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Sun, Jul 09, 2000

102 - The Arrest of Jesus

John 18:1-11 by Robert Dean
Series:John (1998)
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 26 secs

The Arrest of Jesus; John 18:1-11

We are coming to the climax of not only the Gospel of John but also the climax of human history. It is the event that begins in chapter eighteen that is the focal point of all of human history, for it is with these events that the most important event in all of history takes place, and that is the event of our salvation. Jesus Christ came into history for one purpose and that is to go to the cross and die as a substitute for our sins. So the focus of all of history is the cross of Jesus Christ. Chapter eighteen begins what is called the passion narrative—passion being an old word for suffering. In 18:1-11 we have the summary of what took place when Jesus Christ was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. John does not go into the same detail in certain aspects that the other Gospel writers do. But one thing that we see here and which John wants us to pay attention to is not some of the particular events that take place in the garden but that this is not an accident.

John adds little editorials, his own thoughts, in order to focus us on the issue. We see this in verse 4 NASB "Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him …" He is not unaware of what is transpiring; it is not a surprise; He is in complete control. So the theme that John wants us to understand in John 18 is that Jesus Christ is in complete control of all of the events that are transpiring here in the garden of Gethsemane. The broader theme of this is that Jesus Christ controls history; man does not. What we should pay attention to is the fact that Jesus Christ controls through history even when he is going through the most incredible suffering that ever occurred in history. It appears to be a great disaster but it is not. God is always in control and we should be always mindful of what Joseph said to his brothers after they sold him into slavery to the Midianites when he was about fifteen years of age because of their jealousy and hatred towards him. After many years and they are reunited the brothers are overwhelmed with guilt for what they had done, and Joseph looked at them and said: "You meant it for evil but God meant it for good." The point is that when we look at our lives, no matter how calamitous it may appear, no matter how horrible the circumstances might be, what we have to realise is that Jesus who controls history is in control of the affairs of our own personal lives.

As Jesus goes through this tremendous suffering, rejection, and shame that is brought upon Him in this most heinous of all punishments we can understand how He survived with peace, tranquillity, in fact joy {Hebrews 12:2], He endured the cross. He maintained a mental attitude of stability and happiness in the midst of the greatest rejection, pressure and suffering ever known in human history. In His humanity He survived because of certain factors and His dependence upon God the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ came to the earth for a purpose, and this purpose was to go to the cross. In John 12:27 Jesus said: "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour." This is at the end of John 12 where he has entered into Jerusalem and in 13:1 He sits down for the Passover meal with His disciples. So even though John 12:27 is three or four chapters past in reality the events of John 12 occurred just a few hours before the events of John 18:1. Jesus says: "My soul has become troubled." The Greek word there has the idea of being stirred up, and we see the emotions in His humanity that are being stirred up by the anticipation of what he is going to encounter the next day on the cross when he who knew no sin was made sin for us and the sins of the world were to be poured out on Him. Jesus came to die. John 12:32 NASB "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

The disciples had been commanded to love one another. It is in chapter eighteen that Jesus is going to demonstrate the comparison, "As I have loved you." One of the first things we will note in loving one another is being oriented to the plan and the purposes of God. We will not have the capacity for love if we are not oriented to God's plan and His grace.

Luke 22:36-38 NASB "And He said to them, 'But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, 'AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS'; for that which refers to Me has {its} fulfillment.' They said, 'Lord, look, here are two swords.' And He said to them, 'It is enough'." Jesus knows they are going to be scattered and is preparing them for when they are on the run. They are to take money, clothes and swords! This is not the meek and mild Jesus of the liberal distortion, this is the God of the universe in terms of reality. There is going to be opposition and hostility and they need to be prepared to protect themselves. This is valid and legitimate. He is telling them that He is going to be put on the cross as a criminal even though he is guilty of nothing. So when they go to the garden they are armed.

Why is it that Jesus wanted them to be armed? Remember the principle: Jesus Christ controls history. He wants to make sure that He is arrested correctly, that no one comes up behind Him and slips a sword in His back—that is not going to secure salvation. He wants to make sure that he is arrested on His terms, not under somebody else's terms. This is why He makes sure they are armed. He is controlling the situation to make sure he is arrested properly and that he ends up dying on the cross and not some other way.

Luke 22:44 NASB "And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground." He will go aside from His disciples and spend some time in prayer. During this time He is going to be under tremendous adversity, the pressure of knowing what he will encounter the next day is more pressure than you and I will ever experience. He is able to survive this because He is oriented to God's grace, to doctrine in His soul, and He is sustained by God the Holy Spirit.   

John 18:1 NASB "When Jesus had spoken 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." Something is taking place here and it goes back to a type in the Old Testament. A type is a shadow of something that will come about in history, so it is a picture of a doctrinal truth or an event that will take place. In 2 Samuel chapter fifteen the context is the Absolom rebellion against David. Absolom managed to seduce Ahithophel who was one of David's closest advisors, counsellors and friends, over to the rebellion side. 2 Samuel 15:12 NASB "And Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counselor, from his city Giloh, while he was offering the sacrifices. And the conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom. [13] Then a messenger came to David, saying, 'The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom'. [14] David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, 'Arise and let us flee, for {otherwise} none of us will escape from Absalom. Go in haste, or he will overtake us quickly and bring down calamity on us and strike the city with the edge of the sword'." So David gathered out from around him his faithful followers and headed out the gate and down the valley of the Kidron and up along the slopes of the Mount of Olive as a type of what would take place with Jesus. What caused David to flee? He was betrayed by his close friend.

David reflect upon this in the Psalms. These psalms are prophetic, they are messianic psalms portraying that which will take place in the life of Christ. Psalm 41:9 NASB "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me."

Psalm 55:12 NASB "For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear {it;} Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. [13] But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend; [14] We who had sweet fellowship together Walked in the house of God in the throng." This is David reflecting upon the betrayal by Ahithophel.

Zechariah 11 talks about the same event when he talks about the price of betrayal and prophesies that Judas would betray Jesus for the price of thirty pieces of silver. Zecharaiah 11:13 NASB "Then the LORD said to me, 'Throw it to the potter, {that} magnificent price at which I was valued by them.' So I took the thirty {shekels} of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD."

So what we see here is the fulfilment of several prophecies in the Old Testament given about the betrayal and arrest of Jesus Christ. John 18:1 NASB "…where there was a garden, in which He entered with His disciples." This garden was over on Gethsemane, it was a place for the wealthy. In Jerusalem it was crowded and there was no room for people to have gardens, so the wealthy had an area in Gethsemane where the oil trees were where they could have their garden. Jesus had access to that through one of His wealthy followers and this is where he and the disciples would camp out. The garden of Gethsemane was also the site of an oil press. They would take the ripe olives and put them in that press and through the extreme pressure that was placed upon them they would squeeze out the valuable liquid. So this is a picture of the pressure that is taking place in the soul of the Lord Jesus Christ as he is prepared to go to the cross and there perform the greatest and most valuable act of human history. Jesus takes His disciples; He doesn't leave them. This is another major issue here: how Jesus takes care of His followers.

In John 18:2 there is a shift to Judas. We should notice that there is a dramatic interplay between three figures in John: Jesus, Judas and Peter. Judas and Peter are a contrast. We see that contrast in the upper room the night before when Judas is betraying the Lord, is obsequious and wants to do whatever wants him to do, but Peter won't even let the Lord wash his feet. Then the Lord has to teach Peter a few things about doctrine, but Peter stays and Judas is expelled. Now we are going to see Judas introduced and when we get into the next section there is an interesting interplay between Peter and the arrest so that weaving the events together John is building tension and is creating the drama of the scene. NASB "Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples." Notice how John uses the participle here. It is the present active articular participle of the Greek verb paradidomi [paradidomi] which means to give over or to betray. The present tense of the participle here emphasises that while Jesus has been teaching the disciples in the upper room and then praying for them, that what has been going on behind the scenes is that Judas has left and has gone to the Pharisees to betray Him. The Sanhedrin has met and discussed this case because they are ready to arrest Jesus because they are afraid that he has become so popular that He is going to create a problem with the Romans. They are more concerned with what might take place with the Roman government and their hostility than the salvation of Israel. Judas has gone to the Sanhedrin but they are limited under Roman rule as to what they can do. So the Sanhedrin send Judas to the Romans to gather them together. Judas has been working behind the scenes with the Jewish religious leaders and with the military authorities of Rome in order to betray Jesus. Judas "knew the place." So Jesus wasn't in hiding, He goes right to the spot where He is aware Judas will come. This is no accident, He knows exactly what he is doing.   

John 18:3 NASB "Judas then, having received the {Roman} cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons." Judas is not a believer. He is called in the high-priestly prayer the son of perdition which is the Greek apollumi, the destroyed one or the one who is perishing. This is the same word used in the verb form over in John 3:16. Judas is the one who is perishing because he has not believed in Jesus Christ as his saviour, so he is not a believer. In fact, he is indwelt by Satan—Satan entered into him, e)iserxomai, used in almost every narrative in the Gospels that talk about demon possession. Judas is demon possessed. He has rejected the gospel, he has rejected Christ, and so once that happens God intensifies the judgment on Judas in his reversionism and allows him to be indwelt by Satan and used for his purposes against Jesus Christ. When Judas goes to the Romans they give him a cohort. The Greek word here is speira [speira], and that refers to a tenth of a Roman legion. A Roman legion consisted of about 6000 men and maybe larger, so a cohort consisted of at least 600 men. The definite article is there which indicates that this is the main cohort that is stationed at the fortress Antonio, named after Mark Anthony.

Think about this. There is Jesus and eleven disciples, the Prince of Peace, in the garden of Gethsemane and they are going to arrest Him. So they send out an entire cohort or the better part of it. Along with them came the temple police and the Pharisees who came along with them. So there were probably another hundred or two hundred from the temple coming to arrest Jesus. Why did they have all these torches and lanterns? Because Judas and the Pharisees came and said it was an insurrection. They had to play it up and tell a lot of lies about Jesus so the soldiers are not sure what they are going to meet, there may be an ambush for them. This is almost a ludicrous picture of all of these soldiers and police coming to arrest Jesus and the disciples.

We have to understand the political background here. In John 11:48 Caiaphas said: NASB "If we let Him {go on} like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." So the Jews are operating from a position of fear that somehow they are going to lose their autonomy. How ironic. By arresting Jesus and rejecting Him as Messiah they lost their autonomy in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed them. Notice what Jesus does. This is the mark of courage. We see our Lord taking the initiative and taking the stand.   

John 18:4 NASB "So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, 'Whom do you seek?'" He challenges them. He keeps His disciples behind Him because in His role He is maintaining His protection of His sheep. We see the great Shepherd in action.

John 18:5 NASB "They answered Him, 'Jesus the Nazarene.' He said to them, 'I am {He.}' And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them." There is no "He" is the Greek. His answer was simply , "I AM [e)gw e)imi]." This is the name for God. [6] So when He said to them, 'I am {He,}' they drew back and fell to the ground." When Jesus says that he speaks with all of His authority, and look at what happens. The army falls down. For this quick moment in time this army coming to arrest the Lord of the universe, the creator of heaven and earth, the one who sustains them in their life at that very moment, they collapse on the ground in obedience before Him at that sound of His voice. They cannot avoid His authority. We would think they would imagine something significant has just taken place because this man spoke and knocked them down. But this is the evidence of negative volition and the self-deception of arrogance. They ignore the whole thing: "That couldn't have happened. If it happened then he is who he claims to be, and I've rejected God and so therefore because God doesn't exist and He can't be the Messiah that really didn't happen." So they can't even face reality. This is what happens when people are in arrogance and in rejection of doctrine.

John 18:7 NASB "Therefore He again asked them, 'Whom do you seek?' And they said, 'Jesus the Nazarene'. [8] Jesus answered, 'I told you that I am {He;} so if you seek Me, let these [the disciples] go their way,' [9] to fulfill the word which He spoke, 'Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one'." So this shows that Jesus not only protects us spiritually in terms of eternal security but he has a plan for our life and nothing can prevent us from fulfilling that plan for our life unless we have to be taken out under divine discipline. This means we can relax, that no matter what the circumstances may be, there is no threat that can take us out of this life apart from God's authorisation. This is what Jesus is illustrating in His protection of the disciples.

John 18:10 NASB "Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave's name was Malchus. [11] So Jesus said to Peter, 'Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?'" Notice the detail John gives us. He cut off his right ear and the slave's name was Malchus. John doesn't tell us what happened to the ear, but the other Gospels do. In a demonstration of His impersonal love and of His care and compassion even for the lost, Jesus does not react. He reaches down and picks up the ear and puts it back on Malchus who is healed.

What we see in this entire episode is how Jesus handles adversity, the greatest adversity in all of history. In conclusion we need to remember that Jesus faced the greatest adversity, greater than anything we will ever face, and in the midst of this He maintained composure, and He continued to function and maintain control no matter how out of control things became around Him. What gave Him that stability and that composure? First of all, he understood God's plan, so he was oriented to doctrine. He knew what the plans and purposes were; He understood grace; He knew what God's provision was and He was committed to that. He was not arrogant or self-absorbed; He was not involved in some pity party about how everything was falling apart. Because he was completely submissive to the Father's plan He could relax and do exactly what He was supposed to do. So He was grace oriented, doctrinally oriented and operating on the faith-rest drill. Furthermore, He was sustained by the same Holy Spirit who sustains us. He understood that even the worst that man could do to Him was nothing compared to His joy in eternity and the importance of fulfilling the divine mission in life. So because He is oriented to doctrine He has the right perspective on reality and he is not making mountains out of mole hills or pushing the panic button. Because of His spiritual maturity in His humanity—Luke 242, He did advance to spiritual maturity in the same way every other human must—He had personal love for God which motivated His love for mankind, and in the midst of rejection and hostility He still cared enough to heal Malchus. Above all, he is motivated by God's plan.