John 18 Part 1

From the House of The Nazarene. This will be a very in-depth deep-dive study of the Book of John.

Let us continue, then, in our study series on the Gospel of John and begin with a prayer. Lord, we thank You for this evening and we thank You for the freedoms that we enjoy and we pray that we wouldn’t take them for granted. May we always have a heart of gratitude for Your gifts and most of all for Your great gift, Your indescribable gift, of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
We are up to chapter 18 from chapter 17, and we are moving, now, in this chapter, from the private ministry of our Lord, with His disciples, into the public drama of redemption. We had five chapters that slowed down the clock to one day.
So, the first 12 chapters of John covered basically the essence of His three and a half-year public ministry, beginning in Judea and also Galilee, and then the clock stops in chapters 13 through 17. If you looked at John, chapters one through twelve, what we would have is His three and half year public ministry, although even here He spends less and less time with the public and more and more time with His disciples as time goes by, in view of the mounting opposition.
Then, in chapters 13 through 17, we have the Upper Room discourse. In these chapters, Jesus is telling His disciples the essence of what is to take place and the resources God will give them. He has an opportunity, and we are listening in on this very holy conversation of the last words that He gives His disciples. Again, if you had a chance to speak to your loved ones, and knew you would be dead in one day, what would you say to them? It wouldn’t be trivial stuff.
So, John, alone, gives us an overview of this and in those chapters, you recall, He talked about His offer of peace, His offer of love, His offer of joy, His offer of the Holy Spirit, and His promise to come again to receive them to Himself, so that where He is, so they may be also. Notice how utterly other-centered it is. He never focuses on His needs but on their needs. He knows that they are distraught and yet He focuses on them because He knows that this is the purpose for which He was sent, to complete His Father’s business on this earth.
Then, in John 18 through 21, then, we go back to a public ministry. Only John records this private ministry. We would be greatly impoverished if we did not have the Gospel of John. It is the supplemental Gospel, for whom something like 90 percent is unique. 92 percent of John is found only in the Gospel of John, so it is truly great that we have it. Really, what we have in this particular text, is the essence of the Epistles. These are the seeds for all the doctrines about how the spiritual life would be led in the Epistles that would follow. That is why I tell Christians whether they be new or even more mature to study and understand the book of John first, then the other Gospels will make more sense. That is also why I’m putting out such an exhaustive study of John.
So, we now move back to a public ministry and in the earlier public ministry, we saw that He accomplished seven signs. These seven signs were designed to demonstrate who He was. The last sign was the raising of Lazarus in chapter 11. Then, we have an eighth sign, and that sign, of course, is the most important one and it is the resurrection from the dead.
So, here will be the culmination of the evidence for who He is by virtue of His resurrection from the dead. It is not just as evidence for who He is, but it also the basis for our redemption and salvation and the basis for our having a right relationship with the living God. So, keeping this in mind, we are making the transition into the third major portion of the Gospel of John.
So, let’s move on into John 18 and what we see in this text is that man will do his worst and God will respond with His very best. That is the real contrast that we see here. We see, first of all, the theme of obedience, in the garden, “When Jesus spoke these words, He went forth with His disciples over the ravine of the Kidron, where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples.” It tells us, in Luke, chapter 22, that Jesus often went to this garden with His disciples, not only to rest, but to meditate, to pray, and the fact is that during this particular time of Passover, Jerusalem would be filled with pilgrims attending the Passover. Jesus would want to go to a private place, where He could get away from the press of the multitudes. Of course, this is an important theme for all of us, isn’t it? Frankly, we all need places of solitude and silence in our lives, otherwise, we only live on the surface of life and we lose the real sense of what life is about. It is good for us to have rhythms of activity and engagement on the one hand, but also rest and reflection on the other. That is really how that works.
Now, looking at the garden, you know there is a huge theme, don’t you? Everything begins in a garden and it ends in a garden, in a way. Jesus often went to the garden with His disciples, as we said, and human history is something that tells us something about a journey. The garden that Jesus went into with His disciples will remind them of a garden the first Adam went into. Recall he was created in this garden and the book of Genesis really begins with a garden and it ends, in the book of Revelation, in a city. There is still a garden in that city. You recall, of course, the first sin was committed in that garden and the first Adam disobeyed God and was cast out of the garden, lest he eats from the tree of life and lives forever. Having been cast out of that garden, the last Adam, Christ, as we see in 1st Corinthians 15:45, was obedient as He went into this garden, the garden of Gethsemane. You might say that in a garden the first Adam brought sin and death to humanity, but Jesus, by His obedience, the second Adam, brings righteousness and life to all who would trust Him.
So, the first Adam turned a garden into a wilderness, in a way, and turned it into death and a context of alienation. But, the second Adam, because of His obedience, turns this garden into the gate of paradise. The difference is simple. ‘Thy will be done’, in Christ’s case, versus ‘My will be done’, in Adam’s case. They wanted to have life on their terms, supposing somehow that God was somehow keeping their best interests at bay because He was not going to give them the full knowledge. Eden, then, was a context of disobedience and sin, and Gethsemane was a garden of obedience and submission.
So, the contrast is very radical, disobedience and sin versus obedience and submission. Heaven, I think, is going to be an eternal garden of delight and satisfaction. By the way, the word ‘Gethsemane’ means ‘oil press’, because they had olives there and these olives would be picked and put into the press to squeeze out their oil. The text also mentions the Kidron valley and this was the same Kidron valley David crossed when he was rejected by his nation and betrayed by his own son, Absalom, in 2nd Samuel 15. Jesus was rejected by His people and at that very moment was being betrayed by Judas Iscariot, at the very moment He is doing this.
Now, David’s treacherous counselor was a fellow named Ahithophel, and he hung himself and David’s treacherous son, Absalom, was caught in a tree and he was killed while he was hanging there. It seems to me very interesting that Judas went out and hung himself. In any case, let us go on, now, to verses two through nine. There is, of course, this treachery of the kiss in the garden. “Now Judas, also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples.”
So, he was very familiar with that place and frankly I am stunned that this man, who had so many privileges, despised those privileges and opportunities that he ultimately wasted. He was privy to Jesus’ teaching, to Jesus’ love and ministry, yet he rejected it. “Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons.” You need to know that a ‘cohort’ was one-tenth of a legion. Anyone know how big a Roman legion was? A Roman legion numbered 6,000 soldiers, so a cohort would have been 600 men. I have to say that the Passion of the Christ disappointed me on this part because they only had 20 or 30 soldiers and they were only temple guards, but this was a Roman cohort and it mentions that plus “officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees.”
So, it was a pretty big crowd that came out and they were armed, it says, “with lanterns, torches, and weapons.” And Judas was really the one leading them in there. And “Jesus,” it says, and note in verses four and five, that He was in full control, “knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth to them and said, ‘Whom do you seek’?”
So, He comes out; He doesn’t let them find Him. He goes out to meet them. Do you see the difference there? “They answered Him, ‘Jesus the Nazarene’. He said to them, ‘I am He’.” Actually, He didn’t say, “I am He.” He said ‘I am’, or ‘ego ami’. Recall that whenever you see a word in Italics, it means it is implied in the English translation, but not in the original.
So, He said, ‘ego ami’, ‘I am’. “And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them.” I want us to pause for a moment and review the fact that Jesus well knew what would happen. He knew that “His hour had come,” from chapter 13, and He repeated the fact that it was going to be time if you look at chapter 16, again, and verse 19, that He said, “In a little while, and you will not see Me, and again in a little while you will see Me.”
So, He well knew what was going on and, frankly, I think He shocked Judas. I also think He shocked the arresting officers because He boldly presented Himself to them. Part of this is to illustrate, again, that Jesus willingly laid down His life. No one took His life from Him. Rather, He laid down His life for the sheep. If He had chosen not to lay down His life, just as so many cases before, remember they wanted to stone Him and what would it say about those stoning events? Jesus just went His way. You don’t just go away when you have a mob that wants to kill you. Yet it says He just went His way. The Gospels are masters of understatement.
But, “His hour had not yet come.” He was invincible until the Father’s will and the hour had come. And so, now He knows the hour has come and He willingly presents Himself. Notice what happens. In verse six, when He said, ‘“I am He’, they drew back and fell to the ground.” I would have liked that in the movie as well, but it wasn’t there. The fact is, something happened when He said, “Ego ami.” You know the words ‘ego ami’ means ‘the I am that I am’. It is an allusion back to Exodus. Remember that? God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh the ‘I am’ sent you, and it is the One who appeared to Moses at the burning bush. Remember the idea there? It is an allusion to His power and to His divinity. “So when He said to them, ‘I am He’, they drew back and fell to the ground.”
The word that is used there, in the Greek, means that they were pinned there. All He needed to do, if He had chosen, would have been to walk over their bodies and quietly walk away. They were pinned to the ground; 600 of them. You see, again, that John is a master of understatement. I’ll tell what I think happened. Remember the transfiguration with the disciples, what did they observe? The veil was removed and they saw His pre-incarnate glory for a moment and they were dazzled because He was brighter than the sun.



Now let’s continue on to part 2

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