John 18-19
November 9th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

- John 19:6 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

These two chapters record the complete and expeditious “judicial process” to which Jesus was subjected on his final day. Chapter 18 begins with his arrest. Chapter 19 ends with Jesus in a tomb. He had been subjected to a swift trial that was immediately followed by sentencing and crucifixion. The whole cycle from arrest to death was completed in less than 24 hours.

Judas, the traitor who had eaten with Jesus the night before, had led a troop of men to find Jesus, as described in Chapter 18. Presumably it was late at night or early in the morning, before daybreak, and perhaps the men expected a battle. John reports that the posse arrived with torches, lanterns, and weapons, but Jesus did not resist, because now was his time. In fact, he told Peter to put his sword away, and asked for the disciples to be allowed to go free.

The men took Jesus to Annanias, the High Priest. One disciple went with him while Peter waited in the courtyard. Only one of the other disciples was mentioned as being present. :

When asked directly by a woman in the courtyard, Peter denied being one of the disciples. Meanwhile, the High Priest was interrogating Jesus, but the entourage of the High Priest did not like Jesus’ answers, so they slapped him and took him to the next trial (to the other High Priest – Caiaphus).

Peter remained in the courtyard and denied Jesus two more times. A cock crowed and Peter remembered what Jesus had said. The betrayer had revealed himself and the rock had temporarily turned to sand, denying Jesus three times.

Jesus was brought to Caiaphus and then to the governor, Pilate. He became a hot potato for which no one wanted to take responsibility for condemning, as noted in the end of Chapter 18 and the beginning of 19:

Pilate had tried to convince the people to ask for Jesus’ freedom and tried to get Jesus to defend himself, but neither would cooperate so he became frustrated. Jesus tried to help Pilate understand the greater theological context of the situation:

Although he had his own power and could have commanded a legion of angels, Jesus did not resist, nor did he attempt to defend himself, or set himself free, because the time had finally come to make the ultimate sacrifice.

The people demanded crucifixion, so Pilate handed him over. John says that Jesus carried his own cross. They hung him from it and he died that afternoon after many hours of suffering. Jesus uttered the words, “ ‘it is finished’ (19:30 - NIV),” and breathed his last breath.

Joseph of Arimethea claimed the body and placed it in a tomb.

Reflection and Application

Jesus demonstrated his control over his own destiny by escaping from his opponents on many previous occasions but allowed himself to be captured on the occasion described in these chapters. None of it was a surprise to him. In John's account, Jesus also demonstrated his control over his own destiny by carrying the cross for the whole journey to the place known in Aramaic as Golgotha (place of the skull), which is Calvaria in Latin.

It is interesting to observe how none of the judging parties wanted to be responsible for convicting Jesus. Anaanias handed him to Caiaphus who handed him to Pilate, who tried to hand him back, then tried to get the people to decide, and then tried to get Jesus to save himself. Who ultimately gets the blame?

We all do.

The collective sin of the human race is the reason that Jesus allowed himself to be crucified. The various parties in the pageantry were instruments of God in the same way that God used one nation to punish Israel in the time of the Prophets, and then ended the exile by having the foreigner, Cyrus of Persia, set them free.

In the Gospel stories, Jesus allows himself to be an instrument of God, and offers is own body as the sacrifice for all of us. In John 19:14 we read that Jesus was sentenced at noon, which was the hour at which the priests began to slaughter Passover lambs in the temple. John the Baptist prophesized this sacrifice when he referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God: "The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world' (John 1:29 - NAB)(1)."

How we would have responded to the situation in which Jesus was arrested and brought to trial? Would we be like the Pharisees, so comfortable in our present positions that we would feel threatened by accepting and praising God? Would we have gotten caught up in the fever of the crowd, chanting for his crucifixion? Would we run away like most of the disciples or stick around like Peter, only to later deny him?

Although Peter denied Jesus three times you have to give him credit for staying close. All but one of the others had fled. His heart was in the right place, but he lost courage in the face of accusation. This was Peter's trial. He failed, but he was not a failure. When Christ was convicted and died, Peter might have felt that he did everything wrong and had let Jesus down. But somehow he hung on long enough to see the Resurrection.

Judas could have been forgiven, for he too was an instrument in God’s plan, but he mistakenly thought he was irredeemable. When we fail, let us think more like Peter than like Judas. We usually have an opportunity to try again and should never ever ever ever feel that we are a “failure.” Others would like us to think that way, but that is not God’s plan.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What was one of your favorite courtroom trials in a book, movie, or TV show?
    2. What do you think went through Peter’s mind when they kept asking if he was with Jesus?
    3. What will you say if someone asks you today if you are with Jesus?

    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know you are in control. Help us to accept your will for the times you intervene and during the times when you chose not to intervene.

    Prayer Concern
    People on trial

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: John 20-21 (Just a Sampling)


    (1) New American Bible United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, online version, footnotes on Chapter 19

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