John 18:1-11

Jerry A. Collins



Usually when someone is betrayed, it means they have lost complete control of events and have become victims of the course of action the betrayal produces. For instance, this can happen by means of affairs, espionage, or politics in the company. What makes betrayal so powerful is that it is both unexpected and surprising. What makes the most significant betrayal in all of history so unusual is that the betrayer becomes betrayed. While events seem to be swirling out of control for Jesus, we see Him confidently and calmly in control of all the events that took place in the final hours of His life on earth. It all begins with a twist in the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. Jesus is not only Lord at His birth, he is also Lord of His death.


Here is the transition from the intimacy of the upper room events and Jesus prayer to the Garden where Jesus and his disciples had spent many nights. During festival times like the Passover 1000’s of Jews flocked to Jerusalem most having to stay in tents or other temporary shelters. Jesus has gotten Himself in place now as He prepares for the betrayal by Judas. This was a place that Judas was quite familiar with vs 2 since he too had been in this place with Jesus on many occasions. Jesus is not making it difficult to be found. The timing is perfect. Now Judas leads the parade. The arrest of Jesus was not going to be bungled this time as previously (John 7:30; 44-46). So we read in vs 3 of an entourage led by Judas to arrest Jesus. In 1 Timothy 6:10 it says the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil so it is not surprising that Judas betrayed Christ for money (Jn 12:4-6; MT 26:14-16). This arresting mob had a significant number of Roman soldiers possibly several hundred. The mob included chief priests, Pharisees, temple police and other Jews. They are armed with torches, swords and even clubs. Seems they have prepared for the worst. Possibly expecting Jesus to run for it or at least resist arrest. They came expecting trouble but Judas would identify the culprit for everyone with a kiss of betrayal. Even when it seems like all is lost, never forget the fact that God is in control. God will never allow anything to happen in your life that would destroy his ultimate purpose for your life. This mob would only succeed because it was time according to Gods plan for His Son.


Jesus was not taken by surprise vs 4 as a helpless victim. He was a willing voluntary sacrifice (10:14, 17-18). Judas kiss was both unnecessary and irrelevant so John leaves that detail out. Judas comes with soldiers to take Jesus by force but Jesus stood alone, though unarmed, He was in command. Twice Jesus asks them who it is they seek. Twice they respond Jesus the Nazarene. Twice Jesus says I am to indicate that he is the One they are after. Two things happen after Jesus identifies Himself to this mob. (1) They retreat and fall to the ground vs 6. It is possible that those in front recoiled from Jesus’ unexpected advance so that they bumped those behind causing everyone to stumble and fall. Even Judas who was standing with this crowd John tells us, the betrayer himself ironically falls at Jesus feet too. But there seems to be more going on here. This response comes after Jesus affirmation that He is this Jesus of Nazareth. The identity uses a formula which we have encountered in John previously (8:24, 28, 58). Jesus has applied the divine name I AM (Ex 3:14) to himself and amounts to a revelation of God causing even his enemies to recoil and fall so that Jesus has to ask a second time who are you looking for? Here is a reminder that even in the darkest of hours Jesus holds ultimate power over his enemies and powers of darkness because he is the one who bears the divine Name I Am. (2) Diverts attention from his disciples to himself so that they can be released vs 8. Jesus is referring to the 11 who were loyal to Him and present at his arrest. He successfully diverts attention from these by getting the soldiers and officers to admit that it is only him they are after in each case. Even now Jesus still protected and cared for his own, giving himself up on their behalf. From Johns perspective this is acting out beforehand what Jesus will actually do for his followers when he goes to the cross. An illustration of His substitution as he died not only for them but instead of them. John interprets this action as a fulfillment of Jesus own words in 17:12. The point is that Jesus is doing exactly what He promised he would do. He is bringing about future events just as he foretold them every step of the way. Jesus is in complete control of events.


Discerning what was about to take place, the disciples asked if they should make a fight of it in Luke 22:49. Apparently Peter did not wait for an answer. He struck out with his sword severing the right ear of Malcus slave of the high priest vs 10. This incidental evidence is remarkable confirmation of the historical reliability of the Bible. These details suggest eyewitness testimony. But before anything can happen Jesus intervened. Jesus rebukes Peter before he can get another swing in. Jesus is in the middle of securing the release of His disciples when Peter draws his sword. Peter had earlier promised that he would die for Jesus (MT 26:33-35) and perhaps he could save Jesus or go down fighting. Peters impulsive behavior was already alluded to in John 13:37. Jesus rebuke is telling. Peter is resisting the plans and purposes of God. Peter endeavors to save the Lords life when He is committed to voluntarily giving it up. That is what Jesus is referring to when he says he must drink the cup of the Father. Jesus heals Malcus’ ear (Luke 22:51) so there is no longer any evidence of resisting arrest on the part of the disciples. Have you ever lopped off somebody’s ear hoping to do some good for the Lord? Peter mistakenly supposed he was furthering the cause of Christ by taking up the sword. But the kingdom of God is not advanced that way. Gods purposes are not dependent upon our fleshly ways. If we try to serve God that way we will only get in the way of what God purposes instead of participating in what He has planned. Jesus cup will not be pleasant. While not it is made helpful that it was the Fathers choice. God sometimes chooses hard things for us.