That You May Believe
Dr. F. J. May and Dr. H. Lynn Stone
Section III – Gospel Messages From John 18-21
Lecture 2, THE LORD AND THOSE WHO ARRESTED HIM (John 18:3-13)
The Scripture Text – John 18:3-13
Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and
Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus
therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said
unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith
unto them, I am (he). And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As
soon then as he had said unto them, I am (he), they went backward, and fell to the
ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of
Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am (he): if therefore ye seek me,
let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them
which thou gavest me have I lost none. 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. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the
cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Then the band and the
captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and led him away to
Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiphas, which was the high priest that
A. Those Who Arrested Jesus (John 18:2,3,5,10)
Without going into the same type of detailed description as the Synoptic writers,
John simply makes five brief but indicting statements concerning Judas who was one of
a. Judas, Which Betrayed Him
The Greek word (PARADIDOMI, #3860) translated "betrayed" is a compound
verb that comes from the verb DIDOMI (#1325, which means "to give") and the
preposition PARA (#3844) which means "from beside." So Judas "gave Jesus from
beside" himself and handed Him over to the Jews. John does not mention the betrayal
kiss (Mt. 26:48,49; Mk. 14:44,45; Luke 22:47). To him it seems to be incidental to the
heinous act of "giving Jesus over" to the Jews.
b. Judas Knew the Place
The Apostle explains that Judas "knew the place: "…for Jesus ofttimes resorted
thither with his disciples." The Greek word for "resorted" (SUNAGO, #4863), from
which the word synagogue comes, especially means "to entertain, hospitality" (Strongs).
Judas had been privileged to enter into the most intimate times of retreat, relaxation and
interaction with the Lord.
c. Judas, Having Received Men
Judas "received" (LAMBANO, #2983) the men in the sense of "to get hold of" as
opposed to the more passive "to have offered" (DECHOMAI, #1209) or the more
aggressive "to seize" (HAIREOMAI, #138). While he did not force the Jews to provide a
military escort neither did he simply passively accept their presence. Judas himself was
an active participant in recruiting the men who accompanied him to take Jesus.
d. "Judas Cometh Thither"
Notice carefully here the wording of John. "Judas then, having received a band of
men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither." The verb form
"cometh" (ERXETAI) is singular. Judas is clearly the one responsible for this coming of
the entire crowd to take Jesus back to the Jews.
e. "Judas Stood with Them" (v. 5)
After their arrival and initial inquiry John is careful to point out that "Judas also,
which betrayed him, stood with them." It was not simply a matter of Judas' bringing the
multitude to the garden and then letting them carry on with the arrest. Judas himself was
an active participant with the soldiers and attendants from the Pharisees in the entire
sordid and unjust arrest.
So with these five statements Judas is clearly indicted as being the person who
was primarily responsible for the arrest of the Lord. The fact that he had been intimately
associated with Jesus as one of the twelve but now chooses to stand alongside the Roman
soldiers and temple authorities makes his treachery even more scandalous.
2. "The Band and Officers from the Chief Priests and Pharisees"
A "band" was "a Roman cohort or tenth part of a legion, and therefore containing
about 600 men" and probably referred to "the garrison of the castle Antonia, which,
during the Passover, was available to assist the Sanhedrin in maintaining order"
(Expositors Greek New Testament, p. 847). While some scholars insist only a part of the
cohort came with Judas, this is mere speculation. The article would seem to imply that
the entire group of 600 soldiers accompanied the traitor to the garden.
These soldiers were in addition to the "officers" or "temple police" from the chief
priests and Pharisees. We're not told why so many men from two entirely different groups
of authorities were sent to take Jesus. But the wording seems to indicate that Judas
himself was responsible. Possibly it was because that even as a traitor he still recognized
the awesome power of Jesus. Or, perhaps the Jews didn't trust the Romans and didn't feel
that their own officers were sufficient.
But regardless of the reasons, a huge crowd of well over six hundred men came
"with lanterns and torches and weapons" in order to arrest one unarmed Galilean from
Nazareth. Included in that number was one servant of the high priest by the name of
Malchus whose ear was sliced off by Peter and placed back by the hands of the One they
came to arrest. Most of these men probably felt they were simply doing their job –
following orders – having no idea they were about to arrest the King of Glory.
B. The Lord’s Knowledge When He Was Arrested
1. The Lord’s Knowledge and the Ignorance of the Crowd
The Lord's knowledge stands in stark contrast to the ignorance of those who
arrested Him. They evidently thought He would fight so they brought a whole contingent
of soldiers with weapons. They thought He would hide so they brought lamps and
lanterns on a night of a full moon. They only knew they were looking for a man known as
Jesus from the lowly and despised town of Nazareth.
2. John's Description of the Lord's Knowledge
But Jesus met them, "knowing all things that should come upon him." In the
thirteenth chapter John has already given more insight into the marvelous knowledge of
the Son of God. Notice his four specific statements.
John 13:1 – Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this
world unto the Father.
John 13:3 – Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands,
and that he was come from God, and went to God.
John 13:11 – He knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all
John 13:18 – I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled,
He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
3. The Lord's Knowledge Was Not Omniscience
John is not implying that this knowledge of Jesus was the omniscience of divine
nature. Even though Jesus surely is divine "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom
and knowledge" (Col. 2:3) and "in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily"
(Col. 2:9), when He came to earth the Lord chose to separate Himself from the glory
which He had known with the Father from eternity.
As Paul says He "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a
servant, and was made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7). Otherwise it could not have
been said of Him, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God
and man" (Luke 2:52).
4. The Lord's Knowledge Was Learned Knowledge
Rather, Jesus knew because He had learned. The Greek word translated
"increased" (PROKOPTO, #4298) comes from a root, which means to "chop" or "cut
out." The picture is as one who chops down trees in order to cut a road so that an advance
can be made into the unknown wilderness. So Jesus learned by toilsome study just as men
5. The Lord's Knowledge Was From Scripture By the Holy Spirit
However, the Lord's knowledge came directly from the Scriptures. He did no
quote the philosophers. He had not learned from the scholastics. Throughout His ministry
it is obvious that He had searched the Old Testament scrolls until they had become
indelibly imprinted upon His memory.
But He knew the Scriptures not only in word but also in Spirit. Having read and
learned the written Word He spent much of His life in communing with the Father so that
the Spirit of the Word would live in His heart. It was this type of communion that
transfigured Him on the mount so that Moses and Elijah talked with him (Mt. 17:2,3) and
"spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem" (Lu. 9:31).
So the Lord knew "all things that should come upon him" because they had been
prophesied by the prophets and revealed unto Him by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, He
"went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye?" One Man went forth armed with
knowledge to meet a Roman cohort of six hundred soldiers and the entire temple police
force with their deadly weapons.
C. The Lord’s Power at the Time of His Arrest
1. The Lord's Power and "I Am"
In answer to the Lord's question – "Whom seek ye?" – they replied, "Jesus of
Nazareth." Notice carefully how John says He answered. "Jesus saith unto them, "I am."
In the King James Version the translators add the word "he" in italics, as they did in
several different places in the Gospel of John (see John 4:26; 8:24; 56-58; 10:33; 13:19,
pronoun is not in the original. Jesus simply said, "I am."
2. The "I AM" of the Old Testament
Those who were Jews would have immediately recognized that Jesus was using
Jehovah's own name when He said, "I am." When Moses asked God who he should tell
the Israelites had sent him with the message of deliverance, "God said unto Moses, I AM
THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent
me unto you" (Exodus 3:14).
3. Jesus' Use of "I Am" In His Own Ministry
Also, those among the crowd who had heard Jesus speaking to the multitudes
possible would have remembered His claim to being the "I am." Not only did He use "I
Am" (EGO EIMI) as an identifying name of WHO He was, but He also used the term to
tell the Israelites WHAT He was. John particularly notes seven great "I Am" sayings of
– "I am the bread of life" (John 6:35ff)
– "I am the light of the world (John 8:12ff)
– "I am the door of the sheep" (John 1:7ff)
– "I am the good shepherd" (John 11:1ff)
– "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25ff)
– "I am the way, the truth, the life" (John 14:6ff)
– "I am the true vine" (John 15:1ff)
4. The Power of Jesus' Voice
But while some of the crowd would have known the Biblical significance of
Jesus' saying, "I am," it is almost certain that there were those in the crowd who would
not have ever heard of this uniquely Jewish expression. However, it seems that when the
Lord spoke, all of them "went backward, and fell to the ground" (John 18:6). There was
more involved here than the knowledge of "I AM." There was a power in the voice of
Jesus that these men could not resist even on the night of His arrest.
They were the soldiers. He was the meek and lowly prophet. They were the
temple guards. He was the temple that would be destroyed. They were armed with
weapons. He had no sword. They were the multitude of over six hundred. He was the
lonely Nazarene. But they could not stand before the power of His voice and the bold
declaration, "I am!"
D. The Lord’s Mercy at the Time of His Arrest
1. The Lord's Mercy Towards His Disciples
After they had gone backward and fallen to the ground, Jesus said to them the
second time, "Whom seek ye?" They answered as before, "Jesus of Nazareth." Then
Jesus said to them, "I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go
their way." John points out the prophetic significance of this by explaining, "That the
saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gayest me have I lost
none." Even as the hour of His crucifixion drew near Jesus made sure that His disciples
would not share in His agonizing death but would be delivered by the mercy of God.
2. The Lord's Mercy Towards Malchus
While John does not mention it, the words of Luke the physician would surely
have been common knowledge by the time John wrote the fourth Gospel – "And he
touched his ear, and healed him" (Luke 22:51). The Lord's compassionate mercy reached
out to the very enemy who came to arrest Him.
3. The Lord's Mercy Towards Peter
While John does not mention the healing of Malchus he records the Master's
rebuke of Peter. "Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup
which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" This was clearly an act of mercy on
the Lord's part toward Peter, sparing him from certain death at the hands of the Roman
cohort and temple police. At the same time He emphasized to Peter that He was ready to
drink the cup of bitter death that had been prepared by the Father for the salvation of the
4. The Lord's Mercy Towards the Multitude
While Jesus seemed to have been alone before the crowd of soldiers and officers,
Matthew tells how he explained to Peter, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my
Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew
26:53). Had Jesus not been merciful towards the crowd, in one brief moment the entire
multitude could have been destroyed.
5. The Lord's Mercy Towards the Whole World
Instead of calling for the delivering angels the Lord yielded Himself to them.
"Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, and
led him away." Thus began the sacrifice of mercy for the whole world. Paul wonderfully
summarizes it in his letter to Titus.
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving
divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one
another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man
appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to
his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy
Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That
being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of
eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).
Section 3, Gospel Messages From John 18-21, Lecture 2
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