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John had recorded all that Jesus needed to tell his disciples, and also his final prayers. Now the emphasis changes and what follows is John’s eye-witness account of the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. We should remember that John’s Gospel supplements the other Gospels and never attempts to be a complete historical record, so some events are omitted and others are uniquely found here.


Read verses 1-12

1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’

5 ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied.

‘I am he,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said,‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.

7 Again he asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’

‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they said.

8 Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.’ 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: ‘I have not lost one of those you gave me.’

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.)

11 Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’

12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.


1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 


The Mount of Olives, mentioned in 2 Samuel 15:30, faces the Temple Mount across the Kidron valley. It has been suggested that its sides once accommodated many olive groves including one known to Jesus as ‘The garden of Gethsemane’. Today one small area remains, containing olive trees some of which are nearly 1000 years old.


3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.


Since ancient times, descendants of Levi were assigned the task of Guarding the Temple and its treasures. The Romans had allowed the Jews to maintain a small detachment of their own soldiers, specifically for the purpose of guarding the Temple but also to maintain law and order amongst their own people (see Acts 4:1). But numbers were strictly limited ensuring that there were never enough to pose a threat to the occupying forces.


This meant that to provide suitable numbers to arrest Jesus, and maybe to fight off his supporters, ‘officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees’ were also used (v10) to swell the numbers. Not the priests and Pharisees themselves of course (there could be violence), but their officials and servants.


Judas had left the meal in the upper room during the evening. He would have met with members of the Sanhedrin who authorised the arrest of Jesus, and would have had to wait while a group of men were assembled to provide the arrest party. By the time they reached Gethsemane it would probably have been the middle of the night.


4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’

5 ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied.

‘I am he,’ Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6 When Jesus said, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.


From the beginning of his final week, Jesus has been in control. He knew that

the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’ (John 12:23) and he was determined that events would run their course. In the upper room he had instructed Judas ‘what you are about to do, do quickly’. As he prayed he had repeated ‘the hour has come’ (17:1) and he had led his disciples to his place of arrest. Now he left his disciples and walked out to meet the approaching group.


Who would be at the front?

Judas, the officials, or perhaps the temple guards first?


Jesus only spoke two words: ‘I am’ (‘he’ was added by the translators) the same two words he had used in John 8:28 and of course to the Jews these were the name of God himself (Exodus 3:14).


What power is contained in the name? Obviously it caused the men, in the darkness, to recoil and their knees gave way in the presence of God.


Remember John 7:45-46 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn’t you bring him in?’

‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards replied.


Jesus made no attempt to escape, so when the men had composed themselves


7 Again he asked them, ‘Who is it you want?’

‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ they said.

8 Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.’ 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: ‘I have not lost one of those you gave me.’


Jesus was in control and gave instruction to his captors who seemed happy to comply. It appears that by now the disciples had followed Jesus out of the garden and Peter could not stand idly by watching his master being arrested.


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)

Luke 22:51 records that Jesus immediately healed the man.


11 Jesus commanded Peter, ‘Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?’


Poor Peter: faced with a crowd intent to drag Jesus away, he identifies himself as a follower of Jesus and tries to defend him. No says Jesus, that’s wrong.

Later, in the courtyard when faced by a servant girl, he denies he ever knew Jesus. That’s wrong too!


Jesus had just spent his the last few hours explaining that he had to obey his father’s will: he had to die for the sins of the world (John 14:29-31). He was determined that nothing would stand in his way – especially his own disciples, so he allowed himself to be officially arrested.


12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 

14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.


Some have suggested that the soldiers were Roman, but that would have meant that it was a Roman prosecution, and Jesus would have been taken straight to Pilate. As it was, it seems that there was uncertainty concerning what to do with Jesus now he had been arrested. To Jewish minds, the most senior authority was still Annas.


Herod Archelaeus, son of Herod the great was deposed in 6 AD when Judea became a province under direct Roman rule. Annas was appointed by the Romans as High Priest and he had almost regal status and authority, and enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle. He also appointed his five sons as high priests. He was deposed (again by the Romans) ten years later and replaced by Caiaphas who had married one of Annas’ daughters.


‘They bound him and brought him first to Annas,’

Only John records this first meeting – possibly because he knew Annas personally (v16). It appears that Annas’ house would have been a very imposing mansion with a large walled courtyard – like a palace.


Now read 15-24

15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 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 servant-girl on duty there and brought Peter in.

17 ‘You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?’ she asked Peter.

He replied, ‘I am not.’


How odd that Peter should have replied like this. From the girl’s question it seems that she knew that John was a disciple. But the wording of the question almost assumes that she expected him to answer ‘no’. Thrown off guard, being brought into ‘enemy territory’ and surrounded by many of the arresting party, he took the easy option.


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


The soldiers had obviously taken their prisoner inside. What would the rest of the arresting party do? They weren’t going to go home, so they set to and built a bonfire to warm themselves as they awaited developments. Peter, it seems, mingled with the party trying to be inconspicuous.


19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.

20 ‘I have spoken openly to the world,’ Jesus replied. ‘I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.’


The near regal status of Annas meant that he would never have mingled with the people, and would never have had opportunity to have heard Jesus or his disciples preach. He wanted to know exactly what had prompted Jesus’ arrest. Jesus knew that if Annas had truly been interested in his message he would have asked those who had heard him; but he wasn’t actually bothered, so Jesus was not going to help him.


22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials near by slapped him in the face. ‘Is this the way you answer the high priest?’ he demanded. 23 ‘If I said something wrong,’ Jesus replied, ‘testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?’ 


Although Annas bore the title ‘High Priest’, Jesus was unimpressed.

Why do you think that was? What was the function of a priest?

The function of a priest was to mediate between God and Man

What specifically could only the high priest do?

Hebrews 9:7 ‘But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance(see also ‘Day of Atonement’  - Leviticus chapter 16).

But read on – Hebrews 9:11-12 ‘But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation.  He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, so obtaining eternal redemption.’


Annas had been appointed to his position by the Romans, not by God, and they had subsequently deposed him too. Actually Jesus had more authority to question Annas about his motives and actions!


24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Caiaphas, as son in law of Annas, obviously had apartments within Annas’ palace and it was to them that Jesus was taken next. This also was where the Sanhedrin met. (Mark 14:66)


The other gospels tell us that members of the Sanhedrin: chief priests, elders and teachers of the law, met with Caiaphas early in the morning, looking for evidence they could use against Jesus, and planning what to do with him next.  


25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, ‘You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?’

He denied it, saying, ‘I am not.’

26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, ‘Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?’ 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a cock began to crow.


Peter had started on the slippery slope of denial. One lie often leads to another to support it, and so on. Peter’s casual ‘no’ to a girl at the gate now descended into full-blown denial of Christ:


Read Matthew 26:72-75

72 ‘He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’

73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.’

74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’

Immediately a cock crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly’.


We were performing an unrehearsed Easter play in a large hall with chairs and tables set out to represent the whole of Jerusalem. The actor playing Peter, having left ‘the courtyard’ had no directions as to where to go. He thought he’d better return to the ‘upper room’ but by the time he got there he found that he was so moved in his character as Peter, he couldn’t regain the close fellowship with Jesus that he had experienced earlier at the last supper scene. He just couldn’t go inside. He was an artist, and he was inspired to paint a picture expressing his feeling of desolation – outside the door, but unable to enter.

http://www.christian-art.org.uk



28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 


Pilate’s palace was the home of Gentiles, and it would not have been cleansed of unleavened bread – both things that would have defiled Jews who entered it.

How ironic that the religious leaders wanted to be ceremonially clean enough to celebrate the sacrifice of the lamb that had bought the Israelites freedom from slavery, on the very day that the Lamb of God would be sacrificed for the cleansing and salvation of the whole world.





John 17aJohn 18b








John 18:1-28  Jesus is arrested and taken to
                     Annas and Caiaphas

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