Bible Teaching – John 18 (8-30-2022)

The following teaching was delivered yesterday over lunch at Mimi’s Cafe at Chandler Blvd. & 101 in Chandler, Arizona to a group of approximately 15 men, preceded by prayer and fellowship and accompanied by discussion prompted by questions. The teaching lasted approximately 45 minutes.

John 18:25-40

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.

28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. 29 Therefore Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”

30 They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” 31 So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” 32 to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.

33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him. 39 But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” 40 So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber.  NASB

Outline

This narrative passage can be divided into 3 sections or topics:

  1. Peter’s denial of Christ
  2. Pilate’s investigation with the Jewish leaders
  3. Pilate’s interrogation of Christ

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed.

This passage (v25-27) records the last 2 of Peter’s denials – his first denial is recorded in John 18:17.  This was a fulfillment of Jesus’s prophecy given at the last supper (John 13:38; Matt 26:34):

John 13:36-38 – Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.”

Peter was so over-confident in himself, saying that he would lay down his life for Jesus.  But here he fell greatly, actually denying Jesus, just as Jesus had predicted.  J.C. Ryle comments on this:


If Peter’s fall has made Christians see more clearly their own great weakness and Christ’s great compassion, then Peter’s fall has not been recorded in vain.


Christ’s 6 Trials

Christ’s Trials

28 Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.

Map of the Events of Christ’s Passion Week

Praetorium in this passage is the headquarters/residence of the Roman military governor (i.e. Pilate).  Pilate’s normal headquarters were in Caesarea, in the palace that Herod the Great had built for himself.  However, Pilate and his predecessors made it a point to be in Jerusalem during the feasts in order to quell any riots.

early” is ambiguous.  Most likely, it refers to around 6:00 AM, since many Roman officials began their day very early and finished by 10:00 or 11:00 AM.

be defiled” – Jewish oral law gives evidence that a Jew who entered the dwelling places of Gentiles became ceremonially unclean.

Here the Jews were, committing grievous sin by handing Jesus over to the Romans for execution, yet they were worried about “defiling themselves” by walking into the Praetorium. Jesus was the true Jewish Messiah and an innocent man.  They “strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24).  As Jesus had said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23, they neglected the more important matters of the law (Justice, Mercy, Faithfulness), they should’ve practiced the latter without neglecting the former!  So, Pilate asks them what their accusation against Jesus is.

29 Therefore Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?”

With the religious phase of the proceedings having concluded in v24, Pilate’s question opened the civil phase of the proceedings against Jesus.

30 They answered and said to him, “If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him to you.” 31 So Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death,” 32 to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.

First off, they didn’t really answer Pilate’s question.  He asked what their accusation was, but they only answered that “He is an evildoer”.  However Pilate, is trying to find out what evidence they have that Jesus is an “evildoer”.  They haven’t given any reasons but have only made an unsubstantiated ad-hominem attack.

Also, it is true that the Jews couldn’t put anyone to death on their own (v31).  The Romans captured Jerusalem in 63 B.C and began direct rule of Judea through a prefect in 6 A.D. At that time the “right to execute” was taken away from the Jews and given to the Roman governor.

By asking the Romans to execute Jesus, that meant crucifixion (instead of stoning), which was exactly the type of death Jesus said He would die (John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32,33) and that was prophesied:


Psalms 22:16 – For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.

Isaiah 53:5 – But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.

Zechariah 12:10 – I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.


33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35 Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?”

Pilate starts his interrogation of Jesus.  He asks Jesus directly if He is the king of the Jews.  Jesus initially side-steps the question and wants to know where Pilate got this information from.  Pilate’s question to Jesus shows that he must’ve known what the accusation was.  The fact that Roman troops were used at the arrest proves that the Jewish authorities communicated something about this case to Pilate in advance.

36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Note – This passage is contained in the earliest (undisputed) fragment of the New Testament (John Ryland’s fragment – P52)

It’s called the John Rylands fragment (because it’s housed in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England). “Scholars date it between A.D. 117–138, but some say it is even earlier. It was found in Egypt – across the Mediterranean from its probable place of composition in Asia Minor – demonstrating that John’s Gospel was copied and had spread quite some distance by the early second century.”  1 side contains part of verses 31-33, on the other part of verses 37-38.

Jesus assures Pilate that He’s not trying to politically displace the Roman emperor, so this is not a legitimate sedition case.  Rather, His kingdom is “not of this world”. 

Q: What lesson can we learn from Jesus’s statement that His kingdom is not of this world?

Since Jesus referred to His “kingdom”, Pilate tries to get a further explanation by asking Him “so you are a king?”  Jesus acknowledges His kingship and goes on to explain one of many reasons He came into the world: “To testify of the truth”.  In 2014, I had collected in a blog 30 reasons found in Scripture why Jesus came. Here they are:

  1. To testify to the truth (John 18:37)
  2. To save people from their sins (Mat 1:21)
  3. To fulfill the law (Mat 5:17-18)
  4. To preach (Mark 1:38; Luke 4:18;43)
  5. To serve (Mat 20:28; Mark 10:45)
  6. To give His life as a ransom for many (Mat 20:28; Mark 10:45)
  7. Free prisoners (Luke 4:18)
  8. Heal the blind (Luke 4:18; John 9:39)
  9. Release the oppressed (Luke 4:18)
  10. Fulfill prophecy (Luke 4:21)
  11. To call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32)
  12. To seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10)
  13. To make the Father known (John 1:18)
  14. To take away the sin of the world (John 1:29)
  15. Not to condemn but to save the world (John 3:17)
  16. To speak the words of God (John 3:34)
  17. To do the will of the Father (John 6:39)
  18. That we would have life more abundantly (John 10:10)
  19. To suffer and die on the cross (John 12:27)
  20. To bless us by turning us from our wicked ways (Acts 3:26)
  21. To be a sacrifice of atonement (Rom 3:25; 1 John 4:10)
  22. To be the “last Adam”, a life-giving spirit (1 Cor 15:45)
  23. To become poor so that we might become rich (2 Cor 8:9)
  24. To rescue us from this present evil age (Gal 1:4)
  25. To redeem those under law (Gal 4:5)
  26. To save sinners (1 Tim 1:15)
  27. To take away our sins (1 John 3:5)
  28. To destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8)
  29. That we might live through him (1 John 4:9)
  30. To give us understanding (1 John 5:20)

38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.” 39 But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?” 40 So they cried out again, saying, “Not this Man, but Barabbas.” Now Barabbas was a robber.

Pilate gets a little snarky with Jesus by asking “What is truth?”  This is reminiscent of our modern times, where people will confidently proclaim that “there is no truth” (and then expect us to believe that as absolute truth).

At this point, Pilate concludes his interrogation of Jesus and goes back out to the Jews and gives his verdict: “I find no guilt in Him”.  He attempts to make (what he thought was) a kind gesture to the Jews, he offers to release someone at Passover.  Interestingly, when he offers to release Jesus, he does not say “do you wish then that I release for you Jesus of Nazareth”, but instead “do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews”, which I think he knew would infuriate them.  So, predictably, they shout for Barabbas the robber to be released, and (spoiler alert) that’s what happens.

Here is a rather famous painting of this scene (though it may be depicting John 19:5 instead):

(Antonio Ciseri’s depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people Ecce homo! (Behold the man!). painted in the 19th century)

Q: What do you think the response of the crowd would’ve been if Pilate said “do you wish then that I release for you Jesus of Nazareth”?

As we consider the immensity of Christ’s sufferings in the trials, the garden, the scourging and flogging and the crucifixion, this quote from J.C. Ryle is very fitting:


The love of Christ to sinners is “a love that passes knowledge.” To suffer for those whom we love, and who are in some sense worthy of our affections, is suffering that we can understand. To submit to ill-treatment quietly, when we have no power to resist, is submission that is both graceful and wise. But to suffer voluntarily, when we a have the power to prevent it, and to suffer for a world of unbelieving and ungodly sinners, unasked and unthanked–this is a line of conduct which passes man’s understanding. Never let us forget that this is the peculiar beauty of Christ’s sufferings, when we read the wondrous story of His cross and passion.  He was led away captive, and dragged before the High Priest’s bar, not because He could not help Himself, but because He had set His whole heart on saving sinners, by bearing their sins, by being treated as a sinner, and by being punished in their stead. He was a willing prisoner, that we might be set free. He was willingly arraigned and condemned, that we might be absolved and declared innocent.


Resources Used in Preparing this Teaching

  1. MacArthur Study Bible (NASB)
  2. J.C. Ryle’s expository thoughts on the gospel of John.
  3. 30 Reasons Jesus Came to Earth: https://1peter41216.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/30-reasons-jesus-came-to-earth/
  4. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist (Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, 2004)

5 thoughts on “Bible Teaching – John 18 (8-30-2022)

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