John 18:1–6, 17–24 comment (0)
January 23, 2014
By Dale Younce
Related Scripture: John 18:1–6, 17–24
Explore the Bible
Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
Our Messiah: Abused!
John 18:1–6, 17–24
What does it mean to suffer abuse? Tragically many adults have experienced the pain of unfair treatment or have even been hated and betrayed by others. Yet none have been so intensely abused as was Jesus. Further what Jesus suffered in terms of abuse was for others’ sake, not His own. Jesus knew that He would suffer abuse as part of God’s plan to provide forgiveness for sinners. That He was willing to suffer abuse for us should evoke a deep gratitude on our part.
Being Betrayed (1–6)
As Jesus drew near the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew (18:4) that His purity and sinlessness would be violated as He bore the wrath of God for sinners. Yet the abuse of betrayal, denial and being reviled was only preliminary to His redemptive suffering on the cross.
Jesus was aware of this as He and His disciples crossed the Brook Kidron (an intermittent stream that was dry most of the year but became a torrent during the rainy season), which ran through the Kidron Valley east of Jerusalem between the walled city on the temple mount and the Mount of Olives. On the western slope of the Mount of Olives, there was a garden enclosed by a wall; it was called the Garden of Gethsemane (the garden of the olive oil press). Here, apparently with the owner’s consent, Jesus and His disciples often stayed for rest and prayer when they came to Jerusalem. Judas knew the place.
Somewhere around 2 a.m. Judas arrived at the garden with a large contingent of Roman soldiers and temple police. The Roman cohort numbered between 300 and 600 troops. The reason the arresting party thought they would need many soldiers was that they did not know how many followers of Jesus there were who would fight for Him. They came expecting resistance.
What the arresting party met was Jesus calmly presenting Himself as the One they were seeking. His statement “I am” is phenomenal. (The “He” is not found in the original text, but is needed in English.) Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had used the same wording to indicate that He was Jehovah of the Old Testament (John 8:58–59). Here, for a brief moment, Jesus revealed Himself as “I AM,” the Almighty God. The revelation was so overwhelmingly powerful that they fell backwards to the ground in fear, dismay and utter confusion. They did not fall forward to worship Him. This revealed to these men that Jesus was absolutely in charge; they could not arrest Him without His permission. They were seeing Jesus of Nazareth, the God-Man. We are right to be amazed at and grateful for Jesus’ boldness and calm willingness to face betrayal and arrest for our sake.
Being Denied (17–18)
These verses bring us to the first of Peter’s three predicted denials (John 13:38). His first denial came soon after being let into the courtyard of the home of the high priest. It is significant that this first denial of the Lord was not before a powerful, terrifying Roman soldier but before a simple, servant girl. Her question to Peter indicated she expected a negative answer. Peter denied Jesus by denying that he was one of the disciples. We are humbled by and grateful for Jesus’ willingness to patiently endure the faltering faith of His followers.
Being Reviled (19–24)
In the first of His three Jewish trials, Jesus was taken before Annas, the father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas. At this informal but illegal (before sunrise) hearing, Jesus requested that witnesses be called. Jesus said His ministry was carried on openly; He had nothing to hide. Jesus’ words left the Jewish religious leaders with no case. So they resorted to abuse. One of the officers slapped Jesus, to which Jesus replied that, since they could not accuse Him of speaking wrongly, why abuse Him for speaking the truth? We are grateful and encouraged in our faith by Jesus’ willingness to remain steadfast in His mission despite being falsely accused and physically abused.