(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font)
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
May 6, 2001
King David experienced this and expressed the turmoil of his soul. In Psalm 41:7 he speaks of “Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” In Psalm 55:13-15 he laments, “But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend. 14 We who had sweet fellowship together, Walked in the house of God in the throng.”
Part of the hurt of betrayal is the shock to learn that your trust has been so misplaced. It hurts to find out that a person that you thought was your friend actually turns out to be your enemy.
Jesus was betrayed. In a sense, Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was the ultimate betrayal, for when Judas turned away from Jesus, he turned from all that was good to all that was evil, from God to Satan. Yet, Jesus was not shocked. He fully expected it and all the events that followed it. Jesus was not a victim of betrayal who was helpless before His captors. He was actually in full control. Turn to John 18.
Betrayed by Judas (1-11)
In the Garden (1)
Jesus had just celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples in the Upper Room. He had demonstrated to them the humble service they were to give to one another by washing the feet of each of them. Judas had left to arrange his act of treachery. Jesus had taught the remaining disciples their final lessons and then prayed for His own glory, for His disciples and for us who have followed since. Now, after singing a hymn (Mt. 26:3), they leave the Upper Room and Jerusalem.
When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, into which He Himself entered, and His disciples.
The Kidron valley was on the east side of the Temple mount. Jesus and the disciples would have most likely left Jerusalem through one of the eastern gates. There was a drain from the area in the temple where the sacrifices were killed that went down into the Kidron valley. Depending on where they crossed the ravine, they would have also crossed over all the blood that had flowed down from the thousands of sacrifices that had been made that day. From there they would have gone up the other side onto the Mount of Olives into the Garden of Gethsemane. “Gethsemane” means “oil press” and refers to the place where the olives would have been pressed into oil. This was a place, as Luke 22:39 notes, that Jesus would often meet with His disciples. Judas was also aware of this.
The other gospel accounts record Jesus’ prayer in this garden, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” The fervency of this prayer was seen in that Jesus’ sweat came like drops of blood falling down upon the ground (Lk 22:44). Some have said that it was because Jesus was afraid of the suffering and death. While Jesus was human and all humans have a natural aversion to suffering and death, we must also remember that Jesus is also God and He already knew what was on the other side of death and that He would conquer it. The agony Jesus had in the garden was in view of becoming the sin bearer of the world. The aversion was to that moment when the Father would forsake the Son has He bore in Himself the sin guilt of man.
But the time in the garden quickly ended. Jesus’ entrusted Himself completely to the Father’s will, and as Hebrews 12:3 states, Jesus, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”. As Jesus finishes praying, Judas arrives with soldiers and temple guards.
Judas’ Betrayal (2,3) “Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place; for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. 3 Judas then, having received the [Roman] cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, ^came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.”
The other gospel accounts tell us that Judas identified Jesus to the soldiers and temple guards by kissing Jesus. Some have wondered about all this, but it must be kept in mind that the Chief priests were afraid of arresting Jesus during the Feast because of the crowds that admired Jesus. The task that they gave Judas was for him to bring them to a place where they could arrest Jesus where there would not be any crowds and where they could carry out their plan before the multitudes would be alerted. They also wanted Jesus to be positively identified before arresting them. Judas would do this giving Jesus a kiss of greeting. Could there have ever been anything so obviously fraudulent as that kiss. Judas is there leading a large group of armed men, yet he still gives the greeting of a friend?
A Roman cohort was about 600 men. The mention of the cohort here does not mean that the whole contingent was present, but there was a large group of soldiers lead by their commander along with officers sent by the Chief priests, scribes and elders. The soldiers would have been armed with their sword and the temple guards with clubs. Would it really take so many armed men to arrest one man who is the Prince of Peace? How foolish in every way when it is considered that unless Jesus was willing to be arrested, they could not have accomplished the task with 10 times as many men. How ironic that they would come lanterns and torches to arrest the Light of Life?
Jesus Protects His Own (4-9)
Jesus is not afraid of these armed men. He does not hide from them or even stay in the shadows. He steps out into the open.
John 18:4 “Jesus therefore, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth, and ^said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He ^said to them, “I am [He.]” And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 When therefore He said to them, “I am [He],” they drew back, and fell to the ground. 7 Again therefore He asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am [He]; if therefore you seek Me, let these go their way,” 9 that the word might be fulfilled which He spoke, “Of those whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one.”
In this exchange Jesus demonstrates that He is the one that is actually in control of the situation. Jesus confronts them and forces them to identify whom they sought. They responded, “Jesus of Nazareth.” They were a group of many armed men, but they were no match for Jesus power. In whatever manner Jesus identified Himself as “I am ,” it was in a position of authority and power that caused them all to fall backward to the ground. What a sight that must have been. Judas had been standing with this multitude. I wonder what was going through his mind as he picked himself up off the ground? By using the term, “I am,” in identifying Himself, Jesus may well have been the revealing Himself as God.
Jesus again takes position of initiative and asks them again who they were seeking. I think there can be little doubt that with the number of armed men present they were prepared to arrest everyone associated with Jesus. Mark 14 even records one of Jesus’ followers escaping after an effort to seize him. By having them to identify that it is only Jesus of Nazareth they were seeking, Jesus forced them to concede into letting all the rest go.
This was in keeping with the prophecy that Jesus would lose none of those the Father had given to Him. This is not a reference to keeping them out of prison or even harms way. They would certainly endure that in the future. It is in keeping with God not allowing us to go through anything that is too great for us to bear at the time. He does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but provides the way of escape. In this case, the arrest of the disciples at this time would have been too much for them. He provides a way of escape for them. They would be able to endure arrest and persecution in the future after the resurrection, but not before.
God is still faithful to this promise to us made in 1 Cor. 10:13. While He allows us to get into scary situations, He knows our limits and will not push us past them. Yet, in enduring each situation our faith becomes stronger and we can endure more. God knows us better than we know ourselves.
Peter’s Defense (10,11)
Now in seeing all of this, Peter is encouraged and steps forward to fulfill the boasting He had made earlier that he would stand by Jesus’ side and was willing to die with Him if need be. 10 “Simon Peter therefore having a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. 11 Jesus therefore said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”
Peter is bold and brave when He is with Jesus. You can be sure that Peter was not trying to cut off Malchus’ ear. We can safely assume that Peter’s inexperience with the sword and Malchus’ quick movements were the only thing that kept his head from being cut off. Peter was ready to take on all of the soldiers as long as Jesus is with him. But then again after seeing Jesus knock down all of them by just saying, “I am,” Peter could be quite confident that if he got into trouble, Jesus could do it again.
Again we find that Jesus is the one in control. The situation could have quickly become dangerous. The training of a soldier would have been to pull out their own swords when they saw Peter swinging his sword. Jesus diffused the whole situation quickly by rebuking Peter and instantly putting Malchus’ ear back on and healing it. Imagine what the soldiers must have been thinking as they watched this exchange. What manner of man had they come to arrest?
Peter is rebuked for his actions because it was not the time to fight. All that was happening was according to the Father’s plan. It was necessary for Jesus to be arrested. Jesus was not a victim.
Denied by Peter, Pt. 1 (12-18)
Jesus’ Arrest (12-14)
Verses 12-14 record Jesus’ arrest, but keep in mind that the arrest can take place only because Jesus allows it. So the [Roman] cohort and the commander, and the officers of the Jews, arrested Jesus and bound Him, 13 and led Him to Annas first; for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people.
Annas is an interesting character and you need some background information on him to understand what is occurring here. The Roman procurators made the position of highpriest a quasi-political office whom they appointed. Annas was highpriest under Quirinius in 6 A.D., but was deposed by Valerus Gratus about 15 A.D. However, though Annus was no longer the actual highpriest, he remained the dominant power in the Sanhedrin. His political power is seen in that five of his sons, his son-in-law and his grandson became highpriest. During the entire time of Christ’s ministry and for a long time after, Annas was the man largely responsible for the actions of the Sanhedrin. He was also exceedingly wealthy with much of it coming from the sale of sacrificial animals in the court of the Gentiles – a business venture Jesus had driven out from the temple twice.
Regardless of whoever was the actual highpriest, Annas was the one to consult with first. John points out that at this time it is Annas’ son-in-law, Caiaphas, who is the high priest. Annas and Caiaphas shared a compound with Annas living on one side and Caiaphas on the other. In between was the courtyard common to the homes of the wealthy. It is to Annas that Jesus is first brought.
Peter’s Denial (15-18)
Peter had demonstrated his willingness to stand with Jesus and even die if necessary, but now he was at a loss of what to do. Jesus had made him put away his sword and then allowed Himself to be arrested. Verses 15,16 tell us what Peter did next. And Simon Peter was following Jesus, and [so was] another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered with Jesus into the court of the high priest, 16 but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the doorkeeper, and brought in Peter.
Peter is hesitant, but he does follow Jesus at a distance. The other disciple mentioned here is John. All the other disciples had run away. We do not know how John was known to the high priest, but because he was he enters with Jesus into the court of the high priest without any trouble. He then is able to arrange for Peter to be allowed in. But this turns out to be Peter’s downfall.
John 18:17 (NASB) The slave-girl therefore who kept the door ^said to Peter, “You are not also [one] of this man’s disciples, are you?” He ^said, “I am not.” 18 Now the slaves and the officers were standing [there,] having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
This is Peter’s first denial of Jesus. It is a scary situation for him. This is enemy territory. Jesus is arrested. The other disciples have fled. John is there, but what could they do? The result is even the logical question of the slave-girl who was keeping the door into the compound frightens him and he lies. He should have left then, but instead, his love for Jesus and desire to be near Him compels him to stay. It is cold, and trying to appear like the rest of the people there, he joins a group of slaves and officers by the fire to warm himself. This sets him up for his next denial of Jesus.
Tried by Annas (19-24)
While this is going on with Peter, Jesus is brought before Annas for the first phase of what constitutes an illegal inquiry and trial.
John 18:19 (NASB) The high priest therefore questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. 21 “Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; behold, these know what I said.” 22 And when He had said this, one of the officers standing by gave Jesus a blow, saying, “Is that the way You answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?” 24 Annas therefore sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Both Jesus and Annas knew that what was occurring was illegal. First, Annas had no legal standing to make an inquiry. He is addition he is acting in the position of both prosecutor and judge. Second, the inquiry was being made in the middle of the night without the Sanhedrin present. Third, they had no witnesses to testify that Jesus had done anything wrong. Our own legal system follows the Jewish system that a person cannot be made to testify against themselves, but accusations must be established by the testimony of two or more witnesses (Deut. 17:6; 19:15 cf. Isa. 29:21).
It is upon this point that Jesus challenges what is occurring and in doing so exposes their illegal nature. Jesus had taught publically so it should not have been hard to find people who would testify about what Jesus had taught. The fact that they did not have any witnesses to testify demonstrated this was a kangaroo court. There was no interest in justice on the part of Annas, the chief priests, scribes or elders who had Jesus arrested. They already knew the verdict they wanted and they would not let proper legal proceedings get in their way.
The political power of Annas is seen in the response of one of the officers to Jesus’ challenge to what Annas was doing. He referred to Annas as the high priest, when in fact he was not. His son-in-law, Caiaphas, was the actual high priest and he was not present as verse 24 points out. In addition, it was an illegal act for him to strike Jesus, but what did that matter to the officer as long as it pleased Annas?
Consider Jesus humility in verse 23 in simply challenging the illegal actions being done. He appeals to the law itself in the demand for justice which exposes their injustice. What if Jesus used His power to seek revenge. He could have made the officer’s hand wither instantly and afflicted all those taking part with any number of dreadful diseases or killed them. But Jesus knew the eternal purpose for all that was happening including the abuse He was now receiving. The inquiry was illegal, but Jesus was still in control and each of His actions continued to demonstrate His own righteousness and the evil of those who were seeking His death.
Annas was not able to get Jesus to incriminate Himself, so he sent Jesus bound across the courtyard to Caiaphas.
Denied by Peter, Pt. 2 (25-27)
John now resumes the story of what was happening with Peter. John 18:25 (NASB) Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore 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 therefore denied [it] again; and immediately a cock crowed.
Sometimes there might appear to be a fine line between faith and foolishness, but matter is resolved in the motives and obedience. While Peter could be commended for having the courage to follow Jesus and even go into the courtyard, it was not the place he should have been. Peter had boasted about how he would stick with Jesus and defend Him even with his life. He had demonstrated his willingness to do so when he cut off Malchus’ ear with his sword. But Jesus had warned Peter that he would deny Jesus three times that very night. Peter had already denied Jesus once at the simple inquiry of the servant-girl. Instead of retreating then, he stayed on.
Faith is stepping out on the promises of God and trusting Him regardless of how foolish it may look to the world. Foolishness is not heeding the warnings God gives and doing what you want. 1 Cor. 10:13 is clear. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. It is foolish not to take the way of escape God provides when faced with temptation. Peter failed and denied Jesus because He had not taken the way of escape that Jesus had provided for him.
John records Peter’s denials, but downplays the third denial. The other gospels record that Peter was actually swearing and cursing in making the last denial. It was then that the cock crowed again and he remembered Jesus’ warning. He then left the court of the high priest and wept bitterly.
There is a lesson here for us in Peter’s failure. Don’t be proud and arrogant to take on more than God wants you too. Romans 13:14 tells us to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to [its] lusts.” We should not place ourselves in the position to be tempted to begin with. Peter did not do that. He went in and he should have stayed out.
Does pornography tempt you? Stay away from it. Don’t allow it in your house or presence. Do something other than watch movies and TV and never use the internet without a filter. Is some person tempting you in some way? Stay away from them or if you have to be near them, always have someone else with you who knows your struggle. Gluttony a problem? Don’t bring the food items that tempt you into the house and stay away from buffets. Materialism a problem? Stay out of the mall and leave your credit cards, check book and excess money at home. There is much we can do to avoid temptation by simply avoiding situations we know would tempt us.
And when we find ourselves falling into temptation, we need to flee it immediately. Peter did not do this resulting in his denials of Jesus becoming more vehement each time. Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lusts (2 Tim. 2:22). That is still good advice not just with the lusts of the flesh, but also with the lusts of the eyes and the boastful pride of life. Turn off the TV or leave the movie even if the show is not over. Throw away the book or magazine. Leave the mall. Walk away from the conflict. It does not matter what other people think of you. It matters what God thinks of you. Are you doing what is right in His eyes?
The other lesson we learn here is from the example of Jesus. As I often point out, one of the purposes of our salvation is to become conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29). Everything that happened to Jesus in this passage was wrong. He was betrayed by one of His disciples. He was illegally arrested and tried. He was denied by one who claimed to love Him and had boasted of his loyalty. Yet, Jesus remained in complete control of Himself and submitted Himself totally to the Father’s will. Jesus understood everything from the eternal perspective and so did not become a victim of the particular circumstances.
Paul said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” The context of the verse is that he could live in a manner pleasing to God regardless of the circumstances. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Paul could live righteously regardless of what he faced. So can we if we will seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness instead of our own kingdom and selfish desires.
Betrayal, trial and denial – they all hurt, but they are not the end of the world. Our Lord will never betray us for He is just and never lies. He is loyal and fulfills His promise to be with us through every trial. He will not deny those who belong to Him. The more your life is centered on our Lord, the better able you will be to be like Him and remain firm in living righteously regardless of what evil you may face in this life.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times Peter is mentioned 2) Talk with your parents about Peter’s failure and how you can avoid repeating Peter’s mistakes.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. What is the context of John 18? What do the other gospel accounts say occurred in the garden before Jesus’ arrest? Why was Judas needed by the Jewish religious leaders to betray Jesus? How does Jesus demonstrate that He is in control and not the men with swords and clubs? Why did Jesus tell Peter to put his sword away? Why is John the only one that mentions Peter and Malchus by name? Who was Annas and why was he important? Who was the other disciple that followed Jesus? What was Peter’s first mistake? Why did he deny Jesus (vs. 17)? What illegal actions were done to Jesus by Annas, the chief priests, scribes and elders? What did Jesus’ response to the inquiry demonstrate? Why does John mention that it was one of Malchus’ relatives that was questioning Peter? How many times did Peter deny Jesus? How do the other gospels describe his denials? What was Peter’s reaction after he heard the cock crow? What do you do to avoid temptation? What do you do when you find yourself tempted? What should you do? How can you be more like Jesus in facing betrayal and trials?
Betrayed by Judas (1-11)
In the Garden (1)
Judas’ Betrayal (2,3)
Jesus Protects His Own (4-9)
Peter’s Defense (10,11)
Denied by Peter, Pt. 1 (12-18)
Jesus’ Arrest (12-14)
Peter’s Denial (15-18)
Tried by Annas (19-24)
Denied by Peter, Pt. 2 (25-27)
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