SUMMARY.--Jesus in Gethsemane. Judas and the Band. The Lord Seized. Peter Uses the Sword. Christ Before Annas. Peter Denies His Master. Christ Sent to Caiaphas. Delivered to Pilate. His Kingdom Not of This World. Barabbas Chosen Instead of Christ.
1. He went . . . over the brook Cedron. It flows through the valley east of Jerusalem between the city and the Mount of Olives. They went to Gethsemane.
2-14. Judas . . . knew the place. For notes on the Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus, see Matt. 26:47-58. Compare Mark 14:43-54; Luke 22:47-54. They went backward, and fell to the ground. This statement of John is omitted by the other gospels. As Christ answers them, either his majesty and their own terror so impressed them, that, awed, they fell backward to the earth, or his divine power was exerted to prostrate them. Then the Lord submitted himself "as a lamb to the slaughter," and his power is not again exerted until he rises from the tomb, except to heal the smitten servant of the high priest.
28-40. For notes on the trial before Pilate, see Matt. 27:1-25. Compare Mark 15:1-15; Luke 23:1-25. The first examination was at the house of Annas, where an officer had smitten Jesus. Then Annas sent him to Caiaphas. Still later he was tried before the Sanhedrim (see Matt. chap. 27) and condemned. Then he was led from Caiaphas to Pilate's judgment hall. The judgment hall. The prætorium, or official hall of the Roman governor. Lest they should be defiled. These Jewish leaders, filled with the hate of Christ, and ready to secure his judicial murder by the foulest means, were yet so scrupulous that they would not enter the house of a Gentile lest "they should be defiled" (see Deut. 16:4), so that they would not be able to eat the passover. The Pharisees held that contact with a Gentile, or to enter his house was a source of defilement. Hence, this deputation of the Sanhedrim waited without, and Pilate "went out unto them" to ascertain their business. Men can be very religious and yet great sinners. That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled. Had the Jews been allowed to put Christ to death, he would have been stoned, as Stephen was, by a mob in Jerusalem, stoning being the usual Jewish method of execution, but he had "signified what death he should die" (John 12:32, and Matt. 20:18, 19) and had declared that he should be crucified.
36. My kingdom is not of this world. It would be hard for Pilate to form any conception of a kingdom not of this world, a kingdom of which the subjects did not fight with carnal weapons to defend its king, or to extend its borders. He was a soldier and the representative of a monarch whose power rested on the sword. But such a kingdom was Christ's. It was not of this world, did not spring from it, was heavenly in its origin, and hence his servants would not fight that he should not be delivered to the Jews. (1) Christ's kingdom is supernatural, not of human origin. It is in the world, but not worldly. (2) It is maintained, not by carnal weapons, but by spiritual and moral means.
37. Art thou a king then? If Christ has a kingdom he must be a King.
38. What is truth? Pilate's inquiry was not answered in words, but Truth sat embodied and bound before him. Some have held that this question of Pilate's was asked in scorn. His conduct through the trial shows that he was deeply impressed, and it is probable that the question was asked from a deep curiosity to hear more from so marvellous a teacher.
39-40. Ye have a custom. See notes on Matt. 27:15. He was eager to comply with the custom in order to release an innocent prisoner, but he had not measured the depths of the Jewish hate which could demand, instead, a robber and a murderer.