John 18

Note: After the prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus and His disciples went outside the city to the Garden of Gethsemane. After arriving in Gethsemane, Jesus asked His disciples to sit and wait for Him while He went to pray (Matt. 26:36). He took Peter, James, and John with Him and asked them to stay awake and keep watch with Him (Matt. 26:37). Jesus went a little farther and agonized in prayer to the Father (Matt. 26:39; Luke 22:42-44). After spending time in prayer, Jesus said to the disciples, “Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matt. 26:46).


18:1 When [after] he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.

18:2 Now Judas, who betrayed [to deliver over] him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.

18:3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers [the temple police] and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

18:4 Jesus, knowing [indicates Jesus was not caught by surprise] all that was going to happen to him, went out [did not wait to be apprehended but voluntarily confronted His enemies] and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

18:5 “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he [literally “I am” – a declaration of His deity (as in Jn. 8:58)],” Jesus said. (And Judas [had spent three years with Jesus, yet knew very little about Him] the traitor [identified Jesus with a kiss: cf. Matt. 26:48-49] was standing there with them.)

18:6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

18:7 Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

18:8 “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. “If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”

18:9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost [to perish] one of those you gave me.”

18:10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

18:11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put [scabbard: here the receptacle into which a thing is put] your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

18:12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested [to seize, to take into custody] Jesus. They bound him

18:13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.

18:14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good [advantageous] if one man died for the people.

18:15 Simon Peter and another disciple [probably John] were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s [Caiaphas was the incumbent high priest; his father-in-law Annas was the high priest emeritus] courtyard,

18:16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

18:17 “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” the girl [maidservant] at the door asked Peter [her question phrased in a way that indicated she expected a negative answer]. He replied [gave the anticipated answer], “I am not. [first denial]

18:18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire [charcoal fire] they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.

About Failure
Peter learned some very important lessons as a result of his failure. Note the contrast between Peter and Judas — two men who failed.

Peter denied Jesus
Judas betrayed Jesus

Peter wept bitter tears of repentance
Judas committed suicide

Peter accepted the judgement of God
Judas determined his own judgement

Peter made failure a new beginning
Judas made failure the end

18:19 Meanwhile [alternates scene from Peter’s denial to Jesus’ trial], the high priest [Annas, ex-high priest of the Jews] questioned Jesus about his disciples [perhaps to ascertain their number and their activity] and his teaching [perhaps to find fault with Him].

18:20 [Jesus did not answer any questions about His disciples (v. 19), perhaps to protect them from those who would do them harm] “I have spoken [teachings] openly [Jesus was not the leader of a cult or secret organization; He had nothing to hide] to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple [public places and in presence of religious leaders], where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret.

18:21 Why question me? Ask those who heard [in public] me. Surely they know what I said.”

18:22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials [felt Jesus had been disrespectful to the high priest] nearby [to stand along side of] struck [a blow on the face with the flat of the hand; an illegal act since no sentence had been passed] him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded [supposing that Jesus had shown contempt for the high priest].

18:23 [Jesus defended Himself, for He had been slapped unjustly; cf. Acts 23:2-5] “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify [produce some evidence of it] as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

18:24 Then Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.

18:25 As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it [Peter’s second denial], saying [emphatically], “I am not.

18:26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man [Malchus (Jn. 18:10)] whose ear Peter had cut off [Jn. 18:10-11], challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the olive grove? [this question phrased in a way that an affirmative answer was expected]

18:27 Again Peter denied it [third denial; cf. Matt. 26:74], and at that moment a rooster began to crow [Jesus “turned and looked straight at Peter” (Lk. 22:61); Peter went out and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75; Mk. 14:72; Lk. 22:60-62)].

Note: What situations might cause you to deny knowing Jesus?

18:28 Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover [not necessarily referring to the main Passover meal but the remaining meals that will be taken in the Passover season].

18:29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges [accusation] are you bringing against this man?”

18:30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”

18:31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected.

18:32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating [signifying] the kind of death he was going to [to be about to] die would be fulfilled.

18:33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you [emphatic] the king [Jews used this term to mean their religious ruler] of the Jews [Pilate could not reconcile the character of Jesus with the charge brought against Him]?”

18:34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked [rather than answering Pilate, Jesus challenged him], “or did others talk to you about me [not certain if Pilate was truly interested or merely following a legal procedure]?”

18:35 “Am I a Jew [reply expressed disdain, sarcasm, indignation: literally “I am not a Jew am I?”]?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done [Pilate wanted to know what Jesus had done to arouse the hatred of His accusers]?”

18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom [Jesus answered clearly, stating that He was indeed a king; kingdom refers to all Jesus had done and would do as God’s Son and all that is under His authority] is not of this world [does not originate in the world; did not have a geographic locality]. If it were, my servants would fight [they would be fighting now; but, as it was, Jesus had no militant followers ready to form an army; Jesus was a king, but no political or military threat to Roman authority] to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now [“but as it is” or “but as the case now stands”] my kingdom is from another place [a spiritual realm].”

18:37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate [perhaps bewildered]. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason [Jesus did not enter the world for any political purpose] I was born [indicates His humanity], and for this I came into [indicates His deity, that He existed before He “came into the world”] the world, [reason why Jesus had come to earth] to testify [to bear testimony] to the truth. Everyone on the side of [devoted to] truth listens to me.”

Note: Pilate drew conclusions about Christ but had no convictions about Him. What are the differences between conclusions and convictions?

18:38 “What is truth?” Pilate [closer to the truth than he realized] asked [do not know Pilate’s attitude here, but since he did not wait for an answer, it is likely he asked the question in a facetious, scornful, or cynical way]. With this [because he did not wait for an answer, Pilate lost his best opportunity to find eternal life] he went out again to the Jews and said [declared Jesus innocent of any crime], “I find no basis for a charge [Jesus had not transgressed any law that would have made Him liable to punishment] against him.

18:39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

18:40 They shouted [screamed] back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.

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