Summary: Six groups or individuals think they can "handle" Jesus. Their reactions are similar to ours when we encounter the truth of Jesus Christ. Which group are you in?
The time for Jesus teaching is over. Now is the time for others to act on the truth that He revealed. Six groups of individuals try to handle Jesus in one way or another.
Chapter 18 is about the arrest and trial of Jesus. The time for talking has almost ended, the time for action is here. This is Jesus’ hour, the culmination of his entire life on earth. But before he gives his life for man, man must completely and totally reject him. Here we see six groups or individuals all trying to basically do the same thing: get a handle on Jesus.
What’s left out: Judas’ kiss (Matt 26:49), Jesus’ healing the ear (Luke 22:50), Peter’s weeping. The prayer in Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42), the trial before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57-68), the early morning session of the council (Mark 14:53-65), appearing before Herod (Luke 23:6-11).
What’s left is the core of a story of attempted control.
1 – 2
The place is the Garden of Gethsemane, an olive grove at the base of the Mount of Olives. When you visit there they tell you that the trees currently there grew from stumps after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70 and that an olive tree never really dies so it is quite possible that some of the DNA of the trees there now are the same as when Jesus prayed there.
Judas may have gone back to the room where they had met for the Passover meal, or perhaps he guessed that Jesus would take his men to the Garden. It was a private place, perfect for an arrest out of the public eye.
The “band” of Roman soldiers could have numbered six hundred. They were probably there to keep a riot from happening. With them were members of the Temple Police. They are armed to the teeth, way over prepared for the man they are about to encounter.
4 – 11
This is a great story. Perhaps they were expecting someone larger than life. Jesus was just so ordinary that they got right up to him in the torchlight and when he identified himself as “I AM” they pushed back and fell over! By the way, I’ve heard this as an argument for being “slain in the Spirit.” I think it is more Keystone Cops than Holy Spirit.
Anyway, Jesus stands between his guys and the soldiers, wanting to protect them. Peter, in his usual bravado, takes out a dagger to fight 600 hundred men! But give him credit, though his aim wasn’t too good, at least he tried. But as Peter will discover, it is not bravery that Jesus is after, but loyalty and trust, something Peter is not yet willing to give. Peter doesn’t yet understand that this is the plan for Jesus to be arrested.
12 – 14
Annas had been high priest (AD 6-15) but had deposed by the Romans and his son in law Caiaphas, had been put in his place (AD 18-36). The office was supposed to be for life but the Romans didn’t like such a concentration of power in one person so they often changed high priests. This didn’t stop the people from giving the real power to the man they considered still to be high priest: Annas.
Caiaphas said that about one man dieing in John 11:49
15 – 18
Some say that John was the disciple who got Peter in. There is apparently some evidence that John was distantly related to Annas, but others argue that John, a Galilean, would not have been known and that it was some other unidentified disciple. But to get the details either John had to be there or get them from Peter. Never the less, to get in the door, Peter has to make denial number 1.
Jerusalem is 2,600 feet above sea level and chilly on spring nights, that’s why a fire. Now we switch scenes, over to where Jesus is being questioned.
19 – 24
Annas questions Jesus about His teachings and His disciples. Annas probably wanted to know if Jesus was fomenting revolution against the status quo. He wanted Jesus to try to defend who He was before a superior. Jesus didn’t and wont’ do that. I love his response, “As those who heard me.” Jesus had spoken openly, but not all of the ears of those he spoke to were similarly open.
25 – 27
Matthew (26:34), Mark (14:30), and Luke (22:61), tell us of Jesus’ telling Peter of his denials. But in the heat of the moment I’m sure he forgot all about it. Here he just trying to survive. He is worried that he’ll be arrested if he is identified with Jesus. He loves Him, but still loves himself and his life more. That will soon change.