to defeat sin and set up His kingdom, but until then He was not interested in a rebellion against the political powers of Rome. Pilate responded to Jesus' talk of a kingdom and asked if He was a king.

"You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice" (18:37).

Jesus declares that His kingdom is unlike any other kingdom because it is characterized by truth, which He was sent to declare. Responding to Jesus' words, Pilate tells the Jews, "I find no fault in Him at all" (18:38).

Although Pilate declared Jesus' innocence, he set in motion a series of decisions to avoid being hated by the Jews. First, Pilate sends Jesus to Herod thinking maybe he could take responsibility for the situation (recorded in Luke 23:6-12), but Herod sends him back to Pilate. When Pilate realizes that this situation was not quickly going away, he presented a scenario where a prisoner would be released out of mercy (18:39). Pilate gave them two choices: release Jesus or release Barabbas, who was a robber (18:40). Pilate underestimated the influence of the religious leaders upon the crowd who had gathered for Passover, so they cried out to allow Barabbas to be set free (18:40).