JOHN 18
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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.

They did not know him, and would have been powerless to find him without Judas. This need occasion no surprise, when we realise that the class of men employed to apprehend him were such as hang only about courts and prisons, and could not be found among Christ's audiences during the comparatively short and recent time he had been in Jerusalem as a teacher.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 56



5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them.

"Friend, wherefore art thou come?"

"Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?"

What viler treachery could man be guilty of than to hand over an irreproachable friend to his enemies for the sake of money? But to do this with the privileged token of affection, and to do it in a case like Christ's who went about doing good, and whose only offence was his zeal for righteousness, was to sink to a depth of wickedness that beggars language to characterise Its unutterable infamy was condensed into Christ's simple interrogatory.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 56 



6 As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

What was the reason of this? There is no explanation given. It may seem a singular circumstance, but it strikes the mind as singularly in harmony with the sentiments belonging to the situation. Here was Jesus, the great and glorious and sinless, treacherously brought into the power of an unfeeling mob, the instruments of still more unfeeling and cruel foes assembled at the palace of the high priest.

It seemed as if his word and his claims were utterly falsified by such a triumph of brute force. It seemed as if, after all, he were not to "lay down his life" of his own accord, but that it was to be "taken from" him by his enemies, whether he willed or no, notwithstanding his earnest deprecation of this view in the course of his public teaching.

How terribly torturing was such an appearance of things, when it was the very question which had been decided with much prayer-wrestle in Gethsemane. It seems altogether fitting, therefore, that Jesus should have been permitted to show at this last moment that it was his own surrender to the Father's requirement and not the superior power of his enemies that brought him into their cruel hands.

The withering glance of his eye, which threw them on the ground, could have consumed them in a moment, like the captains and their fifties who went to arrest Elijah.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 56



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.

"And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him".

Luke 22: 51

How impressive is the moral grandeur that could not only teach and practice submission to evil under circumstances so provocative of resentment, but that could at the same moment confer a benefaction on one of his murderers. This was not only "enduring the cross for the joy set before him" (the work of faith); it was the crowning grace of charity added to faith and hope; in which he hath set us an example that we should follow in his steps. It was not only that "when he was reviled, he reviled not again," but he "did good to the unthankful and the evil," which is a higher degree of excellence.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 56



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

"Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world."

The enemies of Christ were only actors in the scene, though at the same time acting the perfectly witting part of malice and wickedness. As Peter afterwards told them,

"Those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he so fulfilled" (Acts iii. 18).

By "wicked hands" they took him; but it was

"by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God"

that they had the opportunity (Acts ii. 22; iv. 27, 28).

Nazareth Revisited Ch 56



13 And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.

The high priest (who that year was Caiaphas), had summoned the chief priests and elders and scribes to wait the result. They were all assembled in his official palace -- one of the leading public buildings in Jerusalem; but the band stopped first at the house of Annas, who was father-in-law to the high priest. Why they did so we may only conjecture.

Annas, as the high priest's father-in-law, and associate in the high-priesthood, would be a man of high consideration in the city; and possibly the captain of the band thought the capture of Jesus would be a very acceptable piece of news to him, and a look at him a gratification to his curiosity, seeing they all hated him and had for some time plotted his death.

It was only for a moment: Annas sent them on at once to the palace, where the whole council were eagerly waiting their expected prey.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 56



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?

Boils the blood at this monstrous official sacrilege? Prays the heart for the vengeance that paralysed Jeroboam's arm uplifted to sieze a prophet who uttered the word of the Lord against his idolatrous altar? The prayer will have its answer shortly, when the insulted Son of Man appears "in flaming fire, taking vengeance," and when these very men will see, in terror, the victim of their cruelty enthroned in glory as Israel's King and Sovereign of all earth.

As yet, it was not the time to show the Father's anger, or interfere with the mission of malice. The officer felt none the worse for his presumptuous sacrilege, but rather the better, as he looked toward the high priest for the approval of his zeal.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 56



24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.

...Here he was a manacled prisoner in their hands. Was not this a proof that he was a pretender, and not the true Messiah? Could the true Messiah be arrested? So they doubtless reasoned, to their own satisfaction, as they sharpened their eyes on the sad and dejected man who stood before them, under the high vaulted roof of a stately chamber, with seats for 70 old men ranged in crescentic form at one end, the horns of the crescent reaching each side of the hall towards the middle.

Nazareth Revisited Ch 56



30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.

In an ordinary case, they would have specified the charge; but they had no charge such as Roman law could recognise, or Jewish either, unless it were blasphemy, which they could not prove. Therefore they answered in the language of pique and wounded pride.

..."We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cesar, saying that he himself is Christ, a King." - Luke 23: 2.

This was a charge of high treason which, on proof, would subject Jesus to the capital penalty of Roman law. Pilate had, therefore, something that he could enquire into.*



34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?

Christ's answer was an enquiry of Pilate whether the question was spontaneous on his part or whether others had suggested it.*



35 Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?

Pilate responded - "Am I a Jew?" As much as to say, "How could I know anything on such a subject myself, being a Roman?"*



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.

It was true that he was a King, and that he claimed a kingdom, but not now. He was not a competitor as other kings were one of another. He was not a political intriguer, or a stirrer-up of insurrection. He did not belong to the present order at all. His Kingdom was not of this world. If it were, his servants would fight, which was what he had expressly forbidden them to do. His Kingdom was "not from hence." It was "from thence" -- from heaven at another time.*



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.

"What is truth?" But he did not stay to get an answer. He had no earnest solicitude on the point one way or other. He was a hard-headed practical Roman who, like another after him, "cared for none of these things," except as they came in his way.

He had evidently come to the conclusion that Jesus was a harmless person of the philosophic stamp, whom the chief priests had arrested from envy because of his influence with the people, and whom it would be wise policy on his part to discharge under the custom that had for some time prevailed of surrendering one prisoner to amnesty at the passover feast. *

*Nazareth Revisited Ch 57