Study Guide

Gospel of John Chapter 18

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Chapter 18

The Not-So-Secret Garden

  • After Jesus says all these nice things, he and his disciples go to the Kidron Valley where there's a garden. Think Jesus might spend a leisurely evening watering some roses? Not so much.
  • Judas leads a group of soldiers to the garden to arrest Jesus. They're carrying torches and all kinds of weapons, so they clearly mean business.
  • Jesus, of course, knows that this is all going to happen. Probably because he's been building up to this moment for the last three years. The men come into the garden and Jesus identifies himself. He'll go quietly, but Jesus wants the soldiers to let the disciples go unharmed.
  • Not so fast, Jesus. Peter springs into action. He whips out a sword and cuts off one of the soldiers' ears. Well, then.
  • Jesus quickly does a little damage control. He tells Peter to cool it and put the sword away. This is what God wants to happen, remember? 
  • The soldiers and the temple police tie up Jesus's hands and lead him away.

Denial: The First Stage of Grief

  • The first place they take Jesus is to the house of Annas. Annas is the father-in-law of Caiaphas (the high priest from chapter 11) and a former high priest himself.
  • Peter follows Jesus there, but has to wait outside the gate to the house. The woman guarding the gate sees Peter and asks if he was one of the people she has seen following Jesus. Peter denies that he is. Strike one.
  • Meanwhile, inside the house, Annas questions Jesus about his disciples and the things he taught.
  • But Jesus isn't too big on keeping secrets. They've all heard what he had to say before. Are they seriously going over all this again?
  • One of the soldiers doesn't think Jesus's answer is very respectful, so he gives Jesus a smack. Literally.
  • Whoa, Jesus says. I'm just telling the truth over here. What's the deal?
  • While this is all happening inside the house, Peter is still outside, warming himself by a fire. There are other people standing around, trying to keep warm, too. One of them asks him if he is one of Jesus' disciples. Again, Peter denies that he is. Strike two.
  • Another guy starts to question him, too. He happens to be related to the solider whose ear Peter cut off and was there when they arrested Jesus. "Didn't I see you in the garden with him?" he asks Peter. But Peter denies it again. Must have been his evil twin. As he says this, a rooster crows in the distance. That's strike three. You're out, buddy.

Trials and Tribulations

  • The soldiers take Jesus to see Caiaphas, and from there, they take him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman emperor of the province of Judea. It's his job to determine an appropriate sentence for Jesus. That's some heavy responsibility.
  • The religious authorities are there, of course. Except they won't go inside Pilate's house. It's going to be Passover soon and they want to avoid "ritual defilement," so they remain outside. Good luck with that, guys.
  • Pilate wants to know what Jesus has done. The religious authorities tell him that Jesus is nothing more than a common criminal. Guys like him need to be off the streets for good.
  • Well, Pilate tells them, if he's a criminal, then sentence him yourself under Jewish law. Problem solved.
  • Ah, but the religious authorities aren't allowed to put anyone to death under Jewish law. They won't settle for anything less than execution. Not a lot of sympathy from these guys.
  • So, Pilate goes back inside and questions Jesus. Is he "the King of the Jews?"
  • Did you come up with that on your own? Jesus asks. Or is that just what you've been hearing around town?
  • Pilate tells Jesus that he could care less what the Jews say. He isn't a Jew. But, if Jesus's own people turned him in, he must have done something terrible. What is it?
  • Jesus answers that his kingdom is not in this world. If it were, he wouldn't be in this predicament.
  • Oh, so you are a king? Pilate asks. Now we're getting somewhere.
  • Jesus tells him he was just born to tell the truth. He'll swear to that on a stack of Bibles.
  • "What is truth?" Pilate asks, but we never get any answer. Too bad—we'd like to know.
  • Again, Pilate goes outside and tells the religious authorities that he can't figure out what Jesus has done wrong. He's feeling generous today, so he'll release one prisoner. How about Jesus?
  • No way. The religious authorities immediately shout that they want a thief named Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. So much for keeping the dangerous criminals off the streets.

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