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!

  1. The Arrest

    1. 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

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

    2. 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

      1. 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.)

      2. 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.)

    3. 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
      he soldiers.)

      1. Read Acts 26:13-15. What comparisons do you see in
        these two situations?

      2. 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.)

    4. 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.)

  2. The Pre-trial

    1. 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.)

      1. Why does John comment about the views of Caiaphas,
        the son-in-law to Annas? (He wants us to understand
        the bias against Jesus.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. 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?

        1. 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.)

  3. Caiaphas’ Trial

    1. 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!)

      1. 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.)

        1. Who do you think was behind these false

          1. Who, then, should have been on trial here
            instead of Jesus?

    2. Read Matthew 26:60b-61. Does this sound right to you?
      Compare John 2:19.

      1. Is this worthy of the death penalty?

      2. What do you find ironic about the testimony/ charges
        that the Jewish teachers were finally able to put
        together against Jesus?

        1. Let’s look at the context of John 2:19 by
          reading John 2:18. What is Jesus talking about
          when He refers to the “temple?” (Read John 2:21-22. He is referring to Himself. The irony is
          that this is the precise result of this trial;
          Jesus’ death and resurrection in three days.)

    3. 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

      1. What is wrong with Caiaphas’ question? (Again, he is
        trying to get Jesus to incriminate Himself.)

    4. Read Matthew 26:64. What does Jesus’ response say about
      those who claim that He was a good and holy man, but not

      1. Compare Daniel 7:13-14. If Caiaphas knew the book of
        Daniel, what should he have concluded?

    5. 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.)

    6. Read Matthew 26:67-68. What does this teach us about the
      group that was “judging” Jesus?

      1. 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.)

      2. How do you react to unexpected blows to the head?

      3. How do you react to people spitting in your face?

      4. How do you react to people slapping you?

      5. Now answer the above three questions when you have
        absolute power over the hitters, spitters, and

  4. Pilate’s Trial

    1. Read John 18:28-30. What do you think of the Jewish
      leaders answer to Pilate?

      1. Does this show respect? Common sense?

      2. 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.)

    2. 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
      intimidate Pilate.)

    3. Pilate asks Jesus some questions. Read John 18:38 and John
      19:1. Have the Jewish leaders correctly judged Pilate?

    4. 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.)

      1. Why would God do this? (No judge in this series of
        trials was without warning from God.)

    5. Friend, how about you? How do you judge Jesus? Your
      response is life-altering. Why not accept Him as your King
      and Redeemer today?

  5. Next week: Darkness at Noon