William Kelly Major Works 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 - THE EIGHTEENTH CHAPTER
The Lord had concluded His words to the disciples and to His Father. His work on earth, now about to close, had been before Him, as well as His departure on high, and contingent on both the approaching mission of the Holy Spirit to abide with His own apart from the world. That rejection of the Saviour which has been in view throughout our Gospel was now to reach its extreme in the cross; but its dark shadow, far from obscuring, only serves to bring out the True Light more distinctly. He is man, but a Divine Person, the Son throughout wherever He moves.
Cf. Matthew 26:36; Mat 26:47-56 Mark 14:32; Mar 14:43-52; Luke 22:39; Luk 22:47-53.
"Having said these things, Jesus went out with His disciples beyond the torrent-bed of Kedron,* where was a garden, into which he entered, himself and His disciples. And Judas also that was delivering Him up knew the place, because Jesus often met there with His disciples.323 Judas then, having received the band and officials from the high-priests and from (the) Pharisees, cometh there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus then, knowing all things that were coming on Him, went out and saith to them, Whom seek ye? They answered Him, Jesus the Nazarean. Jesus† saith to them, I am (He). And Judas that was delivering Him up was standing with them. When then He said to them, I am (He), they went away backward and fell to the ground. Again then He asked them, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus the Nazarean. Jesus answered, I told you that I am (He): if then ye seek Me, leave these to go away; that the Word might be fulfilled which He said, Of those whom Thou hast given Me, I have lost not one of them. Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it, and smote the bondman of the high-priest, and cut off his right ear. Now the bondman's name was Malchus. Jesus said then to Peter, Put the‡ sword into the scabbard: the cup which the Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" (verses 1-11). Cf. Matthew 26:39.
* The variations are strange: τῶν κέδρων corrBCL, etc. [Treg., W. and H.], the most uncials and cursives, τοῦ κέδρου pmD, etc. [Tisch.], τοῦ κεδρὼν ASΔ, etc. [Lachm., Weiss, Blass]; others κένδρων, or even δένδρων.
† A few witnesses [BD, etc.] omit [as W. and H., Blass], but the most and best read ὁ Ἰεσοῦς [so Tisch., Weiss: "He . . . I am Jesus "].
‡ The best MSS. and versions omit σοῦ, "thy."
It was the same orchard or garden which in the other Gospels is called Gethsemane (a word formed from the Hebrew words meaning "a winepress" and "oil"), but giving no real ground to say,* as some after the patristic and mediaeval style, that here emphatically were fulfilled those dark words, "I have trodden the winepress alone," as Isaiah 63:3 has foretold, and as the name imports. For the treading of the winefat is when the Lord comes to judge, not to suffer, as the connected text (Revelation 14:20) ought to have made plain. Indeed, no reader save one perverted by theological tradition could mistake the earlier prophet any more than the latest. For what is described in these prophecies is not agony but vengeance, not His bloody sweat with strong crying and tears, but His treading the peoples in His anger and their blood sprinkled on His garments.
* So Mr. Ffoulkes in Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible," i. 684.
But an intelligent and thoughtful reader would remark the striking absence of that wondrous scene where even those who loved the Lord-yea, Peter, James, and John-could not watch with Him one hour. For His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, and though He asked them to tarry and watch whilst He went a little farther to pray, He found them sleeping for sorrow, and this repeatedly. It is notorious that some left out of their copies of Luke (Luke 22:43 f.) the verses which record the angel which appeared from heaven strengthening Him, and the conflict such that His sweat became as great drops of blood falling down on the earth; as if the Lord were lowered by such an expression of real humanity and unspeakable grief, instead of seeing how characteristic the facts are of that evangelist, and of adoring Himself Who could so love and suffer as there portrayed. Yet John, who alone of all four writers of the Gospels was near the Lord, nearer than Matthew-John is the only one who does not describe that conflict at all: and this, not because it was not infinitely precious to his spirit nor because the others had given it to us, but because what he gave, as they also, was by inspiration, and in no way a question of human judgment or feeling. John records, no less than Matthew and Mark and Luke, the miracle of the five barley loaves; and this because it was as essential to the work given him to do as for the others in theirs. For the same reason he, led by the Holy Spirit, does not give the agony in the garden, as not falling within his assigned province. He knew it, of course, and must have often dwelt on it in his spirit deeply meditative beyond all the others, yet he is silent.235
Can anything more attest the overruling wisdom and power of the inspiring Spirit? Yes, in every part and every detail, one as much as another, and almost as self-evident were we not so dull of hearing; nor only in what is omitted, but in what is inserted by infinite grace. Witness what our evangelist tells us next. He brings before us the no doubt appalling spectacle of Judas availing himself of his intimate knowledge of the Saviour's habit and haunt to guide those who wished to take and slay Him. With the band and officers from His enemies, Judas guides them to the spot of the nightly prayer, with lanterns and torches and weapons to make sure of their prey, though full moon shone and He had never struck a blow in self-defence. But Judas really knew not Him any more than his companions did. How terrible the sight of a soul blinded to the deadly malice at work, no less than to the Saviour's glory and His love! How surely Satan had entered when we look at him as he stood with them to betray Him!
Jesus, knowing all that was coming on Him, goes out to them, saying, Whom seek ye? And at His confession of Himself in reply to their answer of Jesus the Nazarean,* they went backward and fell to the ground. How manifest the proof of His intrinsic Divine glory! A Man sent and come in love, yet the true God, this was the constant and special testimony of John, the true key to what he does not say no less than to what he does say. Yet is there no effort, but the most charming simplicity along with this deep and Divine undercurrent. Not all the treachery of Judas, not all the hatred and enmity of the Jews, not all the power of Rome, could have seized the Lord had not the time arrived to give Himself up. His hour was now come. He could have destroyed the company which sought to apprehend Him as easily as He caused them to fall prostrate before His Name; as by-and-by in virtue of His name every knee shall bow, of beings in heaven and beings on earth and beings under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Php 2:10-11).324
* It seems desirable to note that the term "Nazarean" in verses 5, 7, and in John 19:19, is Ναζωραῖος. So it is in Matthew 2:23, Matthew 26:71; Mark 10:47; and Luke 18:37 (though both questioned); and in Acts 2:22, Acts 3:6, Acts 4:10, Acts 6:14, Acts 9:5 (though the best omit), Acts 22:8, Acts 24:5, and Acts 26:9. It is the name of shame and scorn. Ναζαρηνὸς, like ἐκ Ναζαρὲτ, is an inhabitant of Nazareth, reproached or not, and occurs in Mark 1:24; Mark 14:67; Mark 16:6; Luke 4:34; and our Lord we have characterised as τὸν ἀπὸ Ν in John 1:46 and in Acts 10:38.
But when He asked them again, Whom seek ye? and they said, Jesus the Nazarean, grace shone out, not power: the former now, as the latter before, expressing the true God Who was now manifesting Himself on earth in His own Person. "If then ye seek Me, leave these to go away; that the word might be fulfilled which He said, Of those whom Thou hast given Me, I have lost not one of them." Like the ark in Jordan, He would go alone into the waters of death, and His own pass over dry-shod. He gives Himself up freely for them325. The great salvation which is infallible includes every lesser one which suits and serves the glory of God meanwhile. And blessed it is to trace to the same spring of gracious power in Christ all the passing mercies we experience where His hand shields us from the enemy's malice. He puts Himself forward to endure all. His people go free; His word is fulfilled in every way. Where the Father gives, the Son loses none. What comfort and assurance before a hostile world!
But even His most honoured servants fail, and are apt to fail most where they push forward in natural zeal and their own wisdom, too self-confident to watch His ways and heed His word and thus learn of Him. So Simon Peter then displays his haste in total discord with the grace of Christ; for, having a sword, he drew it, and struck Malchus,326 the servitor of the high-priest, maiming him of his right ear. Had Peter watched and prayed instead of sleeping, it might have been otherwise; when we fail to pray, we enter into temptation.
Luke alone, true to his testimony to God's grace, tells us of the Lord's answer, "Suffer ye thus far," and of His touching the ear to heal the wounded man. Matthew alone, in harmony with the rejected Messiah but true King of Israel, gives the reproof which warned His servant of what it is for saints to resist carnally. Mark mentions the fact, but no more. John, agreeably to the purpose of God in his province, presents the Lord in unfaltering obedience to His Father, as before in Divine power and grace. Nothing more calm than His correction of Peter's energy; nothing more distinct than His submission to the Father's will, whatever it cost. "The cup which the Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?"
It is the same Jesus as in Luke and the other Gospels, yet what a difference! Everywhere worthy, never a word or way beneath the Holy One of God, but here above all the Son with perfect dignity and withal entire subjection of heart in suffering as in work. May we think it was His drink now in enduring His will, as before His meat in doing it? Certainly the inward trial, to say nothing of all the outward suffering, was far deeper; yet His heart bowed to all, where to bow in obedience was infinite perfection. As the living Father sent Him, and He lived on account of the Father, so He lays down His life that He may take it again; but if He says, I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it again, He adds, This commandment I received of my Father. Never was such deep and holy conflict as the Second Man knew in the garden; but none of this appears in John.327 Here it is all the power and grace and calm of the Son with no motive but the Father's will. Never was there an approach to such glorifying of God the Father.
The believer will note the bearing of our Lord throughout these closing scenes, His lowliness and dignity, His infinite superiority to all who surrounded Him, friends or foes, His entire submission and withal His power intact. He is a man, the sent One but Son of God throughout. It is He Who shelters and secures the disciples; it is He who offers Himself freely. The traitor and the band, the torches and the weapons, had all failed, if He had not been pleased in letting His own go to give Himself up. For this indeed had He entered the world, and His hour was now come. But it was His own doing and according to the Will of His Father, whatever man's wickedness and Satan's malicious wiles. Not more surely was it the power of His Name which overwhelmed the armed crowd of His would-be captors than that His grace alone accounts for His subsequent subjection to their will.
Matthew 26:57-75; Mark 14:53-72, Luke 22:54-71.
"The band therefore and the commander (chiliarch), and the officials of the Jews, took Jesus and bound Him and led (Him away)* unto Annas first;328 for he was father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high-priest of that year.329 But it was Caiaphas who counselled the Jews that it was expedient (or, profitable) that one man should die† for the people. Now Simon Peter was following Jesus, and the‡ other disciple. And that disciple was known to the high-priest,330 end went in with Jesus into the palace of the high-priest, but Peter was standing at the door outside. The other disciple therefore, that was known to the high-priest, went out and spoke. to the porteress and brought in Peter. The maid therefore, the porteress, saith to Peter, Art thou also of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not. But the bondmen and the officials were standing, having made a coal-fire because it was cold, and were warming themselves; and there was§ with them Peter standing and warming himself. The high-priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and about His doctrine. Jesus answered, I have openly spoken in the world, I always taught in (the)"" synagogue and in the temple, where all"" the Jews assemble, and in secret I spoke nothing: why askest thou Me? Ask those that have heard what I spoke to them: behold, these know what I said. But when He said these things, one of the officials as he stood by gave Jesus a slap on the face, saying, Thus answerest Thou the high-priest? Jesus answered him, If I spoke ill, testify of the ill; but if well, why smitest thou Me? Annas (therefore)¶ sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high-priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore to him, Art thou also of His disciples? He denied and said, I am not. One of the bondmen of the high-priest, being kinsman of him whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did I not see thee in the garden with Him? Peter therefore denied again, and immediately a cock crew."
* The oldest authorities omit.
† The bulk of MSS. support ἀπόλεσθαι, "to perish" (Text. Rec.), but the best ἀποθανεῖν [Edd.].
‡ The article is omitted by some of the best witnesses [ pmAB, so Tisch., W. and H., Weiss].
§ BCLX, several cursives; Theb. Memph. Syrr.pesch et hcl Arm. Æeth add "also" [as W. and H., Weiss, Blass], which the rest omit.
"" The article, added in Text. Rec., with many, is omitted by the best and most; also πάντοτε, "always," the more common reading (πάντοθεν, Elz.) is inferior to πάντες, "all."
¶ οὖν, Elz., with BCpmL, etc. [1. 33], δὲ , etc. Steph. omits, following most [ACcorr, etc.].
Our evangelist notices the fact that the band led off our Lord, not only to Caiaphas the high-priest, but before that to Annas, his father-in-law, who had preceded him in that office, but was succeeded by Caiaphas before his death. All things were out of course, and in nothing was this more evident than in the closing scenes of the Saviour. And therefore does the Gospel recall what was already recorded in John 11, where the highest religious office blended with the lowest expediency, and the prophetic Spirit wrought in the wicked high-priest, as of old in the unprincipled prophet of Pethor. As a rule the Holy Spirit actuated holy men for God's will and glory; but exceptionally He could and did use for that glory those whom Satan was employing to thwart it as much as possible. Nothing can be more striking in Caiaphas' case than the way in which his heartless sentiment is turned by grace into the expression of a great truth wholly outside his ken.
Again we see Simon Peter following the Lord, but not in the Spirit, nor was the other disciple there to his own honour, still less to the Lord's. For he finds access to the high-priest's palace, as known to that functionary, and in no way as a follower of Jesus. And how he must have soon grieved over the kindly influence he exerted to get Peter let in, who had been obliged to stay without! Little did he think that his word to the porteress would give occasion to the terrible and repeated fall of his beloved fellow-servant! But every word of the Lord must be fulfilled. It would seem that the maid who kept the door was not ignorant of John's discipleship, for she says to Peter, "Art thou also of this Man's disciples?" But the trying question was put not to John, but to Peter; and Peter, in the garden so bold, now utterly quails before this woman. Such is man, though a saint: what is he to be accounted of? Nor is fleshly energy better really in Christ's eyes than fleshly weakness, which not only lied but denied his Master in denying his relationship to Him as a disciple. And this was warm-hearted, fervent, courageous Peter! Yes, but it was Peter tried under the shadow of the coming cross. Death is an overwhelming trial to the disciple till he knows what it is to have died with Christ to sin and law, crucified to the world which crucified Him, and able therefore to glory in the cross. It was not so yet with Peter, and he fell; nor can we say more of John and the rest than that they were not so tried. That they would have stood the test better is more than any can accept who believe what God says of them and of man in general.
The high-priest pursues his investigation; Peter renews his sin. And no wonder. For he had slept when he ought to have watched and prayed, and he had ventured into the scene of temptation instead of heeding the warning of the Lord. "But the bondmen and the officials were standing, having made a coal-fire, for it was cold, and were warming themselves; and there was with them Peter standing and warming himself." Evil communications corrupt good manners; and the confession of Jesus before friends is very different from confession before bloodthirsty enemies; and Peter must learn by painful experience what he was too unspiritual to realise from the words of Christ. It is blessed to learn our nothingness and worse in His presence Who keeps from falling; but every saint, and especially every servant, must learn himself, if not there, in the bitter humiliation of what we are when we forget Him. May we abide in Him, and have His words abiding in us, and so ask what we will and have it done unto us! Peter had not thus failed before men if he had not failed before with his Master. Doubtless it is by power of God we are kept, but this is through faith.
"The high-priest331 then asked Jesus about His disciples and about His doctrine." He desired grounds against the Lord. Was this the procedure of-one will not ask the grace which should characterise a priest, but-ordinary painstaking righteousness? It was not to screen Himself that the Lord points to His open and constant testimony. Others unlike Him might cultivate private coteries and secret instructions, not to speak of darker counsels inciting to deeds that shunned all light of day. "Jesus answered, I have openly spoken in the world, I always taught in synagogue,* and in the temple, where all the Jews assemble; and in secret I spoke nothing:332 why askest thou Me? Ask those that have heard what I spoke to them: behold, these know what I said." It was unanswerably true and right. The only reply was a brutal insult from a Jewish underling who would thus, as he could not otherwise, sustain the high-priest.333 But the Lord answered the low as the high with a righteous dignity immeasurably above them all: "If I spoke ill, testify of the ill; but if well, why smitest thou Me?"
* "In synagogue," without the article, for there were many; "in the temple," with the article, for there was but one.
So fared the Lord with the high-priest: how painful the contrast of the disciple warming himself with the slaves! More than one assailed him with the crucial question, "Art thou also of His disciples?" Again the fear of man prevailed, and he who truly believed on Him did not confess, but denied and said, I am not. But this was not all. For "one of the bondmen of the high- priest, being kinsman of him whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did I not see thee in the garden with Him? Peter therefore denied again, and immediately a cock crew." Oh, what fear of man bringing a snare! What blinding power of the enemy thus to involve a saint in direct and daring falsehood, and this to shame Him Who was his life and salvation! But of what is not the heart capable when the Lord is not before it, but fear or lust or aught else by which Satan beguiles? God, however, took care that the dread of man to His dishonour should cover the guilty disciple with self-reproach and contempt and utter humiliation when an eye-witness could brand him before all with his reiterated lying in denial of his Master.
It will be noticed that we have in this Gospel neither the Lord's antecedent praying for Peter and assurance of restoration, nor His turning and looking on Peter after his last denial, when he, remembering the Word of the Lord, went out and wept bitterly. These are given explicitly in the only Gospel whose character they suit and sustain (see Luke 22:31-32; Luk 22:61-62). Here all turns, not on the discovery of what man's heart is, and the grace of the Lord, but on the Person of Christ as the one central object, not so much the Second Man despised by man, and the energy of His love acting on a disciple spite of utter failure in himself, but the Son of God glorifying the Father in the midst of complete and universal ruin, with friends or foes.
The Lord has been before the religious authority;334 He is now to appear before the civil power. It was a mockery everywhere; and so it must be shown out against His Person Who will one day cut off him that privily slanders his neighbour, and will not suffer the man that has a high look and a proud heart, any more than the liar and deceiver, early destroying all the wicked of the land, and especially from the city of Jehovah. Yet His glory they wist not, nor consequently His grace; yet they should not have been blind to His holy and righteous ways; but man, religious or profane, was filling up the cup of his iniquity, and the more so because of God's longsuffering.
Matthew 27:2; Mat 27:11-30; Mark 15:1-19; Luke 23:1-25.
"They led then Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium;335 and it was early; and they entered not into the praetorium that they might not be defiled but eat the Passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and saith,* What accusation do ye bring against this man? They answered and said to him, If this (man) were not an evil-doer, we should not have delivered Him up to thee. Pilate therefore said to them, Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law. The Jews said to him, It is not allowed to us to put anyone to death; that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled which He said signifying by what death He should die. Pilate then again entered into the praetorium, and called Jesus and said to Him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered, Of thyself sayest thou this, or did others say (it) to thee about Me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thy nation and the chief priests delivered Thee up to me: what didst Thou? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, My servants (ὑπηρ.) would fight that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from hence. Pilate then said to Him, Art Thou then a King? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a King. I have been born for this, and for this I have come into the world, that I might bear witness to the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice. Pilate saith to Him, What is truth? And having said this, he again went out unto the Jews, and saith to them, I find no fault in him; but ye have a custom that I should release one to you at the Passover: will ye therefore that I release to you the King of the Jews? They all cried then again, saying, Not this (man) but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber" (verses 28-40).
* BCpmLX, cursives, Cyr., for the Text. Rec., "said" with most.
The activity of hostile will marked the Jews, whose zeal was as great as their punctiliousness and their lack of conscience. Late and early were they at work, from one high-priest to another, pushing on to the Roman governor. Bent on the blood of the Messiah, they scrupled to enter the praetorium; they must not be defiled, as they would eat the Passover and had not yet done so (verse 28).336 Little thought they that they were but bringing about the death of the true Paschal Lamb, and so in guilty unbelief fulfilling the voice of the law to their own destruction, whatever God's purpose in His death. The hard-hearted pagan seems at first fair and just compared with the chosen nation: we shall see how at last Satan found the way to excite his unrighteousness and fix him, as them, in hopeless evil through rejecting Christ. Pilate felt that there was no proper case for him, and asks a tangible accusation (verse 29). The want of this they evade by an affected or real affront at his question, as if they could not be unjust (verse 30). The governor would gladly have thrown the responsibility on the Jews, who betray their own foregone conclusion: Jesus must die; and as death could not be lawfully at their hands, it must be by the hand of lawless men. He must die the death of the cross.
Thus was the word of Jesus to be fulfilled, signifying by what death He should die (verse 32). Compare John 3:15, John 8:28, John 12:32-33 (for Peter, John 21:18-19); also Matthew 16:21, Matthew 17:12; Mat 17:22-23. Stephen might be stoned by the Jews in an outburst of religious fury, James be slain with the sword by Herod; but the Son of man must be condemned by the Jewish chief priests and scribes, and be crucified by the Gentiles.337 "For in truth against Thy holy servant Jesus Whom thou anointedst, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the nations and people of Israel were gathered together in this city to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel pre-determined should come to pass" (Acts 4:27-28). Man universally must prove his guilt to the last degree and the Divine Word be fulfilled to the letter, God Himself (we may say in the Person of His Son) being cast out in shame from His own earth; for all this and more was involved in the deliberate and fatal act. Yet was it the deepest moral glory. Now was the Son of man glorified, and God was glorified in Him. Obedience unto death, absolute devotedness, suffering beyond measure both for righteousness and for sin, met there on the one hand; and on the other the truth, the justice, the grace and the majesty of God, were not vindicated only but glorified. Therein too Satan's power and claims were for ever annulled, and a perfect everlasting basis to God's glory was laid for the blessing of man and creation in general. Such were the fruits of Christ's death on the cross. How dense the blindness of its instruments! how dim the intelligence even of its favoured objects! How blessed the Father and the Son in love and holiness, spite of all accomplishing all!
Again the Roman (whose characteristic common sense saw through the envy and malice of the Jews, and repudiated all anxiety as to the honour or security of Caesar) entered into the praetorium, called the Lord, and said, Art Thou the King of the Jews? He Who was silent before the high-priest till adjured by the living God answered Pilate by the question, Of thyself sayest thou this; or did others say it to thee about Me? (verses 33, 34). This was the turning-point. If the governor were uneasy as to the rights and interests of Caesar, the Lord could have pointed to His uniform life as in John 6:15, and to His invariable teaching as in Luke 20:25, for a perfect disproof and reassurance. But if the question originated, as it really did, with the Jews (Luke 23:2), the Lord had nothing to say but the truth in the face of Israel's unbelief and gainsaying, nothing to do but witness the "good confession" before Pontius Pilate; (1 Timothy 6:13.) and this He does with all simplicity.
The governor's answer made plain what was already sure, that the true Son of David was rejected by the Jew definitively false to the one Divine hope of the nation. "Am I a Jew?" said he. "Thy nation and the chief priests delivered Thee up to me: what. didst Thou?" Not one thing against which there is any law: every word, every way, testified of God. He spoke, He was, the truth, which not only detected man, but presented the Father; and both were intolerable. They would have none of Him; not because He did not give every possible proof of His Messiahship, but because He put them in presence of God and of their sins, from which testimony there was no escape, but the rejection of Himself. Hence the all-importance of what was in question. People and priests alike refused their own Messiah; and He bowed to it. Deeper things were meanwhile in accomplishment; and the infinite glory of His Person, already confessed by the disciples, as well as His work of eternal redemption, were about to be proclaimed in the Gospel and to supersede Jewish hopes. For the gathering together in one of the scattered children of God should replace the disowned nation, till at the end of the age they shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of Jehovah. Then shall the long-rejected Jesus once more and for ever recall them as His own, and bless them unchangingly, and make them a blessing to all the families of the earth.
Hence Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from hence" (verse 36). When the Jews repent, and the Lord returns in power and glory, not only will He be revealed from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance, (2 Thessalonians 1:8.) but Jerusalem be made a burdensome stone for all peoples, as He bends Judah for Him, and fills the bow with Ephraim. (Zechariah 9:13.) But here we have Christianity, which has come in before that day with His kingdom not of this world, nor from hence, but from above, where all savours of the rejected but glorified Christ, and according to the revealed knowledge of the Father, the Jews being as such outside and manifest enemies.
The governor, while satisfied that there was nothing to fear politically, could not but perceive a claim incomprehensible to his mind. "Art thou then a king!" This the Lord could not deny. It was the truth, and He confessed it, whatever it might cost. But having done so, He set forth that which applies now. "Thou sayest I am a king. I have been born for this, and for this I have come into the world, that I might bear witness to the truth."338 The law was given by Moses, and Jesus was the born King of the Jews. But He was conscious of another and higher glory bound up with His Person as Son of God: grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. "Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice." How solemn and unwavering the testimony! The Jews were zealous for the law, not because it was of God, but because it was theirs; the Romans sought this world and its power. They were both blind to the eternal and unseen. Jesus was the Truth, as well as the Faithful and True Witness to it.
It may help some to remark here that "King of His Church," the favourite idea of Puritan theology, is not only unfounded, but opposed to all the testimony of Scripture. Even "King of saints," as in the Text. Rec. of Revelation 15:3, must be abandoned by all who know the best reading. It should be "of the nations," though "of the ages" has excellent authority. Whichever of these may be adopted, it is certain that "of the saints" has scarce any support, as it is also foreign to Scripture and to the mind of Christ in it. "Of the nations" seems plainly drawn from, or in full accordance with, Jeremiah 10:7. Christ is King of Israel in Zion; as Son of man all the peoples and nations and languages shall serve Him; and as Jehovah He shall be King over all the earth. But even as Head, it is written that He is so given "to the Church," His body, "and over all things"; never over the Church, as men have said, who misunderstood His revealed relationships.
He adds, strange to the ears of man, not least to Roman ears: "Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice." If a man did not hear Him, he was not of the truth. How could it be otherwise if He was the Only-begotten Son, yet man on earth? What could such a One come for but for this, if He came in grace, not in judgment? And Pilate, with a "What is truth?" returns to the Jews. He did not seriously seek an answer: an awakened conscience alone does; and grace, as it produces the desire in the sinner, gives the answer of good from God. Not so Pilate, who having said this, went out again to the Jews, saying: "I find no fault in him";339 and suggesting as a solution of the difficulty the customary release of a prisoner at the feast, he offers to let go their King. But this only draws out the depth of their hatred, and they all cry out: . . . "Not this man, but Barabbas." Now, Barabbas, as the Evangelist adds, was a robber. So the Jews chose Satan's "son of the father" (for so the word means). How evident that man rejecting Jesus is Satan's slave!339a
But the Jews in their unbelief are more daringly evil than the dark heathen procurator. He, like the rest of the world, did not know anything of "truth"; they had abundant speculations, one as little satisfactory as another, no certain truth, least of all about God. The Jews knew better; and the Lord compelled them to hear what they could not deny, but would not receive. Therefore, all ended for the present in their hatred of Him up to the cross, and their avowed preference of a robber and a murderer. No flesh shall glory in His presence.
NOTES ON THE EIGHTEENTH CHAPTER
323John 18:2. - We have here manifestly the comment of an eye-witness. All attempts to forge a weapon against such testimony must come to nought.
324John 18:6. - "Went away backward" (cf. Psalm 40:14). These words, as others elsewhere, may well have been directed against the Gnostic theory (Iren., bk. iii.) that "the Christ" forsook "Jesus" in the hour of need.
325John 18:7 f. - Deuteronomy 22:6 here finds its spiritual counterpart. The Lord seems to say: "Take either Me or them; you cannot have both" (Govett). How Frederick Robertson's unhappy words, "He drew too near to a whirling wheel," etc., witness against a preacher whose utterances have been much in vogue! Conspicuous is the truth of sustitution, assailed like so much else in the words of Christ Himself.
326John 18:10. - The fourth Evangelist alone supplies the names. Cf. note above on verse 2.
327John 18:11. - "The cup," etc. Whilst these words are peculiar to John's narrative, they afresh illustrate his way of subdued reference to Synoptic accounts. Cf. Matthew 26:39.
328John 18:12. - "To Annas first." How, in the light of the Synoptic account could any but an eye-witness, the Evangelist himself, have recorded this without contradiction?
329John 18:13. - "Who was high priest of that year." See note on John 11:49.
330John 18:15. - "Known to the high priest." Bleek and Ewald ("History of Israel," 6, p. 118; "Johannine Writings," 1, p. 400) supposed that the Evangelist was related to the high-priestly family. This idea has been used by Delff for his theory that the writer had himself been a priest, as by Burkitt (p. 250) for the notion that he had been a Sadducee. Such fancies have been generated by a statement (in Eusebius) of Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus A.D. 190, that John of Ephesus wore a πέταλον - i.e., plate, coronet, or mitre (cf. Exodus 39:30). This may, however, have referred to one of the same name who, we know, was "of the kindred of the high priest" (Acts 4:6). Whilst Chrysostom and Cyril regard the disciple "known to the high priest" as the Evangelist, Augustine and others have questioned the identity, Bengel supposed Nicodemus to be meant; Zahn thinks, James. "The" before "other" is doubtful: it is not in ÅBD, the Syriac, and Memphitic. Anyhow, γνωστὸς must be distinguished from συγγενής (verse 26). If it be the Evangelist, any trade-connection he may have had with the high priest would sufficiently explain the word here used.
331John 18:19. - "The high priest." Augustine, Chrysostom, Alford, Ellicott and Luthardt understand Annas (cf. verses 13, 24); but Zahn, as most, takes it of Caiaphas. See note on verse 24.
333John 18:20. - "In secret I spoke nothing." See Isaiah 45:17-19, Isaiah 48:12-18. It will be observed that the Lord is silent as to His disciples.
333John 18:22. - The record of this is peculiar to John.
334John 18:24. - Most commentators are of opinion that this should come in between verses 13 and 14, as in some Greek and Syriac manuscripts, and as it was read by Cyril of Alexandria; and that the questioning and smiting took place before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. Some writers, however, suppose that John describes only the informal hearing before Annas, and accordingly passes over the trial by Caiaphas. Cf. Zahn, ad loc.
The verse comes twice in Cod. A. of the Syriac of Jerusalem lectionary, the first time after verse 13, and again after verse 23: this, of course, represents the work of harmonists. Luther's Bible contains a marginal note by himself at the earlier verse that it "has been misplaced in turning the page, as often happens," and at verse 24: "This verse ought to follow immediately after verse 14." John 18:19-24 are absent from the Syrsin. See Mrs. Lewis's remarks in Expositor, vol. 12, p. 519 ("John 18:18; Joh 18:24; Joh 18:14 are really one"). Cf. Blass, "Philology of the Gospels," p. 59, on "blundering scribes." In his text this last of recent editors has placed verse 24 between verses 13 and 14.
335John 18:28ff. - The seven stages in the trial before Pilate, according as it was conducted outside or inside the "prætorium," are verses 28-32 of this chapter, outside; verses 33-37 inside; verses 38-40 outside; 19: 1-3 inside verses 4-7 outside; verses 8-11 inside; verses 12-16 outside (Westcott).
336John 18:28. - "That they might eat the Passover." The difficulty about the last Passover, already discussed in a note on Mark 14:12, and touched on here in connection with the opening words of chapter 13, is dealt with by the expositor in a long note on John 19:14, where the view is taken that it was allowable to partake of the paschal meal within the twenty-four hours of the same technical day. And so Milligan, who supposes that the Jews' celebration was interrupted. Cf. Bernard, pp. 49-54. It may have been to secure strict compliance with primitive usage that the rubric in the Talmudic treatise Zebbach (verse 2) was afterwards framed. Delitzsch (in Riehm) questions the explanation given by Dr. John Lightfoot, the learned Rabbinic scholar of the seventeenth century, who says that the Evangelist here adopts the popular language - i.e., speaks of the Chagigah, or peace-offermg ("Works," ii. 670). Zahn, however, is of opinion that Lightfoot was probably right, and that the day here intended was the fifteenth of Nisan ("Introduction," ii., p. 514; Exposition, p. 622 f.). The learned Erlangen professor remarks that φαγεῖν is used for celebration, and that the standing expression for the fourteenth day of Nisan was ποιεῖν. Cf. "This do in remembrance of Me"; Exodus 12:48, Numbers 9:2, Deuteronomy 16:1; Matthew 26:18; Hebrews 11:28. Note that Numbers 28:16-18 (as Lev., see note on Mark) distinguishes between the paschal meal and "the Feast." See, further, Khodadad, p. 20 f., and note 346 below (ad Irk.).
337John 18:32. - "It is not lawful for us," etc. According to the Talmud, it was in the year immediately preceding this that the Romans had deprived the Jews of execution of capital punishment - i.e., exactly "forty years" before the Fall of Jerusalem.
338John 18:37. - "King." See Luke 23:2, and cf. 1 Timothy 6:13, the "good confession."
"Of the truth": cf. 1 John 3:19 and 1 John 4:6, 1 John 5:19. "Of God," in the last references does not justify its being said that the terms are practically equivalent, as by Heitmüller (so Scott). See Exposition, p. 20.
339John 18:38 ff. - "I find no fault in Him at all." cf. Exodus 12:5; Deuteronomy 17:1; 1 Peter 1:19.
339a One of the latest crazes is to drag in here the Feast of Purim, so that Barabbas should represent Mordecai, and the role of Haman be taken by our Lord (Frazer, "Golden Bough," 3: 188-198). Even Benn hesitates to accept such a suggestion. Conjuring with the name of the Jewish anarchist cannot be a self-satisfying, to say nothing of a creditable, service to society, for either an authority on folk-lore or a writer of romance.
And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
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 Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.
And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.
Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?
Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.
And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.
One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?
Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.
Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?
They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.
Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:
That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.
Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?
Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?
Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.
But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.