Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

Handling Jesus

John 18:1-40


The time for Jesus teaching is over. Now is the time for others to act on the truth that He revealed. Six groups of individuals try to handle Jesus in one way or another.


Chapter 18 is about the arrest and trial of Jesus. The time for talking has almost ended, the time for action is here. This is Jesus? hour, the culmination of his entire life on earth. But before he gives his life for man, man must completely and totally reject him. Here we see six groups or individuals all trying to basically do the same thing: get a handle on Jesus.


What?s left out: Judas? kiss (Matt 26:49), Jesus? healing the ear (Luke 22:50), Peter?s weeping. The prayer in Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42), the trial before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57-68), the early morning session of the council (Mark 14:53-65), appearing before Herod (Luke 23:6-11).


What?s left is the core of a story of attempted control.


1 ? 2


The place is the Garden of Gethsemane, an olive grove at the base of the Mount of Olives. When you visit there they tell you that the trees currently there grew from stumps after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70 and that an olive tree never really dies so it is quite possible that some of the DNA of the trees there now are the same as when Jesus prayed there.


Judas may have gone back to the room where they had met for the Passover meal, or perhaps he guessed that Jesus would take his men to the Garden. It was a private place, perfect for an arrest out of the public eye.




The ?band? of Roman soldiers could have numbered six hundred. They were probably there to keep a riot from happening. With them were members of the Temple Police. They are armed to the teeth, way over prepared for the man they are about to encounter.


4 ? 11


This is a great story. Perhaps they were expecting someone larger than life. Jesus was just so ordinary that they got right up to him in the torchlight and when he identified himself as ?I AM? they pushed back and fell over! By the way, I?ve heard this as an argument for being ?slain in the Spirit.? I think it is more Keystone Cops than Holy Spirit.


Anyway, Jesus stands between his guys and the soldiers, wanting to protect them. Peter, in his usual bravado, takes out a dagger to fight 600 hundred men! But give him credit, though his aim wasn?t too good, at least he tried. But as Peter will discover, it is not bravery that Jesus is after, but loyalty and trust, something Peter is not yet willing to give. Peter doesn?t yet understand that this is the plan for Jesus to be arrested.


12 ? 14


Annas had been high priest (AD 6-15) but had deposed by the Romans and his son in law Caiaphas, had been put in his place (AD 18-36). The office was supposed to be for life but the Romans didn?t like such a concentration of power in one person so they often changed high priests. This didn?t stop the people from giving the real power to the man they considered still to be high priest: Annas.


Caiaphas said that about one man dieing in John 11:49


15 ? 18


Some say that John was the disciple who got Peter in. There is apparently some evidence that John was distantly related to Annas, but others argue that John, a Galilean, would not have been known and that it was some other unidentified disciple. But to get the details either John had to be there or get them from Peter. Never the less, to get in the door, Peter has to make denial number 1.


Jerusalem is 2,600 feet above sea level and chilly on spring nights, that?s why a fire. Now we switch scenes, over to where Jesus is being questioned.


19 ? 24


Annas questions Jesus about His teachings and His disciples. Annas probably wanted to know if Jesus was fomenting revolution against the status quo. He wanted Jesus to try to defend who He was before a superior. Jesus didn?t and wont? do that. I love his response, ?As those who heard me.? Jesus had spoken openly, but not all of the ears of those he spoke to were similarly open.


25 ? 27


Matthew (26:34), Mark (14:30), and Luke (22:61), tell us of Jesus? telling Peter of his denials. But in the heat of the moment I?m sure he forgot all about it. Here he just trying to survive. He is worried that he?ll be arrested if he is identified with Jesus. He loves Him, but still loves himself and his life more. That will soon change.


28 ? 32


Jesus taken to Pilate about 7 or 8 o?clock. Seven times Pilate went in and out. Obviously vacillating greatly. The Jews initial response to Pilate?s inquiry is laughable. ?Why would we bring someone to you who isn?t guilty. Now just execute him and let?s get it over with.? They apparently didn?t realize the ego of the person they were dealing with. Pilate hated the Jews but feared them (with good reason later on). Pilate wants to put off taking responsibility so he tells the Jews to judge him themselves. But the Romans had taken away the Jews ability to perform capital punishment so they had to convince Pilate that Jesus had violated Roman law, not Jewish law.


33 ? 40


The charges brought by the Jews against Jesus (Luke 23:2):

1. He subverts the nation

2. He opposes payment of taxes

3. He claims to be a King


Pilate wants to get Jesus out of the earshot of the Jewish leaders so he can get a handle on the ?real? story. Pilate questions Jesus as if he doesn?t believe the priests and is surprised at the calm confidence of this man who is neither sullen nor belligerent.


34 ? Jesus does not answer directly. He wants to know Pilate?s state of heart


35 ? Pilate wants to know what would be so serious that they would bring him to the Roman governor.


36 ? Jesus answers the king question by telling Pilate that He is indeed a king, but His kingdom is in another dimension. Jesus could have called out legions of angels to rescue Him but His purpose was to be condemned.


37 ? 38 Again Jesus only acknowledges that Pilate said he was a king, but his words confirm it. But in reality Jesus is interested whether Pilate believes the truth that Jesus indeed is a king?King of Kings.


39 ? Pilate?s famous line. It?s amazing that many people today would probably echo that sentiment. There is no absolute truth. It is all relative. Tell that to the person who falls out of an airplane with no parachute. There is plenty of absolute truth in this dimension, and plenty in God?s.


Pilate very much wants to get rid of Jesus. This is no criminal deserving death, and he comes up with a solution he thinks can buy him out of the situation. He doesn?t have to outright release Jesus (that would make the Jews angry) but when compared to a murderer like Barabbas, surely they will see that Jesus should be released. As we see in Luke 23, the Jewish leaders had gotten the crowd so worked up that they would pick a murderer and insurrectionist over the man who loved and healed and raised people from the dead.




Each of the groups and individuals we meet are trying to get a handle on Jesus.


(2) Judas wants to show that he is in charge, not Jesus.


(12) The soldiers want to contain Him, to keep His ideas from getting out of hand.


(17) Peter wants to rescue Jesus in his own strength, but then keep Jesus at a distance while it is personally expedient.


(19) The Jewish leaders want to find an excuse to reject and then condemn Him to keep from having to confront the obvious?he is the king.


(22) The officer wanted to strike out violently at Jesus to put him in his place for disrespecting the current power structure.


(38) Pilate wants to figure Him out so he can find a way out of a political trap.


Are you trying to handle Jesus? Are you trying to show him that no one can take charge of your life, like Judas? Are you trying to keep his truth from breaking out in your life, his ideas about sin and salvation invade like an insurrection into your brain and heart? Are you looking for an excuse to claim he wasn?t who he said he was? Are you trying to keep him at a safe distance?close enough to sense him but not close enough to have to make your stand with him? Perhaps Jesus makes you so mad you just want to strike out at him. Or perhaps you are like Pilate, who seems to really wrestle with who Jesus is, but he is walking a tight rope. He thinks his self interest is in preserving his office and his life, when in reality his enlightened self interest would be to let his heart lead instead of his head.


Everyone wants to control the situation, and Jesus, and their lives. The reality is that Jesus controls the whole thing completely calmly and effortlessly. Pilate was simply a willing pawn. He orchestrated all the events that took place?doing just enough so that he would be condemned to die unjustly.


The central question of every life, then is: will you try to ?handle? Jesus or let Him ?handle? you?


And for us who already know Him, when He speaks words or does things you don?t understand do you try to control Him or let Him control you? We all find ourselves acting like one of the six here. When that happens, just lift up your hands in surrender.

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