Sunday 24 March 2024


Turn with me to John’s gospel from Chapter 18 through to Chapter 19,  This is a long story.

First verses 1-27.

We begin when Jesus had finished praying, he left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley.  On the other side there was a garden of Gethsemane, and he and his disciples went into it.

Judas, who betrayed him knew the place, because Jesus had met there with his disciples, So Judas came to the garden guiding  a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees, They were carrying lanterns, torches and weapons, for they expected Jesus would be hiding in the garden.


Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, who is it you want?  Jesus of Nazareth, they replied. I am he, Jesus said. (Judas the traitor was standing there  with them) When Jesus said, I am he, they drew back and fell to the ground

 Again he asked them, who is it you want, and again they replied Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus answered I told you I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.  This happened so that the words spoken would be fulfilled. ‘I have not lost one of those you gave me’

 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant cutting off the right ear. 

 Jesus commanded Peter, put your sword away.  Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?

 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander, and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas. The high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.

 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter had to wait at the outer door, The other disciple who was known to the high priest came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there, and brought Peter in.

‘You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you’, she asked Peter. He replied I am not

 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood round the fire they had made to keep warm. Peter was also standing there.

 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples, and his teaching, Jesus said. ‘I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues or the temple, where all the Jews come together.  I said nothing secret, why question me. Ask those who hear me. Surely they know what I said’.

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. Is this the way you answer the high priest? He demanded

 Jesus said,’ if I did something wrong, testify to what was wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me’ ? Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas, the high priest.

 Peter is twice more asked if he was with Jesus, and on each occasion  denied him. At that moment, the rooster began to crow.

 This has formed the first part of the story. We see the Lord’s care for his disciples safety.  Even at a critical time, when his own sufferings are taking place, he did not forget his little band of believers. He remembers their weakness, and how little prepared they were to go into the judgement hall.

We also see how Jesus submitted fully to his Father’s will. In this blessed frame of mind, there is a pattern for all who profess and call themselves Christians.

 Moving on from v 28, the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning  and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness, it being a Gentile palace, they did not enter the palace, for they wanted to eat at the Passover  festival. So Pilate came out and asked them, what charges are you brining against him?

 If he were a criminal they replied, we would not have  handed him over to you.  Pilate answered, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him by your own laws’. The said  that they have no right to execute anyone.  This was to fulfil what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.

 Pilate went back into his office and summoned Jesus. ‘Are you the king of the Jews? he asked him. ‘ Is that your idea. or did others talk about me?’

 ‘Am I a Jew?’ Pilate replied, ‘Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me, what is it you have done?’  Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it  were my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders.  But my kingdom is from another place.’

 ‘You are a king then’, Pilate said.  Jesus answered ,’You say that I am a king. In fact the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me’.

 Jesus had no hope of justice, in view of what he was facing, men who were engaged on an evil way. They cannot do anything by fair mans, so they feel entitled to do so through evil means.

 At this time the Jews were subject to Rome, who allowed them a good deal of government, but they had no authority to carry out the death penalty. What belonged to the Romans were taken away from Israel.  If the jews had have been allowed the death penalty, it would have been by stoning. Their law laid down that blaspheming the Lord, shall be put to death, and all the congregation would stone the culprit.

 The Jews from start to finish were seeking to use Pilate for their purposes, seeing that they could not kill Jesus. So they were determined to have the Romans do it for them.  They began hating Jesus, but they finished in a hysteria of hatred. They became a maddened crowd, shrieking like wolves, with faces of bitterness shouting crucify him.  In the end, they came to an insanity that lost all reason, and all judgment was lost.  Hatred destroys a person’s senses.

 You are a king then, Pilate said.  Jesus answered ,You say that I am a king. In fact the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me

 Pilate felt sorry for Jesus an did not want to harm him.  The reason he did not challenge  the Jews was because in earlier days he acted in disputes, in which he was considered to have acted wrongly, so to avoid the prospect of the Jews complaining to Rome, which might have led to his dismissal, he went along with them.

 Moving into Chapter 19,

Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. This was totally superfluous, considering he was going to be crucified.  A belt is  fitted with metal studs which cut into the body and is used 39 times.

 A crown of thorns was placed on his head, the thorns causing blood to flow on to his face. He was mocked and slapped by the soldiers, and a purple cloak was thrown over his body. Again, mocking by calling him king of the Jews. When the Jews saw him, Pilate said to them, ‘here is the man’.

 Once more, Pilate anxious to avoid crucifixion, said to the Jews, I am bringing him out to you  as I find no basis for a charge against him. The Jewish leaders insisted. We have a law, and according to that law, he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God.

 When Pilate heard this, he became more frightened, and went back into his palace.  Where do you come from, he asked Jesus, but Jesus did not give him an answer. Do you refuse topeak to me? Pilate said, ‘Don’t you know I have the power to release you or crucify you?’

 Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin’.

 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, if you let this man go you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar

 When Pilate heard this, he brought out Jesus, and sat down on the judgement seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement.  It was the day of preparation for the Passover about noon.

 Here is your king. Pilate said.  They shouted take him away. Crucify him.  Shall I crucify your king?, Pilate asked. We have no king but Caesar the chief priests answered.

 Finally, Pilate hand him over to be crucified

 So the soldiers took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the skull known as Golgotha.  There they crucified him with two others, one on each side of him.

 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the Cross. It read

JESUS OF NAZARETH KING OF THE JEWS. Many Jews read this sign which was written Aramaic, Latin and Greek.  The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate. Do not write king of the Jews, but this man claimed, to be king of the Jews. Pilate answered  what I have written I have written.

 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one or each of them, with the under garment remaining.  This garment was seamless, worn in one piece from top to bottom. Let us not tear it, they said to one another, let us decide by lot who will get it.

 This happened that scripture might be fulfilled that said,

‘They divided my clothes among men and cast lots for my garment’.

 Near the Cross of Jeus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary he wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdelene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said, ‘Woman, there is your son.’, and to the disciple, ’here is your mother’. From that time on, the disciple took her into his own home.  (John was the disciple )

                                   The death of Jesus  

Later, knowing all had finished and so that the Scripture may be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty’_ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it. Put the sponge on a stalk of a hyssop plant, and lifted to the lips of Jesus.  When he had received the drink, he said, ‘It is finished’.  He bowed his head and gave up his spirit,

 The next day was to be a special  Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.  The soldiers broke the legs of  the first man to be crucified, and those of the other man, but when they came to Jesus and found he was dead, they did not break his legs, instead one soldier pierced his side with a spear, bringing a flood  of blood and water.  These things happened to fulfil Scripture.


                             The Burial of Jesus

Later Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. He was a disciple of Jesus. But secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. He took the body away accompanied by Nicodemus, who brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy pounds. They took the body and wrapped it with the spices  in strips pf linen in accordance with Jewish customs,

 At the place there was a garden in which there was a tomb which no one had never been laid. Because it was the day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

 Let us always remember that our blessed Lord suffered and died of his own free will. He could have escaped, but as in all his life he gladly gave himself for us.  He cam to earth to die, and to die so that all who faithfully believed in him, could have their sins forgiven by the penalty he paid for on the Cross. This is why God sent him, and by his life he obtained glory for himself and God was glorified.

 Jesus bore the hardness of so many men. Soldiers, Jewish leaders who were devoid of any sympathy but determined to have nothing but the Lord’s death.

 We should admire the love of Christ, which Paul stated passes all understanding. There is no earthly love which can compare, and no standard by which to measure . Anyone who can read this without a deep sense of  debt to Christ, must have a very cold or thoughtless heart.  As he walked to the Cross, humble without any wish to avoid going. Beaten to near death before being nailed to the Cross, naked to forgive the sins of so many people who will still expect more from him, without giving an hour of their time to attend services of praise for him.

 Christians must come out of the world, and be willing to stand and take up your cross when necessary.  Be prepared to speak out when you see the Bible disregarded in order to please those who will never give a minute of their life to Christ.

 Even in the agony of body and soul, Jesus remembered his mother. He knew that holy as she was, she was still a mother who was seeing her son in such circumstances. 

 In conclusion, amidst such sadness, let us take comfort from knowing we have a Saviour of matchless sympathy and consideration for his believing people. His words to close, whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, sister and mother  Jesus never forgets any that love him.


May God bless his words to our hearts and his Holy Name be praised and glorified.

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