John 18



THE HOUR HAS COME  (ch.18:1 – 19:42)


The Betrayal, the Majesty of His Bearing,

      Accompanied by Hints of the Bitter Cup (vs. 1-11)


1 “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His

disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the

which He entered, and His disciples.”  When Jesus had spoken these words

i.e. had offered the prayer, and communed with His Father touching Himself,

His disciples, and His whole Church — He went forth with His disciples; i.e.

from the resting-place chosen by Him on his way from the “guest-chamber” to

the Valley of Kedron; it may have been from some corner of the vast temple

area, or some sheltered spot under the shadow of its walls, where He

uttered His wondrous discourse and intercession. He went over the ravine

— or, strictly speaking, winter-torrent — of Kedron.  The stream rises

north of Jerusalem, and separates the city on its eastern side from Scopas

and the Mount of Olives. It reaches its deepest depression at the point

where it joins the Valley of Hinnom near the well of Rogel, contributing to

the peculiar physical conformation of the city. The stream is in summer dry

to its bed.  There is an old tradition that there is below the present surface of

its bed, a subterraneous watercourse, whose waters may be heard flowing. The

stream takes a sudden bend to the southeast at En-Rogel, and makes its

way, by the convent of Saba, to the Dead Sea. It is not without interest

that this note of place given by John alone — for the three other

evangelists simply speak of “the Mount of Olives— brings the narrative

into relation with the story of David’s flight from Absalom by the same

route, and also the Jewish expectation (Joel 3:2), and Mohammedan

prediction, that here will take place the final judgment (Smith’s

‘Dictionary,’ art. “Kedron,” by Grove; ‘Pictorial Palestine,’ vol. 1.;

Robinson, ‘Bib. Res.,’ 1:269: Winer’s ‘B. Realworterbuch,’ art. “Kedron;”

Dean Stanley’s ‘Sinai and Palestine;’ ‘The Recovery of Jerusalem,’ by

Capt. Warren and Capt. Wilson, John 1. and 5.). Where was a garden.

This reference is in agreement (Matthew 26:36; Mark 14:32) with the

synoptic description of the χωρίον - chorion  - freehold; parcel of ground

small farm, or  olive yard, enclosed from the rest of the hillside, and called

Gethsemane(gath-shammi, press for oil). The traditional site of the garden

dates back to the time of Constantine, and may be the true scene of the agony

described by the synoptists. There are still remaining “the eight aged olive

trees,” which carry back the associations to the hour of the great travail. It

is certain that the general features of the scene still closely correspond with

what was visible on the awful night (‘Pictorial Palestine,’ 1:86, 98).

Patristic and mediaeval writers see parallels between the garden of Eden lost

by man’s sin, and the garden of Gethsemane where THE SECOND ADAM

met the prince of this world, and bore the weight of human transgression

and shame, and regained for man the paradise which Adam lost. It is still

more interesting to notice a further touch recorded by John: Into which

into the quiet retreat and partial concealment of which — He (Jesus) entered

Himself, and His disciples.  We know from the other Gospels that they were

separated —eight remained on watch near the entrance, and Peter and James

and John went further into the recesses of the garden, and again, “about a

stone’s cast” (Luke 22:41), in the depth of the olive-shade, our blessed

Lord retired to “pray.”


2 “And Judas also, which betrayed Him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes

resorted thither with His disciples.” Now Judas also, who was betraying Him

(notice present tense in contrast with παράδους – ho paradous – the one

betraying of Matthew 10:4), knew the place: because oftentimes Jesus resorted

(literally, was assembled there) thither with His disciples. Luke tells us that during

this very week (Luke 21:37) they had passed their nights (ηὐλίζετοaeulizeto

He camped out) on the “Mount of Olives,” and it is  most likely that Judas

conjectured that they had gone thither again to pass the night. The fact here

mentioned by John, that Judas knew the place declares that John only

represented the place as known to Judas, in order to enhance the voluntary

nature of the sacrifice. Some explanation may thus be given of the fact that

the eleven disciples, having reached an accustomed place of repose, all

slumbered and slept, and were not able to watch one hour.  


Gethsemane (vs. 1-2)


The mind of man is naturally interested in places, not so much for their

own sake, as for the sake of associations connected with them. Religions

have their sacred places: the Jew cannot forget Jerusalem; the

Mohammedan venerates the holy Mecca; and the Christian regards

Gethsemane with a tender and pathetic interest.




resorted thither with His disciples.” Doubtless they learned much from

Jesus as He taught in the temple and in the synagogues, in the highways,

and in the dwellings of the people. But there was much He wished to say to

them which could be said better in private. He took them aside into a

desert place, and in seclusion and quiet communicated to them tidings

which were not for the multitude. He gathered them together in an upper

room, and discoursed to them with such profundity and spirituality, that it

needed the illumination of events that were yet to happen to make plain

His wonderful sayings. He led them away from the thronged streets and

temple-courts of the city, crossed the Kedron ravine, and took them into

the retired garden, that He might, without interruption, reveal to them

whatever truth they were able to bear. Gethsemane thus became a symbol

for the “quiet resting-places,” where the Savior meets congenial souls, and


HIS LOVE!   Such intimacy binds the heart of the scholar to his Master.

Such fellowship makes its lasting mark upon the character. “Did not I see

 thee in the garden with him?” (v. 26)



BITTEREST MENTAL ANGUISH. It seems strange that John, who, we

know, was one of the chosen three who were near Jesus in His agony and

bloody sweat, says nothing of His Master’s conflict in Gethsemane. This

silence cannot be attributed to want of sympathy, for the beloved disciple

felt keenly with and for his Lord. He was content that his fellow-

evangelists should tell the awful sorrows of the Redeemer. The

unexampled pains which Christ endured, when with strong crying and

tears He made supplication, constituted a phase of His mediatorial ministry,

not only deeply affecting to the sensitive mind that contemplates the scene

of woe, but doubtless ever memorable to our Divine Representative Himself.


“Our Fellow-Sufferer yet retains

A fellow-feeling of our pains;

And still remembers, in the skies,

His tears, His agonies, and cries.”


“Perfect through suffering” (Hebrews 2:10), the Captain of our salvation looks

back to the hour when He drank the bitter cup in our stead; and to Him Gethsemane

is for ever linked with His sacred undertaking of our cause, with the price He

paid for our redemption.



HEARTLESSLY BETRAYED HIS LORD. To the mind of the traitor the

one point of interest in Gethsemane was this — it was a place where Jesus

might be apprehended by the officers of the priests and Pharisees, with no

fear of disturbance or opposition. The garden, though near Jerusalem, was

secluded and solitary; no admiring and sympathizing crowd would there

protect or rescue the honored and beloved Teacher and Healer. After the

capture, during the few hours of life remaining to him, Judas could not

think of Gethsemane without distress of mind, which deepened, not into

repentance, but into remorse. The thought of his own sin and of his

Master’s innocence must have oppressed his guilty soul, until he was

driven to confession and to suicide. Terrible is the state of that man before

whose memory there constantly arises the scene of crime from which he

sees no deliverance, for which he sees no expiation, the scene of violence

and cruelty, of debauchery, or of profanity. “Better had it been for that

man that he had never been born.”  (Mark 14:21)




The same place, the imagination of which awoke the guilty conscience of

Judas to misery and despair, is associated in all Christians’ minds with the

ransom which was paid for the deliverance of many from sin and death.

There the anguish was endured, the cry was uttered, the cup was drunk,

the perfect submission was rendered, the death on Calvary was anticipated.

Very dear to the heart, very present to the memory, of Christendom is the

Garden whither Jesus oft resorted, where Jesus suffered Himself to be

betrayed, where Jesus took upon His heart the burden of human sin, where

Jesus cried, “Not my will, O my Father, but thine, be done!”  (Luke 22:42)




                                      A Hallowed Spot (vs. 1-2)


There are depths and unique things in this Gospel which make it easily to

be accounted for that some should reckon it the choicest of the Gospels. It

has what the others have not; but when we compare the others with it, to

look for their peculiar excellences, then we find how the others have what

this Gospel lacks. One would have thought beforehand that John would

have enlarged on the mysteries and sorrows of Gethsemane, but, strangely

enough, he passes them over without a word. Here is one of the

illustrations of how real a thing inspiration is, these Gospels being not

written after the fashion of human books, though they came through

human minds. If John had been asked why he omitted to enlarge on the

Passion, he could hardly have told. But though John says nothing of how

Jesus began to be sorrowful and very heavy even unto death, though he

says nothing of that sweat which was like great drops of blood falling to

the ground, yet we are sure all these dreadful experiences must have been

often in his grateful recollection. Gethsemane was the last place where

Jesus and His disciples had free speech before His death, and it was well that

they should have the recollection of it as a place where they had often

been. Many things at many times Jesus must have told them there, and the

remembrance of the place would bring up the remembrance of the words.

We must not make too much of this mere locality, even if we were quite

certain of it. Every Christian must have his own hallowed places. Every

Christian must have places, the recollection of which is sweeter far to him

than ever the mere sight of traditional spots in Palestine can be. We must

have holy, memorable places in our own experience, and then perhaps we

may get some good from considering the so-called holy places of the so-called

Holy Land.



3 “Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the

chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches

and weapons.”  Judas therefore, because he knew the place, was able

treacherously to use his knowledge. Having received the cohort,σπεῖρα 

H speiraband; squad -  is used for the legion or portion of

the legion of soldiers,  who, under the direction of the Roman procurator,

garrisoned the Tower of Antonia, which dominated the northeast temple courts.

The article (τὴνtaenthe) is probably used because the χιλίαρχοςchiliarchas

captain;  or commander of the thousand men, had (v. 12) accompanied the

detachment. “The word σπεῖρα, is used by Polybius for the Latin manipulus,

not cohors (Polyb., 11:23), consisting of about two hundred men, the third part

of a cohort.”  It should, however, be observed that the word is used of the Roman

garrison of the tower (Acts 10:1; 21:31; 27:1; Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 20:4. 3; ‘ Bell. Jud.,’

5:5. 8).  Ξιλίαρχος  was the proper name for the commander of a cohors,

equivalent to one-sixth of a legion, i.e. a thousand men and a hundred and

twenty horsemen. The strength of the cohort differed according to

circumstances and need. Josephus (‘Bell. Jud.,’ 3:4. 2) says that some

σπείραι  consisted of a thousand, some of six hundred, men. It is not

rational to suppose that the whole cohort were visibly present, but they

were-present in close proximity. Though John alone mentions the Roman

soldiers, yet compare Matthew 26:53-54, where our Lord says, Thinkest

thou not that I could pray (παρεκαλέσαι)parekalesaipray; entreat)

my Father, and He would henceforth furnish me with more than twelve

legions of angels?a legion of angels for EACH ONE of the little group.

The presence of this band of Roman soldiers with the Jewish police gives

very great force and impressiveness to THIS SCENE OF ISRAEL’S


THE DIVINE SAVIOUR!  . The other hints given by the synoptists of

the presence of weapons in the “band,” is Peter’s use of the sword. Judas

brought with him, not only the drilled and armed Roman soldiers, but the

officers from the chief priests and of thef2 Pharisees; i.e. a detachment

of the Jewish guard of the temple, under direction of the Sanhedrin. The

chief priests would have small difficulty in securing the aid of a detachment

of the Roman garrison to prevent popular outbreak at the time of the feast.

These ὑπηρέταιhupaeretaideputies; subservients - under the direction of

the chief priests and Pharisees, have been mentioned in ch. 7:32 and 45, and the

same name is given to the ὑπηρέται in Acts 5:22, 26, where the high priests

and Sadducees are spoken of as their masters. In Luke 22:4, 52 the commandants

of the temple are spoken of in the plural, στρατηγοῖς τοῦ ἱεροῦstrataegois

 tou ierou – officers of the priests. The Jewish guard was under the custody of one

officer, στρατηγός – ho strataegos -  and he was a man of high rank and dignity

(Josephus, ‘ Ant.,’ 20:6. 2; ‘ Bell. Jud.,’ 2:17.2) — not two, but one; the reference

to more than one must therefore point to the Roman military official as well, thus

unconsciously sustaining the more definite information given by John.

Judas with his band cometh thither with lanterns and torches and

weapons; for, though it was the Paschal full moon, they were intent on

finding Christ, whom Judas would identify for them, amid the depths

of the olive shades. (Λαμπάς – lampas is in its primary sense a torch, or

even meteoric light, but it is used for a lamp or lantern; and φανόςphanos

lanterns - also is used  for “torch” primarily, with secondary meaning of “lantern.”)

Matthew and Mark mention “swords” and “staves,” but say nothing of the

flaring torches which so arrested the eye of John. Thoma sees a reference to the

frequent declaration of Christ, that He was the “Light of the world,” and to the

contrast between that light and the power of darkness.


4 “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him,

went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?”  Jesus then — the οϋν 

ounthen - implies that our Lord discerned the approach of the hostile band —

knowing all the things that were coming upon Him in full consciousness of

His position, and in voluntary sacrifice of Himself to the will of God and the

purpose of His mission went forth; i.e. from the garden enclosure;

partly in consequence of the language of the kinsman of Malchus,

“Did I not see thee in the garden?” But this is perfectly compatible with the

obvious fact that the eight disciples and the favored three should have

shrunk behind our Lord when He calmly emerged from the entrance to the

garden, and that their position would be thus sufficiently indicated. It is

remarkable that John, who has been accused of personal malice to Judas

does not refer to the traitor’s kiss. This well-attested and traditionally sustained

incident is not excluded by the narrative before us — indeed, the second reference

to Judas seems to imply something special in his conduct, which is needed to

account for it. We can hardly suppose that it could have taken place before the

Lord Jesus had uttered his solemn word, but it may easily have occurred as the

first answer to his summons. And saith unto them, Whom seek ye?


5 “They answered Him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am

he. And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them.  6 As soon then

as He had said unto them, I am He, they went backward, and fell to the

ground.”  They answered Him, Jesus the Nazarene. Jesus saith

unto them, I am He. Then, in all probability, the miscreant, the son of

perdition, said,” Hail, Master!” and kissed Him; and there followed before

and after his act the sublime replies given, “Companion, wherefore art thou

come?” (Matthew 26:50) and “Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a

kiss?” (Luke 22:48)  John, however, overwhelmed with the majesty and

spontaneous self-devotion of the Lord, calls attention to the language He addressed

to the “band” which surrounded Him. In some royal emphasis of tone He said,

“I am (He),” and the same kind of effect followed as on various occasions had

proved HOW POWERLESS,  without His permission, the machinations of His

 foes really were.  In the temple courts, and on the precipice of Nazareth, the

murderous Jews and Galilaeans were foiled by the moral grandeur of His bearing;

and when He said, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground χαμαί -

chamai - on the ground).  Whether this was a supernatural event, or allied to the

sublime force of  moral greatness flashing in his eye or echoing in the tone of His

voice, we cannot say, but associating it with other events in His history, the

supernatural in His case becomes perfectly natural. It was so that He whose

“I am he” had hushed the waves and cast out the devil, and before whose

glance and word John and Paul fell to the earth, as if struck with lightning,

did perhaps allow His very captors (prepared by Judas for some display of

His might) to feel how powerless they were against Him. It is remarkable

that our narrative should place between the “I am He” and its effect, the

tautologous remark if there be nothing to explain it, Now Judas also, who

was betraying him, was standing with them. This implies that Judas had

taken some step equivalent to that described in the synoptic narrative.

There is some momentary consolation in the thought that the traitor fell to

the ground with his gang, and for an instant saw the transcendent crime he

had committed in betraying the innocent blood with the kiss of treachery

and shame. Thoma sees in the approximation of Judas the approach of the

prophetic Beast to the true King, and endeavors out of the letters of his

name to read the number 666! It is true that ch. 13:27 represents

Satan as having entered into Judas (Both Judas and anti-Christ are both

Referred to in scripture as “the son of perdition” ch: 17:12;

II Thessalonians 2:3 – CY – 2014). He stood there, he fell there, with the

powers of darkness. What a moment: The devil may have tempted Christ

to blast His emissaries with the breath of His nostrils; but, true to His

sublime mission, He is occupied only with the safety and future work of

those who knew that He had come out from God.


7 “Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of

Nazareth.”  Again then (οϋν - ounthen - regarding all the conditions,

the cup, the  cross, the blood-baptism, the supreme will, all are at stake) He

asked them, Whom seek ye? Then, restored from their fright and spasm of

conscience, produced by the presence of One whom no fetters, not even

those of death itself, could bind, and reassured now by the same voice

(compare Daniel 10:9-10; Revelation 1:17), they reply, Jesus the Nazarene.

He thus compels them to limit their design, and to single Himself out for the

malice and devilish plot of their masters.


8 “Jesus answered, I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek

me, let these go their way:”  There is much in this that lies beneath the



  • There is an explanation of the miraculous blast which had a few

moments before rolled them at His feet. They will not dare to

disobey Him.  What may He not do, if they proceed to arrest the



  • The disciples are discharged from the immediate function of suffering

and death. They were in imminent danger, as is conspicuous from the

fleeing youth, and from the language of the bystanders subsequently to

Peter; but their hour was not yet come.


  • He would tread the winepress alone.  (Isaiah 63:3)  They were none who

could go with Him into this terrible conflict (compare  “Ye shall leave

me alone;  yet not alone” -  ch. 16:32).





                                    The Moral Courage of Jesus  (vs. 4-8)


We see this if we consider:



There is no virtue in not doing thus if we cannot do otherwise. But what

could Jesus do now?


1. He might have not visited the garden on this night. He knew all that was

coming. He knew that the devil of piltering and covetousness had entered

Judas, and that he was then in the city betraying Him to His thirsty and cruel

foes. He entered not the garden in ignorance of what was coming. It would

be the easiest thing for Him to go elsewhere.


2. He might have escaped before His foes were upon Him. Apart from His

absolute knowledge of things, the gleaming light and subdued talk of the

hostile throng would give Him sufficient warning, and He could have made

His escape under the cover of friendly trees. His little guard slept fast; but

He was awake, and specially sensitive to every approaching sight and



3. He might have disappeared from His foes in their very presence. He

might have let them come upon Him so as to think that He was in their

hands, and then at once vanish away from their very clutches, disappoint

their fondest hopes, and make fools of them all.  (Like He had done before:

ch. 5:13; Luke 4:30 - CY - 2023)


4. He could, with His power, strike them dead, or into a fit so as to make

their hostile attack quite futile. He just showed them what He could do

when He said, “I am He;” they went backwards, and fell to the ground.

What produced this? Was it a flash of His Divinity from without striking

terror to His assailants, or a flash of memory from within of His mighty

deeds? or was it the effect of the simple moral courage and majesty of that

defenseless but heroic One? However, they fell to the ground — a striking

illustration of what He might have done.  (And as He will do when He

comes again!  “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not

God, and that obey not  the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  II Thessalonians



5. He could  have received almighty help from His Father. If He at this time

had not many earthly friends, and those not very strong nor skilful in

human warfare, He was rich in heavenly allies, and these were all at his

command, as he told one of his followers, Thinkest thou that I cannot

now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve

legions of angels?   (Matthew 26:53-54) One of these with the brush of

his wing slew the mighty Assyrian army, (II Kings 19:35) and one of them

would slay all  Christ’s enemies it He so wished. But He did not use His

power nor influence in His own defense. He had sufficient courage

to stand all alone.




1. He remained in the garden. He was perfectly self-composed. He had a

special work to do in the garden. There the coming battle was morally

fought and won. There He trained Himself for the encounter, edged His

sword and put on His armor, and viewed the battle-field. He was too busily

engaged with His Father and the business of His life to be disturbed by the

approaching foe.


2. He went forth to meet His enemies. He had finished His work there, and

His language and action were, “Let us arise, and go hence.” He went forth

to meet them. His courage was not rash, but discreet, and under the

guidance of perfect wisdom. He never went forth to meet His enemies

before, for His hour was not come; but now His hour was come, and as

soon as He heard the clock strike it, instead of waiting their arrival, He went

forth to meet them. He had a great work to do in an hour, and there was

no time to lose. His courage completely spoilt their anticipated sport of a

chase or a fight.


3. He made himself known to them. He could ask them with firmness,

Whom seek ye?” but tremblingly they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” The

Roman soldiers had unflinchingly faced many mighty foes, but this

defenseless Jesus of Nazareth overpowered them with His majesty. “I am

He” proved too much for them. They fell to the ground. And the collision

would have proved fatal to them were it not for the buffers of His goodness

and mercy. Judas’s kiss was unnecessary; Jesus introduced Himself.


4. He went forth, although knowing all. “ Knowing all things that should

come upon Him.”  His knowledge in one sense was disadvantageous to Him.

There is a certain amount of ignorance connected with all human bravery.

Hope of escape and victory is an element in the heroism of the bravest soldier.

If we knew all our future, it would go far to unnerve our courage and

paralyze our energies; but Christ knew all. He had mentally gone through

all the tortures of the next few hours. He knew that death with all its pains

and shame was but a drop to the ocean of His agonies. He knew infinitely

more than the soldiers and the disciples. They only knew the outward;

He knew the inward. They only knew the visible; He knew the invisible.

They only knew a part; He knew all. The weight of death was nothing to

the weight of sin He had to bear. He knew this in all its bearings and

bitterness; but in spite of all, such was His courage that, in this hour of trial,

He did not flag, but went forth.


III. THE SOURCES OF HIS COURAGE. What courage was His?


1. The courage of an exceptionally great nature. We must have an

adequate cause to every effect. The heroism of Jesus, although human, yet

often towered above it and became Divine. He was the Word made flesh,

and God manifested in the flesh. He was a perfect Man, but ever united

with Divinity — full of Divine life which made Him triumphant over death

and its agonies.


2. The courage of loving obedience to his Father’s will. He was ever

conscious of this. It was His delight, and the inspiration of His life. “My

meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work.”

(ch. 4:34) “The cup that my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? 

(v. 11)  It is bitter, but I shall drink from His hand whatever may be the



3. The courage of conscious righteousness and innocency. Guilt and

imposture make a man a coward, while rectitude and innocency make him a

hero.  Conscious of the Divinity of His mission, the purity of His life, the

guilelessness of His spirit, and the rectitude of His motives, Jesus went forth

to meet His foes; and this consciousness raised Him so far above timidity as

to clothe Him with the majesty of Divine heroism, which sent them reeling

to the ground.


4. The courage of perfect knowledge of results. He not only knew His

sufferings, but also His joys; not only the shame, but also the glory; not only

the apparent defeat, but the subsequent grand victories. He could see life in

His death for myriads, and glory in the highest. With the agonizing groans

of Gethsemane were mingled the anthems of triumph, and in the gleam of

torches and lanterns He could see the world flooded with light, and heaven

with glory and happiness.


5. The courage of self-sacrificing and disinterested love. In the greatest

bravery of selfishness there is an element of cowardice; but in Christ there

was not a taint of selfishness, — HIS LIFE WAS ABSOLUTELY A

SACRIFICE FOLR OTHERS!   He would not implicate others in His

hour of trial, but gave Himself to save them — and all this was voluntary.

The volunteer is ever more courageous than the pressed soldier. The courage

of Jesus was that of a volunteer, and His heroism that of Divine and

self-sacrificing love.


·         LESSONS.


1. The foes of Jesus were the unconscious ministers of Divine justice

demanding His life as a raison for sin. They were inspired by hatred to

Jesus, but this hatred was overruled to answer the most benevolent



2. Jesus personally and willingly gave His life up for this purpose. He was

most anxious that justice should be paid in the genuine coin, and not in

counterfeit. “If ye seek me, let these go.”  In consequence of His meeting

the demand of justice by His life, He demands the release of His friends.

He does not ask this as a favor, but demands as His right.


4. This demand is most readily granted. In this instance they were not

touched. Justice cannot resist the logic of Christ’s death and intercession

with regard to believers. If the accepted surety pay, the debtor is free.


5. The infinite importance to be united by faith with Christ. Then the

chastisement of our peace is upon Him (Isaiah 53:5), but otherwise it

must be upon ourselves.


9 “That the saying might be fulfilled, which He spake, Of them which

thou gavest me have I lost none.”  But John found a deeper reason still.

He said this in order that the word which He spake an hour or two before might

be fulfilled, not finally exhausted in its unfathomable depth, but gloriously

illustrated, Concerning those whom thou hast given me, not one of them I lost

(ch. 17:12).  This is a proof that the evangelist was quoting exact words of the

Master, not words which he had theologically attributed to Him. The

temporal safety of the disciples was a means on that dread night of saving

their souls from death, as well as their bodies from torture or destruction.

“Christ,” says Calvin, “continually bears with our weakness when he puts

himself forward to repel so many attacks of Satan and wicked men,

because He sees that we are not yet able or prepared for them. In short, He

never brings His people into the field of battle till they have been fully

trained, so that in perishing they do not perish, because there is gain

provided for them both in death and in life.” The reference of the apostle to

ch.17:12 is, moreover, also one of the numerous proofs which the

Gospel itself supplies, that great, Heaven-taught as the apostle was, he

stands, with all his inspiration, far below, at least on a different plane, from

that occupied by the Lord. His occasional interjections and explanations of

his Master’s words cannot be put on the same level with the words





                        The Unselfishness of Christ (vs. 8-9)


Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane. He had passed through the agony.

He was in the presence of the betrayer and his myrmidons (follower or 

subordinate of a powerful person, typically one who is unscrupulous or

carries out orders unquestioningly). He was about to endure the indignities of

the trials and the anguish of the cross. Yet His thoughts were not of Himself,

but of His friends. Knowing the danger to which they were exposed, the

weakness which still characterized them, He was anxious on their behalf

that they should not be exposed to a trial which they were not then ready

to bear. Hence the stipulation and the plea to which, in surrendering Himself,

He gave utterance, “If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way.”






1. Jesus intended them to be His apostles, and therefore it was not in

accordance with His purposes that they should at that time accompany Him

to trial and to death.


2. It was part of Jesus’ plan to die alone. Malefactors, indeed, yielded up

their breath by His side. But as His was a death unique in its import, it was

not agreeable with His wishes that any of His adherents should partake His

Passion, and distract attention from Himself.  (As the Lamb of God - CY - 2023)


3. In all likelihood the faith and devotion even of His nearest friends were

not such as to enable them to endure participation in His death. They could

not suffer for Christ until Christ had first suffered for them.


4. Our Lord designed to fulfill His own declaration uttered in His

intercessory prayer — that of those given to him He had lost none.




habit to forget Himself in His benevolent work and in His regard for those

whom He came to save. E.g. His disinterested and generous treatment of His

forerunner, John; the complete self-forgetfulness which He displayed in the

season of His temptation, when He, for the sake of His mission to men, lost

sight of hunger, reputation, power; His benevolent ministry to the

multitude, to the sick, the suffering, the sinful. His own ease, comfort, or

renown, never occupied His attention; but no pains did He ever spare that

He might serve the objects of His Divine pity. Christ would not have been

Himself if He had not thought of and secured the liberation of His threatened





SUFFERINGS AND DEATH. It was His own profession that the laying

down of His life should be for His friends — His sheep. Paul testified that Jesus

gave Himself a Ransom for all, that He was a Propitiation for the sins of the

whole world. When the Savior — in accordance with the appointment of

Divine wisdom, and with a view to ends the most purely benevolent that

were ever conceived in the whole history of the universe — hung upon the

cross, it seems to us that He uttered a cry which was the earnest of the

spiritual deliverance and emancipation of mankind, a cry which was the

expression at once of the deepest agony and the kingliest gladness of His

compassionate nature, and-that the purport of the cry was this: “Let these

men go!”



NEGLECTED AND ABUSED. In a family we sometimes observe one

person peculiarly kind and unselfish, whose demeanor, so far from being an

example and an advantage to the other members of the household, is

abused. The yielding and self-denial of one sets others at liberty to carry

out their own favorite plans, to gratify their own selfish tastes. There is

something parallel to this in the way in which some persons in Christian

communities take advantage, for their own temporal comfort and

prosperity, of the influences of Christianity, without at all recognizing their

obligation to the Savior for all the benefits they have received, social and

domestic. So far as we can see, such persons are little the better for all that

Christ has undergone for them, for the immunity from many ills which He

has secured for them. The self-devotion, magnanimity, and pity of the

Redeemer should surely be to such, first a rebuke, and then an exhortation

to a nobler and a better life.




MANKIND. This was the intention of Christ; and it was this prospect

which sustained Him amidst the treachery, the hatred, the desertion, the

malice, the indignities, to which He exposed Himself. How sorely the world

was in need of a principle and power which should correct and heal its

selfishness, is well known to every one who is acquainted with his own

heart, who has studied the moral ills of human society. The wars and

enmities which even now disgrace humanity are sufficient evidence of this.

There were others than Christ who to some extent saw the evil, and desired

to do what in them lay to remedy it. Even the heathen Seneca could say, “I

would so live as if I knew I received my being only for the benefit of

others.” But that which philosophical theory, ethical dogma, even serene

example, could not effect, has been in some measure effected, and will be

brought at last perfectly to pass, by him whose unselfish, self-sacrificing

spirit found utterance in the cry, “Let these men go!”


                        The Unselfishness of Christ (vs. 8-9)


Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane. He had passed through the agony.

He was in the presence of the betrayer and his myrmidons (follower or 

subordinate of a powerful person, typically one who is unscrupulous or

carries out orders unquestioningly). He was about to endure the indignities of

the trials and the anguish of the cross. Yet His thoughts were not of Himself,

but of His friends. Knowing the danger to which they were exposed, the

weakness which still characterized them, He was anxious on their behalf

that they should not be exposed to a trial which they were not then ready

to bear. Hence the stipulation and the plea to which, in surrendering Himself,

He gave utterance, “If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way.”






1. Jesus intended them to be His apostles, and therefore it was not in

accordance with His purposes that they should at that time accompany Him

to trial and to death.


2. It was part of Jesus’ plan to die alone. Malefactors, indeed, yielded up

their breath by His side. But as His was a death unique in its import, it was

not agreeable with His wishes that any of His adherents should partake His

Passion, and distract attention from Himself.  (As the Lamb of God - CY - 2023)


3. In all likelihood the faith and devotion even of His nearest friends were

not such as to enable them to endure participation in His death. They could

not suffer for Christ until Christ had first suffered for them.


4. Our Lord designed to fulfill His own declaration uttered in His

intercessory prayer — that of those given to him He had lost none.




habit to forget Himself in His benevolent work and in His regard for those

whom He came to save. E.g. His disinterested and generous treatment of His

forerunner, John; the complete self-forgetfulness which He displayed in the

season of His temptation, when He, for the sake of His mission to men, lost

sight of hunger, reputation, power; His benevolent ministry to the

multitude, to the sick, the suffering, the sinful. His own ease, comfort, or

renown, never occupied His attention; but no pains did He ever spare that

He might serve the objects of His Divine pity. Christ would not have been

Himself if He had not thought of and secured the liberation of His threatened





SUFFERINGS AND DEATH. It was His own profession that the laying

down of His life should be for His friends — His sheep. Paul testified that Jesus

gave Himself a Ransom for all, that He was a Propitiation for the sins of the

whole world. When the Savior — in accordance with the appointment of

Divine wisdom, and with a view to ends the most purely benevolent that

were ever conceived in the whole history of the universe — hung upon the

cross, it seems to us that He uttered a cry which was the earnest of the

spiritual deliverance and emancipation of mankind, a cry which was the

expression at once of the deepest agony and the kingliest gladness of His

compassionate nature, and-that the purport of the cry was this: “Let these

men go!”



NEGLECTED AND ABUSED. In a family we sometimes observe one

person peculiarly kind and unselfish, whose demeanor, so far from being an

example and an advantage to the other members of the household, is

abused. The yielding and self-denial of one sets others at liberty to carry

out their own favorite plans, to gratify their own selfish tastes. There is

something parallel to this in the way in which some persons in Christian

communities take advantage, for their own temporal comfort and

prosperity, of the influences of Christianity, without at all recognizing their

obligation to the Savior for all the benefits they have received, social and

domestic. So far as we can see, such persons are little the better for all that

Christ has undergone for them, for the immunity from many ills which He

has secured for them. The self-devotion, magnanimity, and pity of the

Redeemer should surely be to such, first a rebuke, and then an exhortation

to a nobler and a better life.




MANKIND. This was the intention of Christ; and it was this prospect

which sustained Him amidst the treachery, the hatred, the desertion, the

malice, the indignities, to which He exposed Himself. How sorely the world

was in need of a principle and power which should correct and heal its

selfishness, is well known to every one who is acquainted with his own

heart, who has studied the moral ills of human society. The wars and

enmities which even now disgrace humanity are sufficient evidence of this.

There were others than Christ who to some extent saw the evil, and desired

to do what in them lay to remedy it. Even the heathen Seneca could say, “I

would so live as if I knew I received my being only for the benefit of

others.” But that which philosophical theory, ethical dogma, even serene

example, could not effect, has been in some measure effected, and will be

brought at last perfectly to pass, by him whose unselfish, self-sacrificing

spirit found utterance in the cry, “Let these men go!”


10 “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high

priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was

Malchus.”  Then Simon Peter. The other evangelists simply tell us that

one of the number of the disciples performed the following act. The οϋν

(then) here is introduced between Simon and Peter, as if to imply that it was not

merely Simon son of Jonas, but Simon the Rock, the man of mighty

impulsive passion, ready, as he said a few hours since, to go with his

Master to prison and to death. The name and identification of Peter with

the brave man who struck at least one blow for his Master, is a proof, not

of John’s animosity against Peter, or any desire to humble him, but rather

to exalt him. The extraordinary concomitance of this act with all the other

delineations of Peter’s character is another undesigned hint of the

authenticity of the narrative. Simon Peter, then, having a sword. Here we

see the unintentional agreement with the synoptic narrative (Luke 22:38).

Nothing would be less likely than that Peter should have a sword at

his disposal; i.e. judging from the Johannine narrative. The Gospel of Luke

explains it. Having a sword, he drew it, and smote the slave (not one of

the ὑπηρέται (deputy; subservient – see v. 3) but the δοῦλοςdoulos

body-servant) of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.  The slave, in

receiving such a wound, must have been in fearful danger of his life. The

reference to the right ear, mentioned also by Luke (Luke 22:50), is noteworthy.

Now the name of the slave was Malchus. Here the eye-witness, not the theologian,

nor the dramatist, reveals his hand. Thoma sees, however, the fulfillment of

prophetic outline, and a reference to the kings and chief captains, the Malchuses

andchiliarchs, that are ultimately to flee before him. The subsequently

mentioned circumstance (v. 15) that the evangelist was “known to the

high priest,” explains this recovery of an otherwise valueless name. The

instant when Peter cried, “Shall we smite with the sword?” was most

opportune. For the moment Peter felt that the whole band could be

discomfited by a bold stroke. Christ with His word, the brave-hearted

apostle with his weapon, could scatter all the foes of the Lord. As on so

many other occasions, Peter gives advice to the Master, only to find

himself in grievous mistake.




                                    The Vanity of Violence (v. 10)


Here we have a peculiarly valuable illustration of the vanity of violence.

Over and above the wickedness of violence, there is the uselessness of it.

Men arm themselves with all sorts of deadly weapons, and go out against

each other; and what is the good of it all? Man was not made for anything

requiring violence or extraordinary exertion. He has neither the muscles,

the claws, nor the fangs of the beast of prey. Man gains his proper results

by the industrious hand, directed by the God-glorifying brain. Nothing of

the highest has ever been gained by brute force.


I. LOOK AT THOSE ATTACKING JESUS. They act after their kind and

according to their light. They know no weapons but force and stratagem.

The whole appearance of this multitude, going out with swords, and sticks,

and lamps, and torches, has something ridiculous and despicable about it.

This array of forces would have been all right if a lion or a bear from the

wilderness had been seen skulking about the Mount of Olives. The

weapons would have corresponded against a murderer or a brigand in

hiding there. But it was Jesus against whom they were going out — Jesus,

who did everything in his work by persuasion and spiritual energy, 


Of course, all this showed great ignorance, but that is what the enemies of

Christ and his Church always do show. The opposition of the world, being

completely ignorant of what has to be conquered, has no astuteness in it.

What can all the combined efforts of the world do against a man who is

ready, if need be, to die for his religion? Jesus in the hands of His enemies is

the grand illustration of how little the enemies of the body of Christ can do,

or rather the particular enemies who make physical pain their weapon.

Such are not the worst enemies. It is not the wolf, confessed in all his

natural ferocity, that we have most to fear, but the wolf in sheep’s clothing,

the foe who comes with the look and language of the friend.




1. The way of Peter. Peter had very likely made himself possessor of one of

the two swords mentioned in Luke 22:38. Of course, this shows an

utter misunderstanding of the meaning of Jesus in ibid. v. 36. If we

act on some wrong meaning of a word of Jesus, we shall suffer for the

blunder, sooner or later. Peter got a weapon into his hands that, to a man

of his rash, impetuous ways, was just the thing to bring him into trouble.

Peter should have done the right thing at the right time. Jesus put him and

others to watch and pray, to act as sentinels. The sentinels fell asleep at

their posts, and reckless lunging with a sword could not mend matters

afterwards. Notice, too, how the effects of this rash act were worst to the

man who committed it. Here surely is the secret of the subsequent denials.


2. The way of Jesus. Jesus yields. He defends and conquers by yielding. He

shows in His own Person how the just man has a fortress impregnable to

violence. He could have vanished mysteriously from the midst of His

enemies, as He had done before; but what would that have advantaged us?

We cannot vanish from an opposing world; we must either meet violence

with violence, or yield what is merely outward, knowing that the inward is

sacred and invulnerable.


11 “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the

cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

In Christ’s reply there is no mention made of the miracle which

followed, and yet the narrative is incomplete without it. Something must

have restrained the band and the high priest’s own temple-watch from at

once arresting Peter, if not the entire group. The characteristic touch,

descriptive of our Lord’s most Divine compassion, is in itself valuable, but

it also accounts for the immunity of Peter. The solemn rebuke of Peter is

full of Divine meaning, and is another link with the synoptic narrative of

the agony. “Put up,” or more literally, Cast the sword into its sheath

(κολεόςkoleos is the classical word; θήκηνthaekaescabbard;

sheath – more generally used of repository, receptacle, sepulcher, etc.); or

into its hiding-place; bury it away (τόπος - topos – place - is

used in Matthew). Matthew adds a memorable saying (Matthew 26:52),

but is silent as to the deep Divine reason of the submission of our Lord to His

fate. The cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? This

imagery recalls the Passion, through which we learn from the synoptists that

our Lord had passed into a Divine patience and submission to the will of God

(Matthew 20:22; 26:39). The use of this most remarkable phraseology

recalls that which John too had heard from His lips in the sweat of His

agony, and of which he and Peter were the principal witnesses. The

supplementary character of the Gospel, though by no means sufficient to

account for all the omissions and additions of this narrative, yet does

explain very much.  Jesus is now of his own accord at the disposal of His

enemies; His words have put a stop to all further steps taken for His




The Sword and the Cup (v. 11)


To ordinary human nature work is easier than patience, and resistance than

submission. Our Lord, in this crisis of His history, both adopted the more

difficult course for Himself, and commended it to His disciples.




Ø      The sword is the symbol of physical force, of resistance. Properly a

weapon of attack, it may nevertheless be used for defense. The sword

is in the hands of the soldier who withstands his foe; of the magistrate

who maintains order and vindicates justice, and who bears it not in vain.

It is the emblem of secular authority, of carnal power.


Ø      There was a sense in which the use of the sword had been sanctioned by

Christ. When he had said, “I came, not to send peace, but a sword,”

(Matthew 10:34).  Jesus had referred to the conflicts which should arise in

society as a result of His mission to earth. But He had, almost immediately

before the occurrence in connection with which the words of the text were

spoken, expressly directed His disciples to arm themselves, telling them of

the perils they should encounter, and bidding them even to sell their garments

in order to procure the means of defense. Evidently there were some kinds of

danger against which they were at liberty to arm.


Ø      The time of Christ’s sacrifice was not the time for resistance. Peter,

indignant at his Lord’s betrayal, impulsive in his nature, and impetuous in

his action, seeing his Master in danger, drew and used his sword. But Jesus

forbade and disclaimed the use of carnal weapons in His cause. His

kingdom was not of this world, and it would not have been consonant

either with His gentle character or with the nature of His religion — a

spiritual religion relying on conviction and affection — to sanction the

promulgation of His doctrine, the extension of His Church, by means of the

sword. Christ’s people were not prohibited from taking advantage of their

privileges as citizens, from using lawful means to secure protection and

safety, from defending themselves against lawless violence. But to resist

civil authority by force, in the name of Christ and for the spread of

Christianity, was certainly forbidden, both by the language and by the

example of Jesus.




Ø      The nature of this cup is apparent from the context as well as from other

parts of Scripture. By “the cup” we are to understand suffering and

sorrow. This is its meaning in the question, “Can ye drink of the cup which

I drink of?” and in the prayer, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”

The bitter ingredients in Christ’s cup were the suffering and agony of body

involved in crucifixion; the mental distress involved in His betrayal, denial,

and forsaking by His disciples, in the apparent success of His enemies’ plot,

in the fickleness and ingratitude of His fellow-countrymen; the anguish of

soul consequent upon His consciousness of the world’s sin, its

estrangement from God, and ill desert, the heavy burden (to change the

figure) of His sacrifice.


Ø      Christ’s shrinking from this cup was natural; for His bodily frame was

sensitive, and His heart was tender. He would fain have avoided drinking

the bitter draught. He even prayed to be relieved from the distressing

experience, if such avoidance and relief were compatible with the Father’s

will, and with His own purpose to redeem mankind.


Ø      The inducement to accept the sorrow was the highest and the most

constraining possible; the CUP was “given” him by His Father. Apparently

it was prepared and handed to Him by His foes. But really, in a wonderful,

mysterious sense, it was the appointment of the Father’s wisdom. This was

not at the time understood by Peter or by the other disciples; Jesus alone

comprehended the nature of this crisis in the moral history of mankind. The

cup was not given as a sign of the Father’s displeasure, but as a means to a

higher spiritual end, which was dear to the Father’s heart.


Ø      The resolve of the Son of man to drink the cup, when this was seen and

felt to be the Father’s will, is very instructive. This was part of His perfect

obedience, of obedience taking the form of submission. Thus was He made

“perfect through suffering.”  (Hebrews 2:10)


Ø      The results of this sacrifice have been most beneficial and precious to

mankind. By drinking the cup of suffering our Savior has released us

from drinking the cup of personal guilt and merited punishment.




Ø      Gratitude and faith towards a Savior so compassionate and self-sacrificing.

Ø      Patience and submission beneath the trials and sufferings of life. When

seeking for motive and for strength to drink the bitter cup of pain and grief,

let Christians recur with humility and with sympathy to the incomparable

example of their suffering Lord.



The Apprehension of Jesus (vs. 1-11)


The crisis has come at last.


  • THE SCENE OF THE ARREST.He went forth with His disciples

over the brook Kedron, where was a garden, into which He entered,

and His disciples.”


Ø      The garden was on the slope of Mount Olivet, and therefore outside


Ø      He did not resort to it for the purpose of hiding Himself from His

enemies; for Judas, the traitor, knew the place. It was to be the scene

of His prayers and His agonies. Its name was Gethsemane.

Ø      It belonged, evidently, to some friend or disciple of Jesus; for it was a

frequent meeting-place for Jesus and the disciples.

Ø      The thought of the garden, as the beginning of the Lords Passion, links

itself by natural association with the garden of Eden, the scene of the

Fall of man, which made the Passion necessary.


  • THE ARRIVAL OF THE BAND. “Judas then, having received the

band, with officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, cometh

 thither with lanterns and torches and arms.”


Ø      Judas is the leading actor in this scene.

Ø      The combination of the Roman soldiers with the police of the Sanhedrin

marks the share of Jew and Gentile in the transaction which culminated

in the scene of Calvary.

Ø      The use of lights at a time when the full moon was in the sky suggested

the fear that Jesus might try to escape arrest in the dark corners of the




knowing all that should happen to Him, went forth, and said to them,

Whom seek ye?”


Ø      There was a Divine necessity recognized in our Lords action; for He

foresaw all the events of the Passion as occurring, not through the mere

malice of men, but by the foreordination of God.

Ø      He does not allow this foreknowledge to paralyze His action or disturb

the quietude of His soul.

Ø      His question, “Whom seek ye? implies that it was not mans power,

but His own permission, which brought His sufferings upon Him.

Ø      The effect of His statement, “I am He” (Jesus the Nazarene), is



o       Whether it was due to natural or to supernatural causes, His

presence had an overwhelming effect upon the band. “They

went backward, and fell to the ground.”

o       His word was not an angry word; but Judas may have led the

band to suppose that Jesus might make a marvelous display

of His power.

o       The scene suggests fear, awe, veneration, and not the display

of force.

o       It suggested to the disciples that the band fulfilled its commission

by Christ’s own consent.


Ø      Jesus pleads for His disciples. “I have told you that I am He: if therefore

ye seek me, let these go their way.”


o       It was necessary for the purposes of His kingdom that the apostles

should be spared.

o       They were not yet in a condition spiritually to die with their Lord.

They all deserted Christ at last.

o       It was needful that He should suffer alone. He was to “tread the

winepress alone.”  (Isaiah 63:3)

o       His care for the disciples was in fulfillment of prophecy. “That the

saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou

gavest me have I lost none”  (ch. 17:12).  Their temporal

preservation was to involve a great and more blessed realization

of spiritual deliverance.


  • PETER’S ATTEMPT AT DEFENSE. “Then Simon Peter having a

sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right



Ø      The action of the apostle, so characteristic of his impulsive nature, was

the proof of love, zeal, faith, and sincerity.

Ø      Our Lord condemns his action.


o       He healed the ear of Malchus, and thus saved Peter from arrest.

o       He shows that there is no warrant for irregular actions or for rash


o       Peter’s conduct threatened to compromise our Lord, who was in

a few hours to assure Pilate, “If my kingdom were of this world,

then would my servants fight.”

o       Our Lord recognized in His coming Passion the bitter cup that His

Father designed for Him. “The cup which my Father hath given

me, shall I not drink it?” He drank it willingly.



The Preliminary Examination before Annas

           Interwoven with the Weakness and Treachery of Peter (vs. 12-27)


This passage describes the first steps taken by the enemies of our Lord to conduct

The examination which was to issue in A JUDICIAL MURDER  and therefore to

provide the basis on which the charge might be laid before Pilate and that

Roman court, which alone could carry into execution the malicious

conclusion on which they had already resolved. Moreover, this passage is

interwoven with the melancholy record of the fall of Peter.


12 “Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus,

and bound Him,”   Therefore i.e. since no further resistance was

made by Jesus — the band (or cohort), which here takes the lead, and the

captain of it, and the officers of the Jews in association with each other,

took Jesus, and bound Him, as sign that He was their prisoner, and to

prevent escape until He should be in safe keeping. It is probable that the

binding process was repeated by Annas and again by Caiaphas (v. 24

and Matthew 27:2), implying that during judicial examination the

cordage was taken off, and reimposed when the accused was sent from one

court to another; or else that additional bonds were placed upon Him, for

the sake either of greater security or of inflicting indignity. Christ, by

accepting the indignity publicly, yielded His holy will, confessing the

supreme ordinance of the Father as to the method in which He would now

glorify Him.


13 “And led Him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to

Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.”  And they led

Him to Annas first. The mention of the word “first” shows that John

discriminated between the two legal processes, the first being a preliminary

examination of the accused, with the view of extracting from Him some matter

which should furnish the priests with definite charges, and to make a show of

partial conformity with the customs of their own jurisprudence. He was

father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that same year. John’s

reiteration of this statement (see ch.11:49 and note) shows that he was in no

ignorance of the custom and principle of high-priestly succession, which the

Romans had treated so arbitrarily. “That same year” was the awful year in

which the Christ was sacrificed to the willful:


  • ignorance,
  • malice, and
  • unbelief


of the Jews.


14  Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was

expedient that one man should die for the people.”  (see ch.11:50,

51); and while John leaves no doubt who is the virtual high priest, he calls

attention to the fact that Jesus had no justice or mercy to expect from the

decision of His judge, and also reminds his readers once more of the

significance of every step in this tragedy.


15 “And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that

disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus

into the palace of the high priest.”  Now. After the first dispersion of all the

disciples, two of them gathered up their courage. Simon Peter was following

Jesus “afar off” (say all the synoptists – Matthew 26:58; Mark 14:54; Luke

22:54), “even εὤςeos - up to -  the court of the high priest” (say

Matthew and Mark). The account of Matthew implies that, having come

up to the door, he went ἔσωesowithin -  and sat down to see the end;

he does not say how he was admitted, though, by the use of the two prepositions,

he implies there was a cause. And also another  disciple: but that disciple

was known to the high priest, and therefore to the officials, and went in

with Jesus into (εἰς τὴν - eis taen – into the,  right within) the court of

the high priest; for he was well known to be, and from the first did not

pretend to be anything else than, one of the disciples of Jesus. From the

known habit of the evangelist in other places, the vast majority of

commentators at once conclude that the writer designates himself by

this reference.  With the absence of the article before ἄλλοςallosother,

the matter is left in doubt. But by this supposition much of the justification

is lost, which the writer of the Gospel quietly supplies, touching his own ability

to describe what otherwise would never have entered into the evangelic narrative.

The supposition we have made, that Annas and Caiaphas occupied the same palace,

or different portions of the same edifice, solves the chief difficulty. Annas held his

preliminary unofficial inquiry in his department of the building. The difficult

question arises whether Annas was assisted or not by the reigning “high

priest” in conducting this examination (see v. 19).


16 “But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other

disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her

that kept the door, and brought in Peter.”   But Peter was standing at the

door without. Up to this moment Peter had only pressed as far as to the outer

door; the other disciple had gone bravely in. The hum of voices was now

deadened by the closed door dividing Peter from his Lord. The height, the cold,

the strange blighting of all his expectations, the necessary conviction forced

upon him that he had implicated himself by the assault he had delivered on the

servant of the high priest, combined to induce a new and desponding

mood. All hope had fled. Then John bethought him of the condition of his

friend, and so we read that the other disciple, who was known to the

high priest, therefore went out to the entrance-door, and finding Peter

there, spake to her who kept the door (compare Acts 12:13). His appeal

may easily be supplied — and he brought in Peter. The other evangelists

imply that before Peter was challenged the fire of coals had been lighted,

and that the apostle, with the servants and with the rest of the group who

had apprehended Jesus gathered round it. He placed himself as if he were

an unconcerned spectator, identified himself, as it were, rather with the

captors than with the Lord; nor is the narrative of John inconsistent with

the synoptic statement. In v. 18 the incident is certainly introduced by

the writer after he mentioned the challenge. Still, he states it as a condition

of the denial rather than as a subsequent event. Matthew describes his

position as “without, in the court ” (Matthew 26:69), not in the audience-

chamber, but in a court opening “upon” it or “above” it, as Mark (Mark 14:66)

implies.  Luke tells us he was “sitting in the midst of the court” (Luke 22:55),

with the glow of the burning charcoal on his face, “he was πρὸς τὸ φῶς

pros to phos – by the fire; by the light - ” (Ibid. v. 56) - where the maiden

might see him more attentively than when she hurriedly admitted him. “The

other disciple” had moved swiftly on to some corner where he could see

and hear all that was happening to the Master. But Peter’s first step

downwards had been already inwardly taken. Before he had verbally denied

his Lord, he had acted as though he were indifferent to the result.  Matthew’s

and Mark’s accounts represent Peter’s first and other denials as taking place

after the mockery of Jesus that followed upon His great confession of

Messiahship (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69).   Luke places them

all three together before the formal examination or confession, and before the

 judicial condemnation. John’s account throws much needed light upon the

synoptic narrative, which is more inconsistent with itself than with that of the

Fourth Gospel.  Matthew’s method of putting together into connected

concurrent groups miracles, events, sayings, or parables which are allied to

each other, will explain the substantially identical report contained in his

and Mark’s Gospels. There are with all differences some remarkable



  • All four accounts describe our Lord’s prediction of Peter’s denial.
  • All four evangelists agree to represent the first temptation as

proceeding from “a certain maiden,” “one of the maids of the high

priest,or “a damsel.”  


17 Then saith the damsel  that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also

one of this man’s  disciples? He saith, I am not.”  John’s Gospel explains the

point by saying, the maid who kept the door (θυρωρός - hae thuroros

the doorkeeper - ) said therefore, seeing she had admitted him,  not in the rush

of the other servants, but at the request of “the other disciple” — considerable

meaning is thus put into her words, which is lost in the synoptists by lack of the

hint already given by John — Art thou, as well as my acquaintance yonder, also

one of this Man’s disciples? He saith, I am not. The other evangelists amplify

this negative in various ways. Mark, the reporter of Peter’s own preaching,

aggravates throughout the heinousness of Peter’s fall, adding, “He denied,

saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest.”  (Mark 14:68).

His position was sufficiently taken, and he thought to have established for

himself a perfect incognito.




            Ardent Affection and Fearful Falsehood (vs. 15-17)


The inconsistency of which human nature is capable is proverbial. In the

conduct of Peter we have a very striking instance of this characteristic

quality of man. In Peter we have extremes meeting. None of Christ’s

disciples showed a quicker and clearer appreciation of the Master’s claims;

none showed a more fervent attachment to the Master Himself. Yet, strange

to say, Peter was conspicuous above the rest for his faint-heartedness in

the time of trial and of danger. The two dispositions are equally apparent

upon occasion of the incident recorded in this passage.


I. ARDENT AFFECTION. The sincerity and strength of Peter’s love for

Jesus cannot be questioned.


1. It was this which had impelled him to draw the sword in his Master’s


2. It was this which impelled him to follow Jesus when his colleagues and

companions had fled.

3. It was this which urged him to accompany John without having the

guarantee of safety which John possessed.

4. It was this which led him to dare the risk attaching to the neighborhood

of the court and high priest’s dwelling. No motive save the pure motive of

affection could have induced Peter to act as he did.




1. This was apparently upon a slight occasion and inappreciable danger.

The charge brought by a maid who kept the door was enough to throw off

his guard the boldest and chief of the apostles.

2. It was in contrast with his previous confessions. None of the twelve had

been more forward to apprehend and to acknowledge the claims of Jesus

to Messiahship and to Divinity than had Peter.

3. It was a poor recompense for the distinguishing favor which had been

shown to Peter in common with two other of the twelve. He who had been

on the mount and in the garden with Jesus now denied Him.

4. It was the occasion of bitter remorse and true repentance on the part of

the offender against conscience and against Christ.

5. It became a recollection, which in his after-ministry stimulated Peter to

watchfulness and to prayer.


LESSON. The narrative is a warning against relying too much upon

religious feeling. Peter felt deeply and warmly towards Christ; yet he fell.

Many Christians think that they are secure because the gospel touches their

emotions. The counsel of Jesus Himself must not be forgotten: “Watch and

pray, lest ye enter into temptation!”   (Mark 14:38)





                                    The Folly of Fear (v. 17)


Simon Peter, having shown the vanity of violence in his useless blow at the

high priest’s servant, now proceeds to show the folly of fear in a vain

attempt to conceal his connection with Jesus. Extremes meet. The spirit

that impels to a reckless, random attack is immediately followed by the

spirit that seeks present safety at any cost. The denial by Peter illustrates

many truths. We take it here as illustrating the folly of fear.


I. PETER MEANT TO BE PRUDENT. He sought to keep safe what he

valued most, and what he valued most was his own present life. What a

man most fears to lose is his treasure. Peter had not yet gained the true

prudence, because he had not yet found out the most precious thing a man

can possess, even an inward union with that which is inward in Jesus. He

had to do the best he could for the best he had, and that best led him into a

lie. Once he admitted his association with Jesus, he did not know what the

admission might lead to.


II. THE ONLY PATH TO TRUE COURAGE. The Christian can be the

only truly courageous person. For he knows that, whatever may come from

the outside, the best things are safe. A higher courage is often needed than

that in which Peter proved to be lacking, even moral courage. Some would

even dare to die, but they would not dare to fly in the face of the world’s

customs and demands. Peter had harder things to do afterwards than

preserve his natural life. He had to turn his back on Judaism. He had to

make ready for being laughed at and sneered at, again and again. The

wisest fear is a fear of losing living union with Jesus. If we value that as

we ought to do, then the laughter and the threats of men will be robbed of

what makes them so dreadful to many.


18 “And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of

coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them,

and warmed himself.”  The εἰστήκεισαν δὲ  heistaekeisan de – had stood

yet -  implies the conditions under which the  first fearful fall of Peter was

accomplished. Now the servants and the officers were standing (imperfect tense),

having made (πεποιηκότες pepoinaekotesones having made -  perfect

participle) a fire of coals (ἀνθρακιάν - anthrakian – charcoal fire), congeries

prunarum ardentium (compare ch.21:9; Eccleiasticus. 11:32, “a glowing fire;”

Aquila, Psalm 120:4), because it was cold (in the dead of the night, even in

April, at the present day, the temperature falls considerably, and the cold is

felt far more keenly in these climates in contrast with the heat of the sun by

day): and Peter was standing with them, standing and warming

himself. The whole construction of the sentence implies that this was how

matters stood while the examination was going on to which John then

reverts. The synoptists know or say nothing of this first examination, which

bears upon it strong marks of authenticity.


19 “The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples, and of His doctrine.”

The οϋν  (then) connects the following incident with vs. 13-14.  The high priest.

We find it far more satisfactory to accept this less formal examination, under the

presidency of Annas, at which an attempt is made to put the Lord, if possible, to

a test which will incriminate Him. If Caiaphas were the acting high priest, and at

the same time the soul of the movement against Jesus, it was for him and

not for his father-in-law to take knowledge of the matter and report to the

Sanhedrin. We must choose between two difficulties:   


  • Caiaphas is first spoken of as “high priest,” who, as we know from the

synoptists, conducted the examination-in-chief, and then that Annas, as

conducting a preliminary examination, is also styled “high priest” without

any explanation;

  • or we must admit the supposition that after Caiaphas had asked these

incriminating questions, Annas (who was not ἀρχιερεὺςarchiereus

chief priest), sent Jesus bound to Caiaphas the high priest. The former

hypothesis is the easier.


The high priest then asked Jesus concerning His disciples, the extent of

His following, the number of His accomplices, the ramifications of the

society or kingdom He professed to have founded, and concerning His

doctrine, the secret teachings that held his followers together. He

evidently knows the claims of Jesus well enough; his spies and officers

have continually been dogging the steps of Jesus, and hitherto he has failed

to gain evidence positively incriminating Him. And as his representatives a

few days ago were utterly foiled, notwithstanding their clever design, he

hopes by his own ingenuity to entrap the Lord in His talk. Our Lord,

anxious not to endanger His disciples, points to the publicity of His ministry,

and appeals to all and sundry who have heard Him.


20 “Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in

the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort;

and in secret have I said nothing.” Jesus answered him, I have frankly

(not “openly,” but boldly, with freedom of speech) spoken  to the world.

Without reserving any of the essentials of my teaching, always I taught

in synagogue, and in the temple, whither all the Jews resort and

come together; and in secret spake I nothing, which they were not bidden

to proclaim upon the housetops. Christ here repudiates esoteric teaching

distinct from His abundant public ministry. It is true He explained His

parables to His disciples, and He had within the last few hours poured forth

the depth of His feelings upon them; still, He had said the same things

virtually in the synagogues, on the hillside, in the temple, in the hearing of

Greek as well as Jew. Much of that which He had just said in the upper

chamber, hundreds and thousands had already heard. This great utterance

accounts for the fact that Paul ha                  





                        The Publicity of Christ’s Ministry (vs. 19-20)


Had the high priest questioned Jesus in this manner from any real desire to

be his disciple, or from an ordinary and intelligent curiosity, his inquiries

would have been received in a very different manner from that in which

Jesus did actually respond to them. But it was plain that the whole purpose

of the interrogator was to induce Jesus to criminate Himself and His

disciples. Thus it was that Jesus, taking no notice of the question

concerning His adherents, referred the high priest, for information regarding

His teaching, to those who had heard Him discourse and converse. There

could be no difficulty in obtaining evidence upon this; for, as Jesus

asserted, His teaching had been open and public, and multitudes of the Jews

had heard His doctrine.




PUBLICITY. In the country districts He taught in the synagogues, the

places appointed for public religious instruction and worship. In the

metropolis He was wont to frequent the precincts of the temple, not only

upon ordinary occasions, but at the great national festivals. He expressly

witnessed that His open instructions had been intended for the benefit of the

Jews and of the world at large.




nothing to be ashamed of in the whole cycle of His doctrine. And knowing

that His communications were adapted to benefit all mankind, Jesus

benevolently desired to bring as many as possible under the sound of His

voice, under the influence of His revelation, counsels, and promises. His

lessons were as the living waters of the brook, which flow in a ceaseless

stream, so that all may drink of them and be refreshed.




OF HIS FOES. If He had spoken aught secretly, an opening might have

been left for the slanderous imputations of His foes. But all Judea and all

Galilee were witnesses to His doctrines concerning God, concerning man,

concerning duty, sin, judgment, forgiveness, and life eternal. Of high and

holy doctrine unnumbered witnesses were able to testify. But none could

be brought forward with any credible account of sayings subversive of

order, of peace, of morality. Nothing could be clearer than the inability of

Christ’s foes to convict Him of any teaching which might justify their




FOLLOWERS TO COPY. Christianity has no esoteric doctrines, no secret

societies or guilds, no rites or ceremonies for private performance.

Christianity is no sect, no party. A world-wide religion, it challenges the

attention of all mankind. Those who teach and preach in Christ’s name are

bound to follow the example of their Lord — to discharge their ministry in

public places wherever men resort. The language of the true preacher of

wisdom and righteousness is this: “To you, O men, I call, and my voice is

unto the sons of men.”

d received, long before the Fourth

Gospel was written, truth allied to the teaching of the upper chamber.




                                    Nothing to Conceal (v. 20)


I. A CONTRAST. What religion is there that can bear the light of day as

Christianity can? The false needs to be arranged and beautified and kept

ever in one particular light. Jesus could expose everything if necessary.

What a contrast to the life in the temple at Jerusalem! There was not a

priest who could afford to have all his doings brought out and set before

men. This ought to be part of our power when we are dealing with false

religions. The more they are searched into, the more their abominations are

exposed. The more Christianity is searched into, the more transparent and

attractive it becomes. Not that everything is clear to the intellect, not that

there is absence of mysteries; but these mysteries, whatever they are, lie

open for everybody to contemplate them and be the better for them. The

mysteries of heathendom are only priest-craft when one gets in behind them.

Christianity is symbolized by the contents of the ark. That ark was sacred,

not to be touched with heedless hands; but once it was opened, nothing lay

there but the commandments, every one of which uttered forth the

condemnation of everything false.


II. AN EXAMPLE. That openness which was in Jesus must be in all His

followers. All true Christian assemblies are perfectly open places, except

when, in charity and kindness to individuals, the door is closed; and even

then the closing of the door is known to all, and why it is so. Those

entrusted with the propagation of Christianity have nothing to conceal.

Their aim is the good of men; their method is by persuasion and appeal;

they draw all their topics and their teaching from a book which is as open

to others as to themselves. None of the first apostles needed to conceal

anything; there was no false step, no dubious word of their Master to gloss

over or keep in the background; and similarly we have nothing to apologize

for. We need not to proclaim a mere ideal for the acceptance of men. Our

real is better than the best ideal our imagination can fancy.


III. A CAUSE FOR GLORYING. Difficulty is taken out of our way. We

feel that since all is open and clear and satisfactory now, it always will be

so. We find nothing to be ashamed of, nothing contradictory, in our

experience of Christ in time. And similar surely will be our experience in

eternity. “Whatever record leap to light,” Christ will be the same. Whatever

testimonies be unearthed, there will be nothing awkward to get over.


21 “Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said

unto them: behold, they know what I said.”  Why askest thou me? If thou

wantest evidence touching my design, my disciples, or my teaching, ask,

interrogate, those who have heard me, what I have said to them. Lo, these

(pointing to numbers in the angry crowd around him) know what I spake

unto them (the ἐγώ – ego – I – at the end of this sentence is very emphatic).

Christ thus rebukes the craftiness and hypocritical endeavor of His enemies to

induce Him to inculpate His disciples, or to give His prosecutors matter against

Him. To false witnesses He preserved an invincible silence, and before Caiaphas

and Pilate He answered to many of their queries not a single word, insomuch

that these governors marveled greatly. However, the case was altered

when Caiaphas, in full Sanhedrin, officially challenged Him to say whether

He was the Christ, and adjured Him to declare whether He was the Son of

God. Then, on the most public scale, knowing well the issues of His

declaration, and of His oath-bound word, He did not hesitate to confess that

HE WAS THE SON OF GOD, and would come in the glory of His Father,

and that He was no less than the Christ of God. On the present occasion, when

Annas was seeking to justify his own craft, and to utilize the disgraceful

betrayal which he had diplomatically and cruelly contrived, Jesus refused to

incriminate either Himself or His disciples.




                        The Right People to Ask (v. 21)



teacher that could refer confidently to his hearers, not even to his most

attached and trustful ones. If he did, and if an accurate report could be got

of all their impressions, the result might not be very complimentary to the

teacher. He might find out that as yet he himself was only a learner. He

might find out that he himself was only making guesses and dealing with

the surface of things. But Jesus knew whence He came, and all He said was

said with the spontaneity, the natural coherence, belonging to Him who

spake as never man spake.  (ch. 7:46)  We know the impression the teaching

of Jesus makes upon us, and we know that the miscellaneous crowds who first

listened to Him must have been impressed in the same way. It is not meant

that they understood everything, or always understood rightly. But there

was this impression, at all events, that JESUS SPOKE WITH AUTHORITY

and not as the scribes. Jesus knew that the common people of the country were

not against Him, and His enemies also knew that they could not afford to inquire

too curiously into the opinions of the multitude. That multitude might not

be enthusiastic about Jesus, but a decided condemnation of Him the

multitude never would give, if only a sufficient number of people had been




too much accustomed to fly to books about Jesus which have intellectual

merit rather than personal experience in them. Jesus referred confidently to

the great bulk of His auditors, even the common people. And we should try

to find out what the common people think about Him. If Jesus cannot bless

everybody, He cannot bless anybody. The scribes and Pharisees made

difficulties where the common people made none. And so we should do

well in our difficulties to consider whether they are shared by others. There

is great benefit in listening to the opinions of all sorts of people about Jesus

Christ. It is well, on the one hand, to hear what can be said by the learned

and academic mind; and it is also well, on the other, to listen to those who,

behind all that has been peculiar in Christ’s teaching, all that has wanted

learning whereby to understand it, have seen the universal truth that was

meant to do them good. Christ’s teaching can lay hold of hearts and

consciences when the most elaborate system of mere ethics has no grasp.

Christ is more than anything He has said, and those who make no pretence

to intellectual superiority or anything special, can see Him through His every

word and deed. We had better not reject Christ before we have listened

well to the kind of people who have accepted Him.


22 “And when He had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by

struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the

high priest so?”  And when He had said these things, one of the officers

standing by, anxious to win with his officious zeal the approval of his

master, gave Jesus a ῤάπισμαrapisma – slap. (It cannot be settled

whether this word means a stroke with a rod or a blow on the

cheek or ear, which was the current punishment for a word supposed to be

insolent; but δέρειςdereisyou are lashing - of v. 23, which means

“to flay,” implies a more severe punishment than a blow on the face with

the hand.) This is the beginning of the coarse and terrible mockery which

was the lot of the sublime Sufferer through the remaining hours of the

awful day which is now dawning on Him. Saying, Answerest thou the

high priest so?


23 “Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil:

but if well, why smitest thou me?” Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil,

come forward as a witness of the evil which thou hast heard. Thus He took no

notice of the charge brought against Him. But if I have spoken well, why smitest

thou me? A quiet appeal to the conscience of the wretched upstart who

dared to insult THE LORD OF GLORY!   It is thus that the Lord explained the

spirit of His own injunction, “Whosoever shall smite thee on the one cheek,

turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). Nothing was gained by this

private interrogatory except an appeal to the outside world of His hearers,

and a call for testimony; and no decision could be legally taken against Him

without incriminating evidence.  The chief priests and Pharisees, from their

intestine animosities, had great difficulty in formulating any specific charge. The

Pharisaic party, if they made a point of His doctrine and practice concerning

the sabbath, would have been foiled by the Sadducean latitudinarians; and

the priests did not dare to call in question His imperial cleansing of the

temple, knowing that the Pharisees would immediately have justified the

act. Consequently, Annas limited his inquiries to the supposed esoteric

character of some private teachings to His initiated disciples — a charge

that was refuted by the continual publicity and openness of all His teaching.


24 “Now Annas had sent Him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.”

The οϋν (then) is quite in John’s style, and the verse should read,

Annas therefore sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest; i.e. to the

full court of the Sanhedrin, under the presidency of Caiaphas, now got

together for the judicial sifting and verdict. If John had intended a

pluperfect sense to be given to the verb, why not use that tense? The

relative clauses, where the aorist is used for the pluperfect, are not relevant

here. In other cases the context clearly reveals the occasion of

such a sense (see Matthew 16:5; 26:48). John is not unaware of the

momentous consequences of this act of Annas, seeing that he refers to

them, nor of the fact of the accusation made by the false witnesses, nor of

the judicial condemnation which followed Christ’s own claim to be the Son

of God. The subsequent narrative implies such condemnation (vs. 29-30, 35;

ch.19:11). The author of this narrative does not ignore the fact of

the appearance before Caiaphas, nor the issue; but in consequence

of the wide diffusion of the synoptic Gospels, he merely called attention to

the facts which they had omitted so far as they bore directly on the human

character of the Lord. The theological bias with which the evangelist is

credited by some would be strangely subserved both by the omission of the

scene before Caiaphas, and by the faithful record of this purely human and

beautiful trait in the personal character of Jesus. The fact that the fourth

evangelist should have recorded facts of which he was eye-witness, and

omitted others which would have forcibly sustained his main thesis, is an

invincible evidence of historicity.




Jesus Before Annas and Caiaphas (vs. 12-24)


The ecclesiastical trial comes first. Owing to the relation between Annas

and Caiaphas, they probably dwelt in the same house, and there may have

been an informal trial by Annas before the acting high priest, Caiaphas,

investigated the case of Jesus.


  • THE INQUIRY OF CAIAPHAS. “The high priest then asked Jesus of

His disciples, and of His doctrine.”


Ø      The object was to extract from the tips of Jesus some answer that might

become the ground of His condemnation.

Ø      The high priest was anxious to ascertain the number of Christs

disciples and the principles of His teaching.


  • THE ANSWER OF JESUS. “I spake openly to the world; I ever taught

in open synagogue, and in the temple, whither all the Jews resort; and in

secret have I said nothing.”


Ø      He does not answer the inquiry concerning His disciples, whose safety

He fears to compromise.

Ø      He protests the entire publicity of His teaching.

Ø      There was nothing secret or esoteric in His doctrine. He taught publicly

what He taught secretly. The disciples were charged to proclaim on the

housetops what they heard in the ear (Matthew 10:27).

Ø      He demands a formal trial, and the summoning of witnesses. “Why

askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto




THE SAVIOR. “And when He had thus spoken, one of the officers which

stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou

the high priest so?”


Ø      Jesus had done nothing to justify this rude assault; for in His answer He

was only using the liberty the Law allowed Him. He was, as always, an

innocent Sufferer.

Ø      Our Lords answer was a gentle reproof of public injustice. “If I have

spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?”


o       He does not smite the officer dead by His power, but

remonstrates against injury.

o       Though He does not avenge the insult, He will vindicate His own

conduct. We therefore infer:


§         that it is not wrong to defend our innocence or good name;

§         that there is no inconsistency between our Lord’s action

in this case and His counsel in the sermon on the mount:

If they smite thee on one cheek, turn the other also.”

This condemns revenge, but does not silence us

in the presence of wrong. Our Lord’s own practice, therefore,

explains His precept (Matthew 5:39).



25 “And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore

unto him, Art not thou also one of His disciples? He denied it, and

said, I am not.”  Ἠν δέHn de – was yet. In startling contrast to this scene,

and while Annas had completed his bad-hearted but foiled inquisition, possibly

even while our Lord was being transferred from the one court to the other —

an event which provided an opportunity for the searching, loving, compassionate

glance which broke Peter’s heart — the second and third denials of Peter

were also being enacted. Now Simon Peter, who had been challenged by

the doorkeeper, was standing and warming himself (a form of verbal

construction of auxiliary verb with participle to which John is addicted, and

especially in those portions of his Gospel which represent his personal

composition; ch.1:6, 9, 24, 27; 3:24, 27) — “standing,” not “sitting,”

as Luke describes his position at the first denial, having, we might suppose,

impetuously changed his position. They said therefore unto him, Art

thou also one of his disciples? This sentence of John really gathers up

another moment of Peter’s terrible fall, variously and even discrepantly put

by the synoptic narrative, and is virtually accordant with them all three.

According to Matthew “another maid,” according to Mark “the maid” who

had first challenged him, returned to the assault. Nothing more likely than

that what was said by one woman should be eagerly taken up by another,

and therefore that both statements are true. Luke, however, describes the

event thus: ἕτερος eteros - another man (perhaps “a different person” –

Luke 22:58) saw him  and said, “Thou art one of them.” John’s statement

embraces the substance of all three statements, “They said unto him.” The

general resemblance of the second charge brought against the apostle, as stated

by all four evangelists, is remarkable. The different personages by whose lips the

charge was urged can best be explained by the occurrence of simultaneous

and widely spreading conviction, instead of an unnecessary multiplication

of the denials themselves. Matthew and Mark represent Peter as

overhearing the conversation of the maids with (ἐκεῖekei - those who

 were there), showing the obvious occasion for some eager ἕτερος (person)

to take up their statement as an accusation. The difficulty of place is not so easily

resolved, for Matthew and Mark speak of the πυλών pulon  - gate, or

προαύλιονproaulion porch - outer hall of the court, and John of the fire

where Peter first sat in apparent unconcern. We do not know how near the fire

was to the πυλών, whether it was not indeed between the θύρα - thuradoor –

and the  πυλών, in the προαύλιον. According to Matthew he was moving

towards the πυλών, probably in the stir of the procession from the house

of Annas to the court of Caiaphas. The four evangelists agree in the

declaration made by Peter. He denied, and said, I am not; i.e. I am not

one of the disciples concerning whom Annas asks. “I do not know the





26 “One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear

Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?

27  Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.”

Between the second and third denials some time elapsed. Thus according to

Matthew and Mark “after a little while” (Matthew 26:73; Mark 14:70),

according to Luke “about the space of one hour after” (Luke 22:59),

an effort was made to identify Peter by some sign of his association with Jesus.

All the synoptists represent it as turning on his provincial, Galilaean, speech, but

John gives a closer point of identification. There were thousands of Galilaeans in

Jerusalem, and this was a feeble ground of proof, though it may have

corroborated the suspicion of the maidens and others, that Peter was an

accomplice of the hated Nazarene; but the charge came home in terrible

earnest and verisimilitude as recorded by John. His account is far more

lifelike, forcible, and circumstantial. The fourth evangelist says, One of the

servants (δούλων - doulon) of the high priest, being a kinsman of him whose

ear Peter cut off, says, Did I not see thee in the garden with Him? The

historically attested fact gave the lie to Peter’s previous assertions. Clearly

he was seen and recognized and in imminent peril, and he is now more

vehement than ever. Matthew and Mark tell, “he began to curse and swear,

saying, I do not know the Man” (Matthew 26:74; 14:71).  John, with less

feeling of reproach, says, Peter therefore denied again. The intercessory prayer,

the solemn warning, the agony in the garden, above all, the following of the

sublime encouragements by this fearful failure, the ignominious binding and rude

indignity offered to the Man who had claimed to be THE VICEREGENT

AND IMAGE AND GLORY OF THE FATHER, combined to shatter Peter’s

courage, though it did not annihilate his faith. The Lord had prayed that his

faith should not fail (Luke 22:31-32).  He was sifted as wheat, but the

apostle knew, even in the depths of his shame, that he was a poltroon and

coward, and that the Lord was everything He said He was. But meanwhile

he denied again, he kept up with his violence of language, his hypocritical

denial of his own faith — and straightway the cock crew. Mark, who had

made the prediction of our Lord cover a twofold cockcrowing, records the

twofold fulfillment; John, who in ch.13:38 had given the prediction

“before the cock crow,” here shows how Peter must have been reminded

of his Lord’s preternatural knowledge and forecast. So that, though John

does not mention the repentance, he refers to the well-known occasion of

it, and, moreover, shows more forcibly than either of the synoptists the

extraordinary tenderness of the risen and reconciled Lord to his erring and

cowardly disciple. Some extreme harmonists have spread out the fault of

Peter into nine distinct acts of treachery; others have reduced them to

seven or eight. M’Clellan, in a powerful note (p. 447), urges that there

were “twice three,” or six distinct denials. Matthew and Mark report three

denials while the trial before Caiaphas was going on; these are, according

to M’Clellan, entirely distinct from John’s “first denial,” which preceded

even the lighting of the fire. Nor does he allow that Luke’s first denial,

“sitting at the fire,” can coincide with John’s “second denial,” which must

also have preceded that which Luke gives as the first, and that John’s

“third denial” is distinct again from Matthew’s third, Mark’s third, and

Luke’s third. Thus he makes John’s account entirely supplementary to the

synoptists. Peter may have used a variety of expressions on each occasion,

and each challenge may have been accompanied by some features not

especially noted as to posture or place, but the arrangement adopted in the

text represents a threefold assault upon the apostle, which had three crises

of intensity and terrible result. Taking Matthew and Mark as virtually

identical, Luke’s account as a separate tradition with reference to the

second denial, and agreeing with Matthew and Mark in the third, and in his

first with John’s second, we have three denials once more following the

prediction. John’s account, whether distinct or not from the other two

records, bears the same relation to our Lord’s previous announcement that

the synoptists’ do to theirs, and shows that in no quarter was there a

general belief in more than three virtual acts of apostasy. Mark alone

mentions a twofold warning from the cock, one after the first denial, and

on Peter’s going out to the προαύλιον (porch) or the enclosure, i.e. between

the πυλών (gate) and the θύρα (door) and again after the third denial.

Others find a threefold denial before each crowing of the cock.


Certainly John has omitted the entire scene detailed by the synoptists in the

hall of Caiaphas, viz. the calling of the witnesses; the lack of harmony in

the false witnesses; the adjuration of Caiaphas; the wondrous confession of

the persecuted and bound Sufferer; the verdict pronounced against Him, on

the part of all assembled, that He was guilty of death; the first cruel

mockery; and the very early assembly of the entire Sanhedrin — all the

chief priests (πάντες οἱ αρχιερείς - pantes oi archiereis) and elders of the people pantes hoi

archiereis – all the chief priests (Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1, the chief priests,

with the elders and scribes and all the Sanhedrin). The synoptists assure us that

the object of this council — which was probably held in the celebrated chamber

of the temple appropriated for the purpose — was to adopt the most suitable

measures for immediately carrying their unanimous judgment into effect.

As we shall see shortly, John is perfectly aware of such a measure having

been taken (see not only v. 31, but ch.11:47, etc.). Nevertheless, he passes on

at once to the legal and civil trial before the Roman proprietor.  

This is not the place to discuss the twofold trial of Jesus before the

Sanhedrin. Derembourg, Farrar, and Westcott suppose that the first

demands of the high priest, as to whether he was the Christ, as given by

Matthew and Mark, were different from the scene described by Luke,

where he claimed ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν apo tou nun – hereafter - to be seated

on the right hand of the power of God (Luke 22:69), and suppose that this last

was the occasion, when the verdict was given by the Sanhedrin in full session,

not in the palace of the high priest, but in the “Gazith,” or possibly in the

“Booths of Hanan,” on the Mount of Olives. Luke clearly discriminates between

οἶκον  τοῦ ἀρχιερέως oikos tou archiereos  - house of the chief priest

(Ibid.v. 54), and the συνέδριον αὐτῶνsunedrion autonSanhedrin,

of v. 66.




The Three Denials of Peter (vs. 15-17, 25-27)


After all the disciples had fled, some, like John and Peter, returned to the

scene of our Lord’s last trials. This fact must be remembered to Peter’s





Ø      The first circumstance was his introduction into the court of the high

priest by John. This brought him into dangerous association with Christ’s


Ø      The second was his recognition by those who had seen him in the

garden at the time of our Lords arrest.

Ø      The third was his Galilaean accent.

Ø      The fourth was the injury he had done with the sword to Malchus. There

was thus a combination of fear and presumption in his presence among

Christ’s enemies.


  • PETER’S FALL The denial of Christ was:


Ø      A serious crime, regarded by itself and its repetition, and in the light of

the warning that preceded it, and the oaths and the curses that followed

it.  It was a crime full of ingratitude, cowardice, and lies.

Ø      Mark the peculiarity of this crime.


o       Consider it in the light of Peter’s calling.


§         He was an apostle, a chosen “fisher of men.”

§         He was admitted to the closest intimacy with our blessed

Lord, and honored with his deepest confidence and affection.

He might well say, To whom shall we go but unto thee?

Thou hast the words of eternal life.” (ch. 6:68)


o       Consider Peter’s crime in the light of his circumstances, and his

transgression is somewhat extenuated.


§         He had passed the previous night in watching. He was

nervous and excited from the want of sleep, as well as

from the prospect of losing the best of Masters.

§         He was deserted by the other apostles, who were

scattered everywhere.  Peter’s courage was of that

character that rises when the danger is to be

encountered with surrounding circumstances of


§         The personal help of Jesus was, besides, now suddenly


§         His attack upon Malchus weakened his courage. When a

man does a wrong thing or takes up a wrong position,

he is from that moment a weaker man.

§         He did not yet comprehend the necessity of Christ’s death.

“Far be it from thee”  (Matthew 16:22).  He was not,

therefore, himself in a position to die.


o       Consider Peter’s crime in the light of his character, and it is easily

explained. He was:


§         confident and zealous, but

§         lacking in firmness and resolution. His character was a

curious mixture of courage and fear.



The crowing of the cock, and our Lord’s look, awakened him to his true

state. The look had a penetrative force in his soul.


Ø      It was a look of lasting remembrance. “Did I not tell thee that thou

wouldst deny me?”

Ø      It was a look of inward sorrow.Is this thy sympathy for thy Friend?”

Ø      It was a look of blessed consolation. “I have prayed for thee, that thy

faith fail not.”  (Luke 22:31-32)

Ø      It was a look that, perhaps, gave a timely hint to the apostle to depart at

once from the scene of danger.




Ø      He went out, and wept bitterly.


o       Solitude was the only resource after such a crisis.

o       The flow of penitential tears, so honoring to Jesus, would be

refreshing to the apostle.


Ø      His fall made him humble and sympathizing and consolatory in his

relations with the Church. His Epistles contain traces of the effects of:


o       his fall and

o       his restoration.


From v. 28 to ch. 19:16 is the account of the Roman trial, presupposing the decision

of the Sanhedrin.



Without the Praetorium Pilate Extorts the Malign

Intention of the Jews, and Dares Them to Disobey Roman Law.

                                    (vs. 28-32)


28 “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it

was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest

they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.”

Then they lead Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the

Praetorium — to the imperial palace of the Roman governor. The word is

used primarily for the general’s tent in the Roman camps, and for the legal

residence of the chief of a province. Now, the ordinary residence of the

Roman governors was at Caesarea, but at the time of the great feasts they

were in the habit of going up to Jerusalem, and at a later time than this

(Josephus, ‘Bell. Jud.,’ 2:14. 8; 15:5) the governors utilized for this

purpose the former palace of Herod, a gorgeous residence in the upper

city. It is, however, more probable that Pilate occupied the palace of the

Castle of Antonia, overlooking the northwest corner of the temple area,

and having means of direct communication with it. From the high-priestly palace

to the castle they led Jesus. And it was early. [In Matthew 14:25 and Mark 13:35

πρωῖproi -  is equivalent to the fourth watch of the night, between three and

six  o’clock. The breadth of the phrase would cover the period of the hurried

council (see Matthew 27.; Mark 15.) and the session of Pilate. The Roman

judgments were often conducted in early morning (Seneca, ‘De Ira,’ 2:7)

— prima luce.] The council having in their indecent haste conveyed Jesus

to the Praetorium, while (and) they themselves went not into the

Praetorium, lest they should be defiled (μιαίνω - miaino - the solemn word

for “profane” in Plato, Sophocles, and the Septuagint). This defilement by

Entrance into the house of a Gentile was not an enactment of the Law, but

was a purely rabbinic observance (Delitzsch, ‘Talmudische Studien,’ 14. (1874);

We find it operative in Acts 10:28, and thus a hint given not merely of the

author’s knowledge of the inner life of Judaism, but of his quiet recognition of

the stupendous spectacle of malicious ritualism, and of unscrupulous antagonism

to THE HOLIEST ONE,  busying itself about attention to the letter of that which

was only a rabbinic legislation. But might eat the Passover. Here in this

passage we come once more face to face with the persistent puzzle

occasioned by the divergent intimations of John and the synoptists as to the

day of our Lord’s death. In Matthew 26:17 and Mark 14:12-14 this

very phrase is used for the preparation of that Paschal supper which our

Lord celebrated with His disciples. So that we have at any rate a discordant

verbal usage, however the problem be solved. The day is breaking, which

constitutes, according to John (prima facie), the 14th of Nisan, in the evening

of which and commencement of the 15th the Passover would be killed. According

to the synoptists, that Passover meal was already over, and the first great day of the

feast had commenced — the day of convocation, with sabbatic functions and

duties.  The statements are apparently in hopeless variance. Many emphasize,

exaggerate, and declare insoluble the contradiction, repudiating either the

authority of John or that of the synoptists. We have two methods of reconciling

the difficulty:


  • An endeavor to show that the synoptic narrative itself is inconsistent

with the idea that the night of the Passion was the night of the general



o       That the entire proceeding of the trial was inconsistent with the


o       that Simon the Cyrenian could not bear the cross on that day;

o       the circumstance that that Friday evening was the preparation of

the Passover; and

o       that the reckonings of the weeks till the Pentecost Sunday are all

made to show that the synoptic narrative itself admits that the

Crucifixion took place before the Passover meal.


So also does the decision of the priests, that they would put Jesus to death

μὴ ἐν τῆ ἑορτῆ  - mae en tae heortaenot on the feast day - (Matthew

26:5; Mark 14:2). On this understanding the passage before us is interpreted

in its natural sense; the Jews were unwilling to contract ceremonial

defilement, because they were about to eat the Passover, and so with

respect to the other references in John’s Gospel, which all, prima facto,

suggest the same chronological arrangement.


  • A very powerful argument has been constructed, however, which

brings John’s account here, as well as elsewhere, into harmony with the

supposed assertion of a synoptic narrative, that the Paschal meal preceded

the trial of Jesus. It is said by some commentators that this unwillingness to

defile themselves was because they were anticipating their midday meal, at

which sacrificial offerings and thank offerings, also called chagigah, were

regarded as “eating the Passover”(Deuteronomy 16:2-3; II Chronicles 30:22;

35:7-9). It is argued that, if the Jews were thinking of a meal which would

not come off till sundown, their fear of defilement was illusory. But

examination of these passages shows that there is a distinction drawn

between the Paschal lamb and the cattle which might form part of the

general sacrificial feasting of the following days, and that the term

“Passover” is strictly limited to the Paschal lamb. Moreover, the duration

of the defilement thus contracted would certainly have prevented them

from any participation in the slaying of the Paschal lamb “between the

evenings” of the 14th and 15th of Nisan.  Certainly John makes no reference

to the Passover in his account of the Last Supper, neither does he refer to

the institution of the Lord’s Supper.




                        Defilement, Ceremonial and Real (v. 28)


All religions recognize the twofold nature of man. As we are body and

soul, the requirements of religion respect both these parts of our being. The

heart is the spring of conduct, and actions are the manifestation of the

spiritual nature. It is obvious that an opening thus exists for hypocrisy; it is

possible that there may be the outward form where the inner reality is

lacking. Such was the case with those Jews — chiefly priests and Pharisees

whose conduct is described in the text. They felt no scruple in defiling

their conscience with the crime of shedding the blood of the innocent; but

they would on no account enter the Praetorium, where leaven might be

present in some of the rooms, lest they should be polluted, and unfitted for

taking part in the solemnities of the approaching Passover.




religions of antiquity were in no vital way connected with morality. A man

might be a very religious, and yet a very bad, man; and that without any

inconsistency. But the faith of the Hebrews was based upon revelation, and

combined belief of the truth with practice of righteousness. It was culpable

in a high degree in men who enjoyed revelation so clear and full, to be led

aside from the ways of justice at the very moment when they were carefully

observing the requirements of the ceremonial law. It is an evidence of their

depravity, and at the same time of their blunted sensibilities to what was

right and reasonable, that they should so act. How much more deserving of

condemnation are professed Christians, who, whilst scrupulously observing

the ordinances of religion and the regulations of their Churches, at the

same time are guilty of serious infractions of the moral law! Yet men are

found who keep with outward strictness the day of rest, who partake of the

holy Eucharist, and yet are not ashamed to act unjustly, to speak

slanderously, and to cherish a selfish and worldly spirit.




cases in which “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat

of rams.”   (I Samuel 15:23)  As David ate the showbread, as the disciples of Jesus

plucked the ears of corn, and Jesus Himself healed the sick on the sabbath, so men

may often be justified in transgressing the letter of a commandment in order to

keep the spirit of the law. The claims of humanity are rightly to be

preferred to the requirements of an external character, which nevertheless

have their place and their use. And good men may even frequent the

society of the vicious, the criminal, the degraded, when, by so doing, they

may make an opportunity for bringing the gospel of Christ’s love before

the minds of those to whom nothing but the gospel can bring rescue,

salvation, and eternal life. Many methods may upon this principle be

justified which would not on their own account be accepted and practiced

by the sensitive and painstaking. Salus populi suprema lex (the welfare of

the people should be the supreme law). If it is so in politics, surely in the

religious life we may well be, like the apostle, “all things to all men, if by

any means we may win some.’   (I Corinthians 9:22)


29 “Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye

against this man?”  Pilate therefore, because of their rooted national prejudice,

went out unto them beyond his court, to some open space convenient

for hearing the case. Pilate is introduced here without any preliminary

statement or title, as though the position of the man were well known to

his readers — another proof that the synoptic narrative is presupposed.

This scrupulousness contrasts with the summary proceeding of Herod

Agrippa (Acts 12:1-2), and with the conduct of the Roman authorities

(Ibid. ch.22:24). The very question he asks implies that something had

conspired to provoke a certain sympathy on his part with Jesus, and to

excite additional suspicion of the Jews. The statement of Matthew 27:19

may account for the former. The fact that he was ready to hear the

case at this early hour shows that he must have been prepared for the

scene, and even primed for it. Pilate (the manuscripts vary between

Peilatos and Pilatos) was the fifth governor of Judaea under the Romans,

and held office from A.D. 26-36. He is represented by Philo (‘Legatio ad

Caium,’ 38) as a proud, ungovernable man; and, in his conflicts with the

Jews, he had especial reason to detest their obstinate ceremonial and

religious prejudices. Philo speaks of Pilate’s “ferocious passions,” says that

he was given to fits of furious wrath, and that he had reason to fear that

complaints laid before Tiberius for “his acts of insolence, his habit of

insulting people, for his cruelty, and murders of people untried and

uncondemned, and his never-ending inhumanity,” might bring upon him the

rebuke which ultimately the emperor gave him, in consequence of his

endeavor to force from the Jews assent to his placing gilt shields in the

palace of Herod. Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 18:2. 4) gives a better account of Pilate,

and shows that a portion of his administration was not without beneficent

purpose, thwarted by the fanatical opposition of the Jews. On this occasion

he asked first of the mob of priests, What accusation do ye bring against

this Man? He may have known, probably did know, but chose to give

formality to the charge, and not simply to register their decrees.


30 “They answered and said unto him, If He were not a malefactor, we

would not have delivered Him up unto thee.  31  Then said Pilate unto them,

Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law. The Jews therefore

said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:”

They answered and said, if He were not a malefactor, we should not have

delivered Him up to thee. This was somewhat audacious. It was as much as

to say, “We have judged, you have only to register our decisions. We are not

bound to go through our evidence before you.” If it had been so, the deprivation

of the jus gladii, the power of capital execution would have mattered little to

them. Pilate, in scorn and irony, replies, “If that be so, why have ye brought Him

to me? If you are unwilling to comply with the terms of Roman jurisprudence,

then it must be some case which you can dispose of according to your own rules.”

Take ye Him yourselves, and according to your Law judge Him. Pilate

saw their animus, and that they were thirsting for the blood of Jesus, and

wished at once to flout them and make them confess their impotence and

admit his suzerainty. For them to judge (κρίνεινkrinein) was not equivalent to

put to death (ἀποκτεῖμαιapokteinai – to kill), and Pilate clearly suggested that

much. The Jews [therefore] said to him, It is not lawful (οὐκ ἔξεστιouk exesti

not lawful; not allowed) to us to put any man to death. This was perfectly true,

notwithstanding the tumultuary and violent acts and threats, and incipient stonings

of Jesus, to which the Gospel refers (ch. ; 7:25; 8:3,59). Other interpretations of

this exclamation have been supplied, viz. “to execute criminals of state”, “to do so

on feast-days”; but the power had been formally taken from even the supreme court,

forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem. The instance of the massacre of

James the Just, occurring between the departure of one Roman governor and the

arrival of another, is mentioned by Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 20:9. 1) as a distinct

infringement and violation of law. The stoning of Stephen in a wild tumult,

and the proceedings of Herod Agrippa, are rather confirmations than

violations of the rule. Thus the malign disposition and distinct purpose of

the Jews were revealed. They would not have brought Jesus at all before

the Roman governor, nor admitted his claim to decide any case involving

religious ideas and practices, if they had not fully decided that Jesus must

die. But John sees a deeper reason still.


32 “That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which He spake,

signifying what death He should die.”  Thus the very political order of the

world, the whole process by which Judaea became a Roman province, was part

of the wondrous plan by which Jew and Gentile should together offer up the

awful sacrifice, and all the world be guilty of the death of its Lord. The manner of

the death had been foretold by our Lord. In ch.3:14 He spoke of being lifted up

(ὑψωθήαι)hupsothaenai – be lifted up; to be exalted), in ch. 8:28 He charged

the Jews with the intention of so lifting Him up to die (ὅταν ὑψώσητεhotan

hupsosaete – whenever ye have lifted up; whenever ye should be exalting), implying

a method of capital punishment which was contrary to their ordinary habits; and in

ch. 12:32 He declared that this lifting up of the Son of man would create part

of His sacred and Divine attraction to the human race. In the synoptists He

is said to have repeatedly spoken of His σταυρός  - stauros – cross (Luke 14:27;

Mark 8:34; Matthew 10:38; 16:24); but in Matthew 20:19 He had clearly predicted

His crucifixion by the Gentiles (compare Luke 9:22-23). The manner or kind of

death was full of significance; it provided opportunity for the royal demission of

His own life (ch.10:18); it gave conditions for much of the sublime self-manifestation

of the closing hours; it has proved, notwithstanding all the shame and curse of the

proceeding, eminently symbolic of the compassion with which He embraced the

human race in all its defilement and all the variety of its need. We are not surprised

to find that the evangelist saw, in the complicated relations of Jewish and Roman

authority, a divinely ordered arrangement, and a clearly foreseen and

predicted consummation. Luke 23:2 shows that the charge brought

against Jesus was made to receive a coloring likely to prejudice the Roman

governor against Him: “We found this Man perverting our nation, and

forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a

King.” The uproar and the false and malicious charge would be more likely

than any other to move Pilate against Him; and thus the synoptic narrative,

being presupposed, gives an explanation of the first question which John,

as well as the synoptists, represents Pilate as first of all pressing upon the

Divine Sufferer. Without Luke’s statement, Pilate’s question is abrupt and

inexplicable; but it must be admitted that there is in John’s narrative no

direct hint of Luke’s addition; and Christ’s counter-question to the inquiry

of Pilate (which last is given in the same form by all four evangelists)

implies that he had not overheard the false charge which the Jews had

brought into the court. The Lord was within the Praetorium. Pilate and the

Jews were on the open, external space, where the altercation proceeded.

We may also observe that nothing could appear more anomalous to Pilate

than that these bigoted and rebellious priests, who perpetually resisted the

claims of Roman governors to enforce tribute, should now hypocritically pretend

that a prophet-leader of their own had been guilty of such a charge. Instead of

resisting, the Pharisees would have fostered a demagogue who had taken such a

disloyal part. Pilate would at once have suspected that there was something

ominous in the very charge itself, when tumultuously pressed by a party who

were accustomed to regard such proceedings as patriotic; and he saw with

shrewdness that the Jews had merely cloaked their real antagonism by

presenting an incrimination which, under ordinary circumstances, they

would have treated as a crowning virtue.


 In vs. 33-38, the scene is the Praetorium where Christ admits that He

was a King, but that His kingdom was not of this world.


33 “Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus,

and said unto Him, Art thou the King of the Jews?”  Pilate therefore entered

again  into the Praetorium, out of direct hearing of the vociferous crowd, where 

Jesus and John himself had remained under supervision of the officers of the

court, and called — summoned Jesus to his side, and said to Him that of which

the mob outside formed an imperfect idea. The account of John throws much

light on the inference which Pilate drew from the reply of Jesus, as given in

v. 38 and in Luke 23:4. To the loud accusations and bitter charges of

“the chief priests and elders” (Matthew 27:11-12; Mark 15:3-4)

brought in the presence of Pilate, Christ answered nothing. His solemn and

accusing silence caused the governor to marvel greatly (see both

Matthew 27:14 and Mark 15:5). He marveled not only at the

silence of the Lord, but at that silence after he, Pilate, had received from

Him so explicit a statement as to the nature of His own kingdom. An

explanation of the motive of Pilate, and of his entire manner upon this

occasion, is to be found in the private interview between our Lord and the

Roman governor within the Praetorium. It is unnecessary (with many) to

see in Pilate an “almost persuaded” believer in the claims of Jesus, who yet

was warring with his better judgment, and apostatizing from a nascent

faith. He appears rather as the Roman man of the world, who has never

learned to rule his policy by any notions of righteousness and truth, and is

utterly unable to appreciate the spiritual claims of this Nazarene; yet he was

shrewd enough to see that, so far as Roman authority was concerned, this

Prisoner was utterly harmless. His question was, Art thou the King of the

Jews? Of course, he expected at first a negative reply. Should this abused

and rejected, this bound and bleeding Sufferer, with no apparent followers

around Him, actually betrayed by one of His intimate friends, deserted by

the rest, and hounded to death by the fierce cries of Pharisee and

Sadducee, chief priest and elder, answer in the affirmative, it might easily

suggest itself to Pilate that He must be under some futile hallucination. It

has been said that the question might have been answered right off in the

affirmative or in the negative, according as the term “King of the Jews”

was understood. If what Pilate meant was a popular titular leader,

imperator of Jewish levies, one prepared for the career of Judas of Galilee,

or Herod the Idumaean, or for that of Barchochab in after times, —

nothing could seem to be less likely or more patently repudiated by the

facts; moreover, from our Lord Himself, who had always refused a quasi-royal

dignity (ch.6:15), it would have required an emphatic negative.

Pilate knew no other way of interpreting the phrase. If the term meant the

true “King of Israel,” the Messiah anticipated by prophecy and psalm, the

King of all kings and Lord of lords, the Ruler of hearts, who would draw

all men to Him, and cast out and vanquish the prince of this world, then the

“crown” was His, and He could not deny it; but before this assertion was

made in the hearing of the multitude, our Lord would draw from Pilate the

sense in which he used the words. He does not say to him, Σὺ λέγεις

Su legeis - Thou sayest —a reply given verbatim by all the synoptists, and

referring to a second demand made in the presence of the multitude — but

He put a counter-question.


34  Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others

tell it thee of me?”  Sayest thou this thing, askest thou this question, from

thyself? — from thy knowledge of the hopes kindled by the ancient books,

or from comparing my words with my appearance, or from any judgments

thou hast formed a priori?  Thus Jesus was not so much informing Pilate of the

distinction between the two kingships, as claiming qua Prisoner at the bar the

source of the accusation. “Have I put forth any claim of this kind, which

thou as the chief magistrate of this Roman province hast any legal cognizance of?”

It was not an appeal to the man rather than to the governor, to the conscience of

Pilate rather than to the forms of the tribunal; but, with the intrepid consciousness

of perfect innocence of the political crime, our Lord asks for the formal declaration

of the charge brought against Him. Or did others tell it thee concerning

me?  It seems like Christ was discriminating between the theocratic and the political

use of the great phrase. It is obvious that He did rise from the latter to the former

in the following verses, but it is difficult to find the distinction in this

alternative question. “Did others (not thine own police or observation) —

did the Jews, in fact, bring thee this charge against me? Nay, did they not?

Is it not entirely due to this outbreak of hostility to my teaching that they

have chosen thus to impeach me before thee — to deliver me to thee?”

Therefore, first of all, Christ repudiated the charge, in the only sense in

which it could have conveyed any colorable idea to the mind of Pilate.


35 “Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief

priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?”

Pilate answered, with the proud and haughty tone of a Roman

military judge or procurator, Am I a Jew? The ἐγώ – ego – I -

 is very emphatic, and the force of the question requires a negative. You know

that it would be insult to me to make such a supposition. The nation that is

thine, not mine, and the chief priests, delivered thee to me. An unequivocal

statement that he had no reason of his own to assume that Jesus was a

political aspirant. Whatever inner reasons these Jews had to malign Jesus

and confuse Pilate’s mind with the ambiguity of the title, the governor is

innocent as yet of any such theocratic or religious meaning in the charge.

More than this, the humiliation of the Divine Lord of men, the King of

Israel, is grievously aggravated by the very use of the word. “Thy own

nation has delivered thee up, has betrayed thee to me.” The crime of Judas

has been adopted by the religious authorities and the patriotic leaders of

the people. “He came unto His own, and his own people received Him not.”

(ch. 1:11).  Christ frequently anticipated this result of His ministry; and He

regarded it as the climax of His indignity (see especially Luke 9:44; and

compare the language of Peter, Acts 3:13), that the anointed King should by

His own people be “delivered” up to lawless Gentile hands to be crucified and

slain. Pilate assures Him that, if He is now in His hands, the cause of it is

simply that His own people had utterly repudiated His claims, whatever they

may have been. What didst thou do to transform into thy bitter enemies

those who would naturally condone or favor any such claim as that of

being a seditious rival to the Roman Caesar?


36 “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom

were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not

be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

In reply to this challenge, Jesus answered — obviously

assuming the fact that He was a king in a sense entirely different from that

which had been maliciously suggested to Pilate — My kingdom — the

kingdom that is mine — is not of this world. Neither now nor at any

future period will it derive its origin from this world. So far as Christ is

King, His royal power and state are not furnished by earthly force, or

fleshly ordinances, or physical energies, or material wealth, or imperial

armies. The dominion that He will wield will be one over hearts and lives;

the authority of the Lord Jesus cannot be arrested or overpowered by

physical force. Most commentators justly regard this as a spiritual

manifesto of the sources and quality of the kingdom of Christ, and a

foreshadowing of the separation between the spiritual and secular power

— a declaration that all effort to embody Christian laws and government in

compulsory forms, and to defend them by penal sanctions and temporal

force, is disloyalty to the royal rank and crown rights of the Lord Jesus

Christ. Hengstenberg regards the assertion as precisely the reverse; sees in

the passage, “rightly understood, the very opposite purpose. The kingdom

that sprang directly from heaven must have absolute authority over all the

earth, and it will not submit to be put into obscurity. The kingdoms of this

world must become the kingdom of the Lord and his Anointed, and He shall

reign for ever and ever.” This is true, but not along the lines or with the

machinery of earthly rule and authority. The influence and authority of

Heaven works upon the spirit by truth and righteousness and peace, and

thus transforms institutions, permeates society from the ground of the

heart, modifies the relations between the members of a household, and

transfigures those between a ruler and his subjects, between the master and

his slaves, between labor and capital, and between man and man. Whenever

it is triumphant, whenever the lives of kings and their peoples are sanctified

by supreme obedience to Christ the King, then war will be impossible, all

tyrannies and slaveries will be abolished, all malice and violence of

monarchs or mobs will be at an end; then the wolfish and the lamblike

nature will be at peace. Then all the means for enforcing the will of one

against another will be done away. He will have put down all rule,

authority, and power; for He must reign, and He alone.  (I Corinthians

15:24-28).  This kingdom is not (ἐκ ek from; out of) this world’s methods

or resources; does not begin  from without and establish itself, or propagate or

preserve itself, from the world, which is a rival, and is not to be coerced but

drawn to itself. Like the individual disciple, the kingdom may be in the world,

but not of it. Christ proceeded, If the kingdom that is mine were from this world,

which it is not (mark the form of the condition), then, on that supposition,

would the servants (ὑπηρέται hupaeretai  generally translated officers) that

are mine fight, with physical force, in order that I should not be delivered

up (παροδοθῶ parodothoI may be being given up) to the Jews. The

supposition that the ὑπηρέται of whom our Lord spoke were “the angels”

is distinctly repudiated by the ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου - ek tou kosmou toutou -  

of this present world. If it were the  case, as it is not, then would my officers be,

not a handful of disciples (whom He generally calls διάκονοι δοῦλοι diakonoi,

douloiministers; servants),  but the servants who would be appropriate to

my royal mission, — then would my servants be busily fighting that I

should not be delivered up by the Roman power that is for the moment

thrown over me like a shield, to the Jews, who are thirsting for my blood.

The loud cry of hatred and vengeance may even at this moment have

pierced the interior of the Praetorium, thus giving its force, if not form, to

the sentence. Godet thinks our Lord was referring to the crowds who

actually gathered round him on Palm Sunday, and not to hypothetical

ὑπηρέται; but the force of the condition goes down deeper, and,

moreover, such language might have awakened the suspicion that, after all,

Jesus had a political following, if he should choose to evoke it. Observe

that this entire severance between “the Jews” and the friends of Christ,

which, though occasionally adopted by the evangelist, is not the customary

method of our Lord. The moment at which the Savior speaks gives great

significance to the phraseology (observe ch.4:22; 13:33; v.20 here; the

only other occasions on which the Lord used this phrase to denote His own

people). But now (the νῦν – nun - now) compare ch.9:41 and 15:22, is logical,

not temporal); i.e. But seeing that it is so — my kingdom, He adds, is not from

hence.  The ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου  (out of the worlds equivalent to ἐντεῦθεν

enteuthenhence - and suggests that the kingdom derives its resources and its

energies “from the upper world, from above.”



The Unworldly Kingdom (v. 36)


It is not always possible to return a direct answer to a question. When

Pilate asked our Lord Jesus, “Art thou a King?” the reply could not have

been either “Yes” or “No” without misleading the questioner. In a sense He

was not a king, — that is, He made no claim to an earthly, temporal

sovereignty; in another sense He was a King, — a spiritual Sovereign,

although his kingdom was not of this world. Thus the question of the

Roman governor was the occasion of the utterance of a great truth, a great

principle, distinctive of the religion and Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.




governments do not admit of the imperium in imperio. The same subject

cannot owe allegiance to two lords. The same land cannot admit the

promulgation of different codes of law. Oppression, confusion, rebellion,

anarchy, would be the result of such an attempt. But the kingdom of the

Lord Jesus can exist and flourish in the most diverse forms of secular

government. The subjects of a despotic monarchy, and the citizens of a

democratic republic, are alike capable of acknowledging the supremacy and

obeying the commands of King Jesus. So far from destroying or imperiling

a state, Christianity, when it takes possession of a people, tends to establish

a state in:


Ø      righteousness,

Ø       freedom, and

Ø      peace.


The ruler and the governed may alike confess the sway and honor the authority

of the Lord and King of men.



AND THE APPEARANCE OF ITS MONARCH. Earthly kings are always

imperfect in character, and sometimes unjust, malevolent, vain, and selfish;

yet they may maintain the outward semblance of dignity, wealth,

magnificence, and power. The Lord Christ, on the contrary, had no earthly

rank, or splendor, no gorgeous palace, no imposing retinue. He was in

outward guise lowly and obscure, and He was by men scoffed at and

despised. Yet He was and is the Holy One and Just, the faultless and

benevolent Ruler of men, the Lord of heaven, the Judge of all. How

wonderful and sublime a contrast to the kings of this world is the meek

Monarch, the scepter of whose kingdom is a right scepter!  (Psalm

45:6; Hebrews 1:8)




not spring up in a human mind. “Now,” said Jesus, “is my kingdom not

from hence.” Designated “the kingdom of heaven” and “the kingdom of

God,” it is, in its ground and in its character, what such designations

involve. It is to the Divine wisdom and love that this unworldly kingdom

must be traced. Christ is King by inheritance, as Son of God; by conquest,

as the redeeming Lord; by choice and election, being welcomed by the

joyful acclamations of His loyal subjects. In all these respects our Savior’s

title to the throne is very different from the titles put forward by the kings

of this earth.



ITS DOMINION OVER ITS SUBJECTS. The subjects of an earthly

monarch are usually born beneath the sway of their liege lord. In any case

their obedience and submission, their aid and support, are required, and the

requirement is, if necessary, enforced by penalties. The sway of the king is

over the outward actions, the speech and habits of the subjects. Very

different is the case with the members of that spiritual state of which Jesus

is the sovereign Ruler. They are all citizens of the commonwealth and

subjects of the King in virtue of personal faith and voluntary submission.

Christ reigns in the heart; he has no care for the mere homage of the lips,

the mere prostration of the body. His is a spiritual empire.



AND THE MEANS IT EMPLOYS. Whilst earthly sovereignties aim at the

outward order and prosperity of the community, at peace and wealth, at

conquest and glory, at power and fame, and whilst they employ secular

means towards these ends Christ’s kingdom contemplates purely moral

ends — the growth and prevalence of righteousness and holiness, patience

and love; in a word, those spiritual characteristics which are distinctive of

every divinely ordered society, and by means in harmony with such ends.

No fear or constraint, no magistrates, officers, soldiers, prisons, does

Christ employ. He disclaims force; “else,” said He, “would my servants


AND REVEALED  truth which calls for faith, and the support of

intelligence and loyalty. The laws of the spiritual kingdom are not

prohibitions; they take the form of examples, and are sustained by the

sanction of Divine love.



PERPETUITY. Whilst no earthly conqueror has been suffered by Divine

providence to achieve a universal dominion, Christ shall “reign from sea to

sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth”  (Zechariah 9:10).

Whilst all human governments are liable to decay, and the Roman empire

itself passed into a decline which issued in its fall (I saw on TV within

the last two weeks a secular discussion on the comparison of Rome’s

Fall and what is currently happening in the United States – CY – January

16, 2014), Christ’s “kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion

endureth to all generations.”  (Psalm 145:13)


37 “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus

answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born,

and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness

unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”

Pilate therefore said to him, Art thou a King then? The

precise meaning of this exclamation depends on the accentuation of

ουκουν - oukounnot then - whether it be οὐκοῦν equivalent to igitur,

“therefore:” “Therefore on your own showing you are a King!” or whether

οὔκουν  be the form; then it would have the force of nonne igitur? expecting

an affirmative response. It is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον  (one time use) in the

New Testament, but it generally implies an inference and a question expecting

agreement with the questioner. Here Pilate flashes out with haughty rebuke.

He had satisfied himself that Jesus was no political rival; hut, in wonderment and

scorn, he would sound a little deeper the mystery of the kingly claim. It is

 not a judicial inquiry, but a burst of ironical surprise: So then, after all,

thou art a King, even then? wavering between positive and negative reply.

Jesus answered, Thou sayest it, that I am a King. This mode of affirmation

is not found in classical Greek or the Septuagint, but occurs in the New Testament,

and in the synoptists also it is given as the great answer of Jesus. Some have

translated the ὅτι hoti – that - as “for” or “because,” and added “well” and

rightly to the λέγειςlegeissayest -  Thus: Thou  sayest well, for I am a

King. Hengstenberg and Lampe separate this declaration from what follows,

which they interpret exclusively of the prophetic office of Jesus: but the

εἰς τοῦτο  eis touto – into this -  points backwards as well as

forwards, and our Lord accepts that which He proceeds to explain as His

royal functions. Westcott, however, says that Jesus neither accepts nor

rejects the title of King, but simply reiterates Pilate’s words, “Thou sayest

that I am a King; I will proceed to explain what I mean by my royal

mission.” Seeing, however, that our Lord had already implicitly avowed his

kingly state, it is far better to discern in the reply an acknowledgment of

the inference which Pilate had scornfully drawn (see parallel method of

answering the question, “Art thou the Son of God?” Luke 22:70, “Ye

say that I am;” . ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι  - hoti ego eimithat I am - compared with

Mark 14:62). This is the “good confession” to which Paul referred (I Timothy

6:13). This is the assumption, before the tribunal of the whole world, THAT


have I been born Γεγέννημαι Gegennaemai – have been born -  is an

important admission of His true humanity.  And to this end have I come into

the world. These words are not tautological. In the first clause He asserts His

birth as a man, in the second He refers to the state of being which preceded

His incarnation (compare here ch.16:28, note), out of which He came, and to

which He is now returning. The being “born” of woman (Galatians 4:4) is one

fact, the “coming into this world” is another which He makes antithetical to His

return to the Father. ἘλήλυθαElaelutha – I have come - present perfect, being

used instead of ἤλθονaelthon  and implies that His “coming is permanent in its

effects, and not simply a past historic fact”. In order that I might bear witness

unto the truth. This is His supreme claim. There is an absolute reality. God’s

way of thinking about things is the closest approximation we can make to the

concept of “truth per se.” In this is comprehended all the reality of the Divine

nature and character; all that the eternal God thinks concerning man and the

laws which have been given him, and concerning the failure of man to realize

God’s idea of what he ought to have been; all the absolute fact, just as it really

is, of man’s peril and his prospects, the actual relations between body and spirit,

between the individual and the community; all man’s positive need of redemption;

all the deep mystery of Christ’s own Person and work. These constitute the

mighty realm of things, beings, duties, and prospects, which we call TRUTH.

Jesus said He had been born and had come into the world in order to BEAR

WITNESS TO THE TRUTH.  From John the Baptist’s standpoint, that prophet

Bore witness concerning the light (John 1:7-8), and, according to the range

of his vision, he too (ch.5:33) bore “witness to the truth” (i.e. so far

as he knew it) of the Christ. Our Lord now solemnly declares that He

Himself came to bear witness to THE TRUTH in all its amplitude.

The next clause shows that our Lord is actually defining

by this claim the extent of the kingdom that is “not from hence” or from

this world as its origin. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

To “hear the voice” is to obey as a supreme authority (ch.10:8, 16, 27), and

the phrase shows how widely the thought ranges. Every mind open to the

influence of truth, every one who is set against the unrealities

of mere opinion or tradition, who derives life and joy from the realm of

reality, every one who therefore knows how different he might be, how

much he needs, who is “of God,” as the Source and Beginning and Ground

of all things. Compare here the remarkable parallel to this sentiment,

ch. 8:47; and also the words of the high-priestly prayer, “All thine are mine,

and mine are thine (ch. 17:10), and “Those whom thou hast given me are

 thine (Ibid v.9);   thine they were, and thou gavest them me.”  (Ibid. v. 6).

The same large embrace of human souls is conspicuous here, Every one that

is of the truth heareth the voice of Christ, and will accept His authority as

final and supreme. The sublime witness to the truth which He had been bearing,

in this manifestation of the Name of the Father, would make the voice of Jesus

the imperial and august authority for all who felt how much they needed truth.

The Sanhedrists said that “truth is the seal of God,” and they played upon the

word tma or “truth,” by making it equivalent to the first and middle and last

of all things, seeing that a m t, are the first, middle, and last of the letters of

the alphabet.



The King of the Jews (v. 37)


It is the peculiarity of some people that a plain “Yes” and “No” can hardly

ever be got out of them. After all, however, it is only an irritating

peculiarity, not a dangerous one. The real danger is when people say “Yes”

and “No” too easily, too thoughtlessly. Here is the question of Pilate to

Jesus,” Art thou the King of the Jews?” What at first sight could look

simpler and easier to answer? Yet it was not simple and easy. Thus we

have to consider:



the question was simple enough. He meant, of course, a king in the

ordinary acceptation of the term. If Jesus had said “No” to this question,

the answer would have been right enough, but it would only have led on to

other questions, without any real result to the interests of truth. Jesus

evidently did not wish to talk much at this season. The time for teaching

was past; the time for submission and suffering had now fully come. Still,

whatever Jesus had to say must be significant, and mere “Yes” or “No” to

ignorant human questionings would have told nothing. Hence, without

saying He was a king, Jesus talks about His kingdom and its principles of

defense, which, of course, were equally its principles of attack.


  • Thus we see Jesus answering the question by showing THE




Ø      The elements of His power. He looks a lonely man before the

representatives of the greatest power in the then world. Whatever

could be done by force of numbers and discipline, Rome could do.

But quantity of a lower kind can do nothing against quality of a

higher kind. Jesus is not concerned to maintain the integrity of a

fleshly body, though even that He could have done if needful.

It was the integrity of the inner life Jesus had to maintain against

temptation. Jesus had His own personal battle to fight and

victory to win, before He could lead men in their greatest battle

and most decisive victory. The risen Savior is the Man Christ

Jesus made fully manifest in His abiding SINLESSNESS!

If Pilate will only wait a little while, and open his mind to the

truth, he will see by deeds that Jesus is a King. Not what a

man says, but what he does, proves his claim.


Ø      The method of His progress. Jesus wants us to get above the

ideas of mere conflict and victory and overcoming of opposition.

What He desires is the free, joyous, and entire submission of the

individual, because of the truth which is made clear to him in

Jesus. Jesus is the only one who can distinguish reality from

appearance, truth from falsehood, and the abiding from the

perishing. Jesus, as He says, came into the world. The world was

ever in His thoughts, for the world’s good. He no more belonged

to the land he happened to live in than the sun belongs to that

particular part of the earth where it happens to be shining. The sun

belongs to the whole world, AND SO DOES JESUS!  . The sun

belongs to every age, AND SO DOES JESUS!  He came into the

world TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE TRUTH  and wherever

there is a soul wrapped in delusion and falsehood, MISTAKING


 Jesus is there TO TELL THE TRUTH,  the whole truth, and

nothing but the truth.


38 “Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he

went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in Him no

fault at all.”  Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth? The aphorism of Lord

Bacon, “‘What is truth?’ said jesting Pilate, and did not wait for an

answer,” scarcely represents the reality of the case. Pilate was not

scornfully jesting with a metaphysical problem, nor professing himself

hopelessly baffled in search for it. The language was not the utterance of

irrepressible homage to his mysterious Prisoner, or heartfelt sympathy with

Him. For on this supposition why did he not wait for some more words of

strange unearthly wisdom? Nor does he go so far in his skepticism as Pliny

the Eider did when he said, “that there is only one thing certain, viz. that

there is nothing certain;” but as a man of the world having to do with

Roman authority or intrigue and Jewish fanaticism, Pilate despised

earnestness and zeal, and was utterly unable to believe in the existence of a

world or region where any higher reality than force prevailed. But the

governor was now, with his narrow range of thought, strongly convinced

that Jesus was utterly innocent of the charge brought against Him. The

unanswered question is equivalent to this — What has truth to do with

kingship? What has the vague shadowy region over which this poor king

reigns to do with plots against Caesar? He saw enough to induce him to

break off the interview within the Praetorium, and he proceeded, though

vainly, to deliver a verdict on the case. When he had said this, he went

out to the Jews, and said, I find no crime in Him. Here, however, must

be introduced the scenes described by Matthew, Mark, and especially by

Luke — scenes of loud and angry dispute and renewed and fierce

accusation (Matthew 27:12-14; Mark 15:3-5; Luke 23. 4-12). In all

three accounts, after the admission that He was King of the Jews, the loud,

fierce accusations followed in which our Lord, notwithstanding the

repeated summons of Pilate, “answered nothing.” At this the governor

marveled greatly (Matthew and Mark). It is not impossible that the first

question which Pilate put to him within the Praetorium was renewed and

laconically answered with the Σὺ λέγεις (Thou sayest) is before I but

all the wild roar of the chief priests and people could extract nothing more.

This silence in face of the accusation of the mob astonished Pilate, and made

him more than ever convinced of the innocence of his Prisoner.  This interview

with Pilate throws on the synoptic narrative; that, in fact, Pilate’s whole

conduct is only explicable on the supposition that he had received cogent

 reasons to disarm all political mistrust.  It is of great interest to compare

this confession before Pilate with the corresponding confession before

the high priest (Matthew 26:64). The one addressed to the Jews is in the

language of prophecy, the other addressed to a Roman appeals to the

verdict of universal conscience. The one speaks of a future manifestation

of glory, the other of a present manifestation of truth.”





                                    No Crime in Christ (v. 38)


Pilate’s language and conduct furnish us with an example of the way in

which weak and unprincipled men are wont to allow themselves to be

guided by the expected consequences of their actions, instead of referring

those actions to principles and laws by which they might decide what is the

right course to follow. Often, as in the case of Pilate, where the results of

actions are more regarded than their standards, men’s convictions lead in

one direction, whilst their practical conduct follows another and inferior






1. With reference to the governor himself who thus spoke, we infer from

this language his judicial impartiality. Accustomed to such examinations

as that he was now conducting, he saw at once through the motives of the

accusers, and recognized the absurdity of their charges and the innocence

of the Accused. This was to the credit of his intelligence; but his clear

perception of the merits of the case makes his guilt the greater in yielding

to the malice of the priests and the passion of the populace.


2. This language testifies to the sinful and malicious conduct of Christ’s

enemies. Pilate was ready enough to see matters as they were seen by the

influential class among the Jews. But the case was so flagrant a case of

groundless hatred and false accusation, that it was impossible that Pilate

should be blinded to the truth. What the governor said was literally true —

there was no crime in Jesus.


3. We are justified in accepting this witness to the character of our Lord.

As Christians we believe, indeed, far more than the Savior’s innocence of

the crime of civil insurrection. But we are at liberty to take this evidence,

and to require its acceptance by all students of Christ’s character and

claims. If the historical inquirer will go no further, we may justly expect

him to grant that the charge upon which our Lord was put to death was a

charge utterly groundless.





1. It harmonizes with the declarations of Scripture concerning the

blamelessness and sinlessness of Jesus.


2. It suggests the inquiry why one so blameless should endure such

undeserved ignominy and suffering. It is plain from the narrative that Jesus

might have avoided what, as a matter of fact, He consented to undergo.

There was a reason for this — a reason to be found in the Divine purposes

regarding the salvation of sinful men.  (Agreed upon before the world

began - Revelation 5:6; 13:8)  His qualifications are such as fit Him

for His mighty and merciful office, as THE SINLESS SAVIOUR





“What is Truth?”  (v. 38)


When the Lord Jesus, in explanation of His claim to kingship, declared

Himself a Witness to “the truth,” the turn to the conversation between Him

and the Roman governor was to all appearance very abrupt. Government,

royalty, — these were ideas with which Pilate was familiar, in which his

position bound him to take interest. With regard to truth, he might or be

might not concern himself. In any case it would scarcely occur to him that

there was any special connection between kingship and that witness to the

truth which the accused One professed that it was His mission to bear.

Whether Pilate asked the question from mere curiosity, from real interest,

in ridicule, or in cynical unbelief, we cannot confidently say. The possibility

that any one of these motives may have influenced him suggests the various

attitudes of mind with which THE TRUTH OF GOD is regarded by men.




HAVE FOUND IT. The disbelief of Christianity as a Divine and

authoritative religion is no new thing. Infidelity has existed from the

earliest ages of Christianity down to the present time. It has taken different

forms. Atheism, agnosticism, deism, rationalism, mysticism, differ in what

they affirm, but they largely agree in what they deny. The chief offence

taken with our religion is because of its supernatural claim, because, by

affirming Jesus to be the Son of God and to have risen from the dead, it

affirms the being of a God deeply interested in man’s true welfare, and

interposing in order to secure it. That there is some solid basis for the

Christian faith and for the Christian Church, only the most ignorant deny.

With regard to the historical facts which accounted for Christianity as a

human system, there is among unbelievers difference of opinion. But when

the Christian teacher or preacher declares, as he is bound to do, that the

Scriptures reveal “the truth” concerning the character and purposes of

God, and concerning the nature and prospects of man, then all the hostility

of the opponent of religion, of the man who believes in food and clothing,

in science and art, and in nothing beyond, is aroused within him; and with

all the scorn of incredulity in his tones he asks, assured that there is no

answer to be given, “What is truth?”




of the believer is the infidel, who disbelieves. Between the two stands the

skeptic, whose attitude is one of:


Ø      doubt,

Ø      examination, and

Ø      indecision.


This is a stage of thought through which most educated and thoughtful persons

pass — some to faith and some to disbelief, whilst there are those who linger

 in this state throughout the rest of life. Christianity is no foe to candid inquiry;

it bids us “prove all things” (I Thessalonians 5:21); any other principle would

keep heathens, heathens, and Mohammedans, Mohammedans, all through life.

What is to be avoided and blamed is the settled, contented acquiescence in

doubt, which tends to no conclusion of belief, no definite action. Now, whilst

there are topics upon which we are not bound to have an opinion — topics

beyond our faculties, or remote from our interests — it must be maintained

that religion is of importance so vital, that if truth with regard to it can

possibly be attained, it must earnestly be sought. Permanent skepticism is

either a sign of the weakest intellect, or it is a confession that the problem

of greatest interest to us is a problem we can never solve.



SINCERE AND PRAYERFUL INTEREST. There is no question which

affords to the Christian teacher and preacher greater pleasure, when

propounded with intelligence and candor, than this. It evinces a mind alive

to the great purposes and the great possibilities of life. And further, there is

the assurance that the seeker shall be the finder of truth. (Jesus said, “Ask,

and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be

opened unto you:  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that

seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”  - Matthew

7:7-8)  In many of their enterprises the fervent, the inquisitive, the avaricious,

the ambitions, are doomed to fail. But there is a price with which truth may

be bought; and the promise holds good, “He that seeketh findeth.” Truth

must indeed be sought in a right method and in a right spirit; so sought,





SATISFYING. Belief in Christian truth is reasonable, based as it is upon

evidence and testimony, upon the highest and most unquestionable

authority, and upon the congruity between Christianity and the innate

needs of man’s understanding, conscience, and heart. (My son-in-law

recently asked me “What is faith?” and I replied “Common Sense.”

CY – 2014)  Belief, as an intellectual assent, is necessary to true religion;

but it is in itself insufficient. To believe the gospel is to put faith in Him

who is Himself the Gospel, and faith in Christ is faith in God. Christ has

said, “I am the Truth”  (ch. 14:6); they, then, who find Him, find revealed

in Him the mind, the very heart of God. The truth is to the Christian the

favor and the fellowship of the Eternal, the law of life, the satisfaction of the

whole nature. Very different are the Christian’s convictions from many which

are held tenaciously by the “men of this world;” for they are convictions which

shall never be distrusted and abandoned; they shall outlast the perishable fabrics

reared by human ingenuity and human imagination.


In the last two verses 39-40,  the Roman trial continued without the Praetorium,

where Pilate declared Christ innocent, and made another effort to save Him.


39 “But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the

passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the

Jews?   The Barabbas-proposal. Before the scene which John here introduces

with a but — as though it followed immediately upon the utterance of a

verdict of acquittal — Luke tells us that casual reference was made to the

circumstance that Jesus was a Galilaean, and was in Herod’s jurisdiction.

Eager to quit himself’ of a troublesome presence and business, Pilate caught

at the expedient of sending Jesus at once to the court of Herod (Luke 23:6-12).

This issuing in no result except in fresh and hideous mockery of THE KING

OF KINGS and in a renewed protestation of His innocence and harmlessness, so

far as the Roman Pilate or the Herodian tetrarch could discover, Pilate

offered to scourge the Son of God, and release Him. The utter meanness

and cowardice of his offer to add ignominious pain and insult to the brutal

mockeries of Herod and his soldiers, brands Pilate with eternal shame. As

soon as the word “release” broke upon their ears, there was a reminder

from the people that Pilate should follow at the feast the custom for some

time in vogue, of releasing a prisoner. Now, there was a notorious criminal,

who had stirred up a bloody insurrection in the city, one which had resulted

in murder. He may have been popular among the vehement anti-imperial

party for some seditious proceedings against constituted authorities; he

may, in fact, really have been guilty of the very charge brought wickedly

against the holy Jesus. This is only conjecture. But there he stood —

Barabbas, and, according to some manuscripts, “Jesus” also by name, “Son

of the Father,” but a violent man, a λῃστήςlaestaes – robber - stained with

crime, whether he were a Gaulonite or not. The notion of releasing Barabbas, in

accordance with a time honored custom, did, according to Luke, originate first

of all with some of the people; and this apparent difference between the synoptic

narrative and John’s is represented and referred to in this Gospel by the

introduction of a πάλινpalin – again -  (v. 40). For although John does not

mention the first attempt to secure the safety of Barabbas, he implied that the

infernal shout, “Not this Man, but Barabbas!” had already burst upon his ears,

and was repeated so soon as Pilate had exclaimed, as John briefly reports, Ye

have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover (or,

κατὰ δὲ ἑορτήνkata de heortaen  - now at that feast - Mark 15:6).

We know nothing of the origin of this “custom,” nor is it elsewhere referred to.

The two classes into which critics are divided about the “day of our Lord’s death,”

here take opposite views as to the meaning of the phrase, ἐν τῷ πάσχα

 en to pascha – in the Passover. The one class press the fact

that the Paschal meal must be over, and that this must have been the first

 day of unleavened bread, in order to justify this expression; the other critics

urge that since the feast had not commenced, Pilate was prepared to grant

release in time for Barabbas to take his place with his friends in all the

national ceremonies. The phrase is so indefinite that it may most certainly

belong to both the 14th and 15th days of Nisan, and no conclusive argument

can, from its use, be drawn in favor of either day. Will ye therefore that I

release unto you the King of the Jews?


40  Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now

Barabbas was a robber.”  Possibly Pilate wished to find out whether

among the ὄχλος ochlos – crowd; multitude - there were any sympathizers

with Jesus, who might be gratified at the expense of the hated priests; for he

“knew that by reason of  envy they had delivered up Jesus to him” (Matthew

27:18).  He wished to set the multitude and the priesthood at variance, and to

save Jesus through their mutual recriminations. He would have made a diversion

in favor of his Prisoner. He adroitly suspected that some of the surging crowd

 might have been the friends or accomplices of Jesus, and he would have been

gratified to free himself from the responsibility of slaying an innocent man. The

phraseology of Mark suggests that Pilate would have been justified in such

a conjecture, for a momentary pause occurred. There were some symptoms

of wavering in the crowd. But the suggestions of the chief priests passed to

the people. Matthew (Matthew 27:20) says, “The chief priests and elders

(ἔπεισανepeison - persuaded) the multitudes that they should demand

Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.” They needed some persuasion, then: but,

alas! they yielded to it. Mark (Mark 15:11) is still more explicit: “The

chief priests stirred up ((ἀνέσεισανaneseisan moved; excited) the people

in order that he might release Barabbas unto them.” The double phrase sets

forth, in vivid touches, the eager circulation to and fro among the crowds of

the hotheaded and malignant priests and elders, who thus secured, not without

some difficulty, a popular confirmation of their MALIGNANT SCHEME!

 “NOT THIS MAN, BUT BARABBAS!” was the repeated cry of a stupefied

crowd. The memory of all the gracious words and life-giving actions of

Jesus did not subdue the raging passion of their lust; they could neither see

with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts.

(Acts 28:24-27).  The LIGHT that was in them was DARKENED!  They

preferred that a murderer should be granted to them. “Not this Man, but

Barabbas!” is their verdict. Human power and popular feeling and corporate

conscience reached the bottomless abyss of degradation. Jerusalem that killed

the prophets WOULD HAVE NONE OF HIM!   Even human nature itself must

bear the shame which by this cry for vengeance against goodness was branded

upon its brow for ever. Through this daemonic hatred of the noblest and the best,

manifested by the world, the world is itself condemned. “Who is he,” said John

afterwards, “that overcometh the world? Even he who believeth that Jesus

is the Son of God.” The world has made its Sesostris, its Tiberius, its Nero,

its Antinous (and modern so-called liberal and progressive leaders in the world –

CY – 2014) into sons of God; the world has ever cried, “Not this Man” —

not Jesus of Nazarethbut “Jesus Barabbas is son of God.” IT WILL



The synoptic narrative (Matthew 27:19-23; Mark 15:12-14; Luke 23:20-23)

had already made the Church familiar with other details more or

less connected with this incident, and which preceded the final

sentence. John, who followed his Master as closely as possible, was

acquainted with some interesting facts, full of suggestion, which throw

additional light upon the conduct of Pilate, and bring forth some sublime

traits in the character and bearing of our Lord. From the synoptists we

learn that Pilate struggled for some considerable time to get his own way,

and he remonstrated repeatedly with the people concerning their choice of

Barabbas, the murderer and brigand, and their refusal to recall their

malignant deliverance of Jesus to him as a malefactor. The bare idea that

this gentle, silent, magnanimous Sufferer, bereft of His friends, mocked by

Herod, deserted by His disciples, should have the faintest shadow of a claim

to sovereignty in the only sense in which Pilate could understand such an

idea, revolted his common sense. The message from his wife (Matthew

27:19) had furthermore excited his semi-superstitious fears, and he

maundered in a feeble fashion, “What shall I do with Jesus that is called

Christ?” —”with him whom ye say is (accused of being) King of the

Jews?” and for the first time the ominous and terrible cry is returned,

“CRUCIFY HIM!” They do not ask that He be speared or beheaded, or

treated like a convicted aspirant or usurper; nay, they will not be pacified

until the doom of a common malefactor, the shameful death of a criminal

slave, is meted out to Him. Pilate is amazed, and even horrified, by the

intensity of their spite and the cruelty of their hatred. Once and again Pilate

said, “Why, what evil has He done? I found in him no proved occasion of

any kind of death.” The tumult was rising every moment, and Pilate would

have been glad to compromise the matter by sending Barabbas to the cross;

and before he took the course dictated by the angry mob, he washed his

hands in a basin of water, and proclaimed the fact that he had, and would

take, no responsibility for the judicial murder to which they would hound

him. “I am guiltless of the blood of this Man: see you to it” (Matthew

27:24-25). Many commentators refer this proceeding of Pilate to the

moment when he finally uttered the cursed verdict: Ibis ad crucem.

(You shall go to the cross).  Matthew’s account is much more concise at this

point than John’s. Heathen writers had repeatedly scoffed at the notion of

water washing away the guilt of blood. We can hardly suppose that Pilate

meant more than a disdainful repudiation of any sympathy with the infuriated

crowd. This act, instead of appeasing, served to madden the fury

of the populace, who shouted in bitter earnest, His blood be upon us, and

upon our children”a sentence of their own, which rankled in their

memories, and came back a few months afterwards with grim earnestness

(Acts 5:28). “Then,” says Matthew, “Pilate released Barabbas to

them.” (Matthew 27:26). To do this, the governor would return to the

Praetorinm, and Jesus was thus once more face to face with him. Probably

the gorgeous robe which Herod had thrown over His fettered limbs had

been taken from Him; and then Pilate, bewildered, weak, with some ulterior

motive of staving off the madness of the Jews, and satiating their inhuman

thirst for blood, adopted another expedient.





                                    The Trial before Pilate v.28-ch. 19:16


This was the civil investigation following the ecclesiastical. The Sanhedrin

wanted Pilate simply to ratify the sentence of death they had pronounced

upon Christ.


I. THE EARLY RESORT TO PILATE. “Then led they Jesus from

Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves

went not into the judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled; that they might

eat the Passover.”


1. The Sanhedrin were eager for the destruction of Jesus, and therefore

sought Pilate at an unusually early hour of the morning. Their eagerness led

them to disregard the law that did not allow sentence and execution to

occur on the same day.


2. They were obliged to seek Pilate’s intervention; for the Romans had

deprived the Jews of the right of inflicting capital punishment. They might

sentence Jesus to death; it was for Pilate to execute the sentence.


3. Mark their hypocrisy. They feared the defilement of approaching a

Gentile tribunal, but they did not shrink from the greater defilement of

shedding innocent blood.



their sentence on Jesus confirmed without examination. “If He were not a

malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee.” They had

judged Jesus; it was for Pilate to act the part of the executioner.


1. Pilate’s attempt to evade this demand. “Take ye Him, and judge Him

according to your Law.” The Jews still had the right of excommunication

and scourging, but not of inflicting capital punishment. Pilate imagined that

they would be content with the exercise of such inferior punishment as

remained to them.


2. The Jews deflected the thrust by declaring, in effect, that nothing but the

capital sentence would satisfy them. “It is not lawful for us to put any man

to death.” This language implied their dependence on Pilate for carrying

out the sentence.


3. This fact led to the fulfillment of our Lord’s own prophecy. “That the

saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which He spake, signifying what death He

should die?


(a) Crucifixion was not a Jewish, but a Roman punishment. If the Jews had

been their own masters in Palestine, Jesus would have been stoned, and not

lifted up from the earth” (ch. 12:32).


(b) The Gentile as well as the Jew must have a share in the greatest crime

in all history. This was to fulfill Christ’s own words that “He should be

delivered to the Gentiles, and be crucified” (Matthew 20:19).



frame a political accusation. “Art thou the King of the Jews?” He had made

Himself a King!


1. The question of Pilate implies a charge on the part of the accusers as

having given rise to it. The Jews said, “We found Him perverting the

nation, and forbidding to give tribute unto Caesar, saying that He is Christ

the King” (Luke 23:2).


2. It was a question which admitted of two very different answers.


(a) Jesus could have repudiated the kingship in the Roman sense.

(b) He could not have repudiated it in the religious sense without

disclaiming the Messiahship.


3. Our Lord’s method of answering Pilate’s inquiry. Sayest thou this thing

of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?” Everything depended in the

answer upon the fact whether it issued from Jewish or from Gentile lips.

Jesus acted wisely; He neither affirms nor denies anything.


4. Pilate’s hasty and contemptuous rejoinder. “Am I a Jew? Thine own

nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou

done?” What crime have you committed?


5. Our Lord’s answer is at once an admission and a denial of kingship,

according as the standpoint of interpretation is Gentile or Jewish. “My

kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then

would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but

now is my kingdom not from hence.”


(a) His kingdom does not derive its origin from earth, though here it has its

historical development.

(b) Jesus makes no concession to the zealots who looked for a temporal

kingdom of the Messiah.

(c) His kingdom, as essentially spiritual, was not to be promoted by

violence or force.

(d) The weapons of His warfare were taken from the armory of truth.

“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I

should bear witness unto the truth.”


 (α)  The revelation of God is the true scepter in Christ’s hands; as

         unlike as possible to the methods of Roman rule. Truth is

         the realm of Christ.

(β)  The subjects of this realm are all who hear the truth. “Every

       one that is of truth heareth my voice.” “The spiritual man

       judgeth all things.”  (I Corinthians 2:15)


6. Pilate’s contemptuous dismissal of the whole subject. “What is truth?”


(1) This question was not the expression of a genuine quest after truth;

(2) nor the despair of a spirit that had failed to discover it among the

philosophies of his time;

(3) but the cynical and frivolous suggestion of a skeptical sprat.

(4) He had the opportunity now of learning all about the truth, but he

hastily closed the interview with the Prisoner at his bar. “He went out

again unto the Jews, and said to them, I find in Him no fault at all.”

Nothing certainly to warrant the political accusation of the Jews.

But he acted an illogical and time-serving part. He ought at once

to have dismissed Jesus from his bar.

(5) Pilate makes a fresh effort to save Christ without offending the Jews.

“Ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover:

will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?”


 (α) Pilate presumed upon a popular reaction in Christ’s favor.

(β) But the chief priests were masters of the situation.

Barabbas, a robber, was chosen, and Christ left for crucifixion.


            (6) Pilate makes a fresh effort to save Christ. “Then Pilate took Jesus,

            and scourged Him.”


(α) He hoped in this way to avert the extreme punishment by conciliating

the less violent of Christ’s enemies, and awakening the compassion of the

populace. But he utterly miscalculated the fierceness of Jewish fanaticism.

(β) The parody of Jewish royalty — the crown of thorns, the purple robe,

the “Hail, King of the Jews!” — was the scornful act of the Roman

soldiers, who wished to pour contempt upon the Messianic hopes of a

people they despised.


(7) Pilate’s further, but weaker, efforts to save Christ. “Behold, I bring Him

forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in Him.” “Behold the



(α There is a tone of pity and respect in Pilate’s words, which meets no

response among the Jews.

(β) The chief priests and officers demand His crucifixion. “They cried out,

saying, Crucify Him! crucify Him!” The name of the cross is now

mentioned for the first time, and by Jewish lips. Concessions had only

made them bolder. Pilate could not now resist their extreme demands.



RELIGIOUS ACCUSATION. “The Jews answered Him, We have a law,

and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”


1. The Jews point to the article of their code which punishes blasphemy

with death, and demand  Pilate’s execution  of their sentence.

2. The charge was true. Jesus was, indeed, the Son of God.

3. The charge had a startling effect upon the half-skeptical, half-superstitious

nature of Pilate. “When Pilate therefore heard that saving, he

was the more afraid.” He asked Jesus, “Whence art thou?”


(a) This is not a question respecting His earthly origin. Pilate knew

perfectly that He was a Galilaean.

(b) It is a question as to whether He is a Divine Being who had

appeared on earth.


4. Jesus gives no answer to the question.


(a) Because it is asked in pure curiosity.

(b) The true answer to the question would not have affected the procedure

of Pilate in his present circumstances. Had he not already several times

declared Him to be innocent?

(c) The change of accusation, besides, was the self-condemnation of the


(d) If Jesus had not been the Son of God, He would not have kept silence.

His silence is His assent to the charge.


5. Pilate’s offence at the silence of Jesus. “Speakest thou not unto me?

knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to

release thee?”


(a) The governor stands upon his power and authority.

(b) Jesus does not repudiate the claim, but shows that it is derived, and not

inherent, with a corresponding responsibility. “Thou couldest have no

power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.”


(α) The answer displays at once piety and meekness.

(β) It implies a Divine government of society. Under God

kings reign and princes decree justice.” (Proverbs 8:15)

It therefore implies that Pilate was responsible for the use of

his power.

(γ)  It implied that it was in accordance with a Divine dispensation

that He was now subjected to the disposal of human authority.


6.  The greater responsibility and guiltiness of the Sanhedrim “Therefore

he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”


(a) The Sanhedrin subjected their King to the authority of the foreigner,

and thus “committed an act of theocratic felony.”

(b) The greater the light, the more aggravated is the guilt of offenders. The

Jews were more guilty than the Gentiles in the whole transaction of our

Lord’s crucifixion.



intimidation of Pilate. “Pilate saith to them, Shall I crucify your King? The

chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.”


1. The Jews appealed to Pilate’s fears; for he was vulnerable upon many

points, and Tiberius the emperor was the most suspicious of despots. “If

thou let this Man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend.”

2. Pilate, in turn, avenges himself upon the Jews by compelling them to

forswear all their Messianic hopes. They pronounced with their own lips

the abolition of the theocracy. “Such a victory was a suicide.” It marked

the extreme desperation of the Jews, and their utter unscrupulousness in

the pursuit of their bloodthirsty ends.

3. The success of their last maneuver. “Then delivered he Him therefore

unto them to be crucified.” The death of Jesus was compassed by a double



(a) on the part of the Jews to their true King;

                        (b) on the part of Pilate to truth, justice, and law.




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