Introduction: Everyone wants to be treated fairly. When we think we
have been unfairly treated we get angry. In the United States, we
also go out and find a lawyer! In my experience, most people who are
mistreated by the authorities, and who think they have the power to
correct the mistreatment, do what is in their power to make things
right. This week we study the unjust trial and abuse suffered by the
most powerful being in the universe. He had “payback power.” Did He
use it? Let’s jump into our study!
- The Arrest
- Read John 18:2-3. Imagine you are one of Jesus’ disciples.
Can you see and hear the soldiers coming towards you?
(They had torches and weapons. I’m sure you could see them
- How would you feel to see this group heading towards
you? (The IVP Background Commentary tells us that at
Passover the moon was nearly full. Thus, you would be
able to see not only the torches, but you would be
able to see the group coming your way.)
- Since we know it was a full moon, why would they
bring torches? (They apparently expected to have to
search for Jesus in hiding places.)
- Read John 18:4-5. Why does John explain to us that Jesus
knew “all that was going to happen to Him?” (Since John
records the question, “Who is it you want,” he wants us to
know Jesus asked the question for a purpose other than
getting information. Jesus was not surprised by His
- If Jesus was not looking for information, why did He
ask the question? (Judas was there to identify Jesus.
Judas presence assumes Jesus would try to blend into
the crowd. However, Jesus does nothing of the sort.
He boldly steps forward and gives His name.)
- What do you think is significant about Jesus
answering “I am He?” (Compare John 8:58. “I am” is a
claim to being God. Jesus comes forward unafraid and
declares that He is God.)
- Read John 18:6. Why did the soldiers fall down? Did they
send the drunk detachment out to arrest Jesus? (The
commentaries suggest that Jesus’ “I am” statement is not
clear here. They say the language could simply mean that
He was the person. My view is that verse 6 reveals that
Jesus intended the “I AM” (see, Exodus 3:14) statement.
Heavenly power attended the “I AM” statement and staggered
- Read Acts 26:13-15. What comparisons do you see in
these two situations?
- We have the power of God momentarily display itself
in the garden against the soldiers. Why did Jesus
display this power? (This is further evidence that
Jesus voluntarily gave up His life. He had the power
to stop this arrest.)
- Read John 18:7. What tone of voice do you think Jesus used
here? (If it had been me, I would have had a sneer on my
face: “Okay, tough guys, who was it you wanted?” I’m sure
Jesus was more mature than I am.)
- The Pre-trial
- Read John 18:12-14. Why would they bring Jesus to someone
who was not the high priest? (Ellicott points out that
Annas used to be the high priest. Although he was “fired”
by the Romans, he had such influence that he was able to
have five of his sons, as well as his son-in-law,
appointed High Priest after him.) So, Jesus was taken to
the “insider” in Jewish politics.)
- Why does John comment about the views of Caiaphas,
the son-in-law to Annas? (He wants us to understand
the bias against Jesus.)
- Read John 18:19-21. Why doesn’t Jesus answer the former
High Priest’s questions? What reasons can you see for
Jesus’ answer? (1. I have read that the American rule
against self-incrimination had its roots in Roman and
Jewish law. Jewish law clearly required the testimony of
witnesses in a murder trial. ( Numbers 35:30) Two or three
witnesses were required to impose the death penalty.
( Deuteronomy 17:6) Thus, Jesus is making a “Your honor, I
object to being asked to testify against Myself.”) 2. He
is being questioned in the dark of night at a private
gathering. Jesus compares this to His teaching which was
open and public.)
- Read John 18:22-23. What kind of inquisition is this?
(Violent and unfair. John paints a picture of Jewish
leadership who was not interested in a fair trial.)
- How do you react when people treat you unfairly?
What if the government system, which is supposed to
be fair, is unfair to you? How do you react then?
- What theme do you see so far in these texts?
(This is the gospel, that Jesus unfairly died in
our place. He who had no sin died for our sins.)
- Caiaphas’ Trial
- Read Matthew 26:57, 59-60. Jesus is now taken before the
actual High Priest, Caiaphas, where they decide to (sort
of) follow the rule of law. What is the problem with
following those pesky legal rules? (The false witnesses
could not agree!)
- What should have happened at this point? (Read
Deuteronomy 19:16-21. The false witnesses in a
capital trial are to be put to death.)
- Who do you think was behind these false
- Who, then, should have been on trial here
instead of Jesus?
- Read Matthew 26:60b-61. Does this sound right to you?
Compare John 2:19.
- Is this worthy of the death penalty?
- What do you find ironic about the testimony/ charges
that the Jewish teachers were finally able to put
together against Jesus?
- Read Matthew 26:62-63. Why would Caiaphas link destroying
and rebuilding the temple to being the Messiah? (The New
Bible Commentary tells us that the Messiah was expected to
restore and rebuild the temple. So, there is a logical
- What is wrong with Caiaphas’ question? (Again, he is
trying to get Jesus to incriminate Himself.)
- Read Matthew 26:64. What does Jesus’ response say about
those who claim that He was a good and holy man, but not
- Compare Daniel 7:13-14. If Caiaphas knew the book of
Daniel, what should he have concluded?
- Read Matthew 26:65-66. It appears that Caiaphas does know
Daniel! What is the consequence of Caiaphas clearly
understanding the claims of Jesus? (It condemns him. He
announces the crime of blasphemy, thus the High Priest
clearly understood Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah.)
- Read Matthew 26:67-68. What does this teach us about the
group that was “judging” Jesus?
- When they asked the question, “Prophesy … who hit
you,” what does that suggest about the nature of the
blow? (That they were striking Jesus from behind.)
- How do you react to unexpected blows to the head?
- How do you react to people spitting in your face?
- How do you react to people slapping you?
- Now answer the above three questions when you have
absolute power over the hitters, spitters, and
- Pilate’s Trial
- Read John 18:28-30. What do you think of the Jewish
leaders answer to Pilate?
- Does this show respect? Common sense?
- What do you think about the leaders concern about
being able to eat the Passover? (John again brings to
our mind the irony of this.)
- Read John 18:31. Pilate reacts as I would expect any judge
to react. What is going on in the minds of the Jewish
leaders that they would speak to Pilate this way? (It
shows anger and arrogance. They apparently think they can
- Pilate asks Jesus some questions. Read John 18:38 and John
19:1. Have the Jewish leaders correctly judged Pilate?
- Read Matthew 27:19. Matthew tells us that just at this
time Pilate’s wife sent him this message. Who gave this
dream to Pilate’s wife? (God.)
- Why would God do this? (No judge in this series of
trials was without warning from God.)
- Friend, how about you? How do you judge Jesus? Your
response is life-altering. Why not accept Him as your King
and Redeemer today?
- Next week: Darkness at Noon