Meeting Pilate – John 17-18

In chapter 17, Jesus prays first for himself (verses 1-5), for His disciples (verses 6-19), and then for all believers to come (verses 20-26). He states in verse 4 that He has glorified God on earth “having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (meaning that He did not fail to setup His kingdom as some have claimed – or anything else for that matter). He gave up the glory that He had with God since before the world existed (verse 5), and now asks God to glorify Him in His presence (after the resurrection), which will also achieve the result of the Son glorifying the Father.

As He prays for His disciples, He notes in verse 12 that He has guarded them and not one has been lost other than “the Son of destruction” (Judas) – which fulfilled the Scripture (Psalm 41:9):

“Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.”

Verses 6, 11 and 26’s use of God’s name is the manifestation of His character and will that Jesus made known to them through His teaching and His actions. In verses 20-26, He prays for all who believe in Him, so that they may be with Him to see the the glory that He had “before the foundation of the world” (for all eternity). Those who believe know that God sent Him. They will know God through the Son; and the love God has for His son will be in them through Jesus.

Having finished the Farewell discourse, including His prayer, Jesus and His disciples went across the Kidron brook into a garden in chapter 18. John does not identify Gethsemane as Matthew and Mark do (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32). But he does say in verse 2 that Judas knew the place where Jesus would be because He often met there with His disciples. And we know from several scriptures (Luke 21:37 and Luke 22:39, for example) that it was His custom to go to the Mount of Olives at night. Knowing that this was the time, Jesus came forward to the soldiers and officers of the Pharisees that Judas had brought. Much commentary has been written about verse 6 (“When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground”) – but we just do not know exactly what happened there. Clearly however, this was a significant response that we would not have expected from Jesus’ captors. But it really does seem appropriate for the Son of God at this hour in His life.

Verses 15-17 contain the account of Peter’s denial. Though we are not told, the “other disciple” mentioned in verses 15-16 is probably John himself (the disciple that Jesus loved – as in John 20:2). John is the only one of the four gospels that gives us the account of Jesus going first to Annas. He had been High Priest from 6-15 A.D., but had been deposed by Valerius Gratus, the former Roman prefect of Judea (Josephus Antiquities 18.26, 34, 95). But the position stayed in the family – currently his son-in-law, Caiaphas. Since the position had traditionally been one that was life-long, Annas was still considered a High Priest by many Jews. Jesus was then taken to Caiaphas. John does not record the events of that encounter, but the synoptic gospels do (Matthew 26:57-68, Mark 14:53-65, and Luke 22:66-71). It was Caiaphas that had suggested that Jesus should die back in John 11:49-51.

From there, Jesus was taken to the praetorium – the Roman governor’s residence – to appear before Pilate. In verse 31, Pilate wants them to “judge him by your own law.” But the Roman government had supposedly taken away the Sanhedrin’s right to capital punishment (though clearly they exercised exceptions to this, as with Stephen in Acts 7:57-60), and they wanted Him put to death. Besides, as verse 32 reminds us, it was the Roman method of execution that would fulfill the scripture (Isaiah 52:13, John 12:32-33). When Pilate speaks with Jesus asking what He had done and whether He was a kink, Jesus lays aside all doubt as to what type of Kingdom He had come to establish in verse 36:

“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

Pilate still tries to avoid the responsibility for their blood lust, but he lacks the courage to go against the crowd. So he offers to free either Jesus or the known criminal Barabbas, no doubt thinking they would choose the latter.

But such was not to be. Jesus took the place of all of us, including Barrabas.

/Bob’s boy

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

John 16, John 17, John 18, John 19, John 20


some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.






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