Chapters eighteen and nineteen cover approximately eighteen hours, from Jesus’ arrest in the garden to his death and burial. Possibly trying to show the rushed way it happened, John only briefly mentioned a series of seven events that happened in a matter of fewer than twelve hours.
First, in an amazing display of sovereignty, Jesus took his apostles to meet with Judas (John 18:1-11). When he identified himself, Judas’ mob fell away in terror. He negotiated that they would take him and allow the apostles to go free. Peter, who had already said he would stand with Jesus, struck out with his sword, injuring the high priest’s slave, but was rebuked by Jesus.
Second, Jesus was put on trial and interrogated by the high priest himself (John 18:12-14, 19-24). Interestingly, John noted that they questioned him “about his disciples and about his teaching” (John 18:19). His only response was that there were plenty of people who could answer those questions, because of his public teachings. This was also the beginning of Jesus’ physical torture, as an officer struck him in the face.
Meanwhile, third, while Jesus was being questioned, Peter was also being scrutinized (John 18:15-18, 25-27). Three times in a row he was recognized and identified as being one of Jesus’ followers. One person was even a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off. Each time he denied the association, then the rooster crowed as Jesus had said.
Fourth, Jesus was transferred to Pilate, the regional Roman governor, for questioning (John 18:28-32). Because the religious leaders insisted that they wanted Jesus executed (John 18:31), Pilate had to do an interview of his own. 1 Although he attempted to discover why they hated Jesus, he could not find any reason that Jesus deserved to die. He offered to pardon and release him, but they called for Barabbas’ release instead.
- The Jews did not have the authority to execute anyone while under Roman rule ↩