James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.John 18:1-19:42
AT MAN’S JUDGMENT SEAT
A way to study this lesson is to compare the text with the corresponding places in the synoptics and observe what is original to John. Any “Harmony” of the Gospels would furnish valuable aid. For example, it is John who named “the brook Cedron” or “Kidron,” and identifies the “garden” (John 18:1). The others speak of “a place called Gethsemane,” etc., but nothing more. He alone tells us that Judas “knew the place,” and why (John 18:2), John 18:4-8 is new, and one sees its fullness as the design of that Gospel is to emphasize the power and Godhead of Christ. Here we learn the name of the high priests’ servant Malchus (John 18:10). Again from John 18:13-17 is original, and from John 18:17-23, also John 18:29; John 18:32; John 18:34-38. These give details of Peter’s denial of His Master, and Jesus’ hearing before the Sanhedrin and before Pilate.
John gives no record of the agony in Gethsemane, which otherwise would have appeared between verses 1 and 2 of chapter 18.John 18:2 affords one of the many illustrations in this chapter of the voluntariness of Christ’s death. He did not hide himself, but went where He could easily be found. John 18:4 is to the same purport. With John 18:6 compare Psalm 28:2. Let not John 18:8 be passed without noting the illustration of Christ’s constant watch-care and protecting power over all His believing people. John 18:9 shows that one way he keeps His people faithful is by keeping them from being tempted above what they are able to bear. The circumstance in John 18:13 is mentioned only by John, and is explained by saying that Annas, having served his time as high priest, was living in the same place with his son-in-law. Certainly their relations were intimate judging by Luke 3:2. There was disorder in the office of the high priest at this period, which must be kept in mind in considering the difficulties of this chapter, John 18:24 for example. Then too, for wise reasons, the Holy Spirit may have led one writer to dwell more on one set of facts than another. If each had told the story in the same words, the whole would have been less satisfactory.
The larger part of chapter 19 is new with John. The events are the crowning with thorns (John 19:1-3); the appearance before the multitude (John 19:4-13); the final rejection (John 19:14-15); the crucifixion (John 19:16-37); the entombment (John 19:38-42).
The outstanding figure from the point of view of human iniquity is Pilate, the double-minded, cruel deceitful Pilate. Note the scourging of Jesus (John 19:1), and remember that “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
Matthew 27:29 tells us that this took place in the “common hall,” the soldier’s guard room, the character of which may be imagined by what we know of similar places in modern days. The Roman legionaries were expert in torturing prisoners. John 19:7 refers to Leviticus 24:16. John 19:14 means that it was the day before the great Sabbath of the Passover Week (Mark 15:42). There is a difficulty in that John speaks of the sixth hour and Mark the third, a common solution being that the latter reckoned by Jewish and the former Roman time. Note how the close of John 19:15 stamps the Jews at this time as an apostate nation. With the word “delivered” (John 19:16), compare Romans 4:25; Romans 8:30, and with “led,” Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:32. With “went forth” (John 19:17), compare Leviticus 16:27 and Hebrews 13:12.
At John 19:24, note the importance of interpreting prophecy literally, of which importance there are several illustrations in the chapter (for example John 19:36-37). At John 19:28-30 observe another proof of the voluntary character of Christ’s death, as the final separation between body and soul could not take place until he willed it. The “blood and water” (John 19:34) was a symbolic fulfillment of Zechariah 13:1, which see. John 19:38 was predicted in Isaiah 53:9, which should be translated, “His grave was appointed with the wicked; but with the rich man was His tomb.”
1. Do you possess a Harmony of the Gospels?
2. Name some of the events original to John in these chapters.
3. Name some of the proofs of the voluntariness of Christ’s death.
4. What is one of the means by which Christ keeps His people faithful?
5. How often is Isaiah 53 quoted in this lesson?
6. How would you harmonize the difficulty in John 19:14?
7. Name some of the illustrations of the importance of interpreting Old Testament literally when it can be done.