Jesus knew this was the last night everyone was going to be together. He knew that the time ahead was going a struggle for his disciples because they would not know what was going on. Last week we took a look at the prayer Jesus gave for his disciples before the evening’s events would finish. This week is the beginning of the end. From here on out Jesus is moving towards the Cross.
After he spent time in prayer, Jesus took the disciples to a garden that he would normally meet with the disciples in Jerusalem. While there, Judas brought men from the Temple and the local Roman garrison to find Jesus. When they arrived, Jesus asked who they were looking for. They informed the group they were looking, Him. Jesus responded “I am He” (John 18:5, NASB), and the entire group fell down backwards at his proclamation. When they got back to their feet and attempted to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and cut off one of the men’s ears. Jesus instructed Peter to put away his sword saying, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?” (John 18:11, NASB).
“Let not your peace rest in the utterances of men, for whether they put a good or bad construction on your conduct does not make you other than you are.”
— Thomas a Kempis
After being arrested, Jesus was taken to Annas, the father-in-law of the current high priest. Annas must have been a high priest previously, because he is referred to as “high priest” in this chapter, even after we know that Caiaphas is the current high priest. Annas questions Jesus about his teachings, looking for some fault or secret teaching. Jesus responds, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret” (John 18:20, NASB). When Annas realized there was nothing he could gain from Jesus, he sent him to Caiaphas.
“Don’t be afraid. Don’t turn on the fluorescent lights. Sit in the dark for a while. Pray. Get back to basics. Accept the journey your doubt wants to take you on. Accept the journey Jesus wants to take you on using your doubts”
— Austin Fischer
Because of the oncoming Passover celebration, the Jews chose not to enter the Praetorium because the did not want to become ritually unclean. Yet they brought Jesus to the Praetorium in order for him to receive Roman justice. Pilate came out to them and asked, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” (John 18:29, NASB). There response was essentially, “Nothing, but he’s a bad guy!” Pilate wanted them to punish Jesus on their own terms but they responded, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death” (John 18:31, NASB). After questioning Jesus on his own, Pilate offered to release a prisoner, as was his custom. The Jews chose to release Barabbas, who was a thief.
“The Kingdom of God is not going to be advanced by our churches becoming filled with me, but by men in our churches becoming filled with God.”
— Duncan Campbell
Jesus gets asked a lot of questions in this chapter. If anything, I might claim that to be the theme of what is happening. First people are asking for him. Then they ask about what he taught. Then they ask about who he is. Jesus is constantly questions, but his answers remain fairly consistent. He is Jesus, and he has no secrets. People may read this chapter and question why Jesus is not defending himself or his actions; some might even say that this is all to fulfill prophecy. I think this is Jesus not wasting his breath. He has spent three years traveling and teaching among his people. He has done it openly and without restriction. Yet he stands before the high priest and the Roman government accused of false doctrine and being a bad guy. I think Jesus chooses to respond this way, because if any of these accusations were true, why had he not been arrested much earlier? His teaching had not changed. He had not hidden away from people seeking him out. Jesus recognized the game and chose not to play.
Something that I do not think is said enough, it is ok to ask questions. Too many people seem to think that Christians have all the answers. Everyone is Jesus’ life knew him as a person. They knew that he was the son of Mary and Joseph and had brothers and sisters. They knew that he was a person that seemed to have knowledge of God, but yet they still asked questions of who he was. The Church has spent the last couple millennia trying to answer these questions. Do you have doubts? Do you have questions? Even if you are someone of faith, and had faith for years, you may still find yourself asking questions. I think questions are good and healthy for our faith in Christ. If you have questions, do not be afraid to ask. Find someone who you can trust to answer these questions. Ask a pastor. Ask a theologian. Ask someone at your church. Do not get discouraged by your answers, just keep looking for answers.