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John  ◦   Chapter 18

1When he had finished talking with his Father, Jesus with his disciples crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side was an olive grove on a mount, and they went into it.

2Judas, the one who betrayed Jesus, was familiar with the place in the grove, as Jesus would often retire there with his disciples.3So Judas led a detachment of soldiers and representatives of the chief priests and Pharisees, who came carrying weapons, torches, and lanterns.

4Jesus, knowing people's decisions before they are made, was not taken by surprise and went out to meet the mob, asking, "Who are you looking for?"

5"Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "I am he," Jesus answered. (And Judas, who preferred greed and selfishness to love, was standing there with them.)6When Jesus said, "I am he," for a brief moment the mob caught a glimpse of the radiance of Christ's true self, and being overcome with guilt and fear, fell to the ground.

7So he asked them again, "Who are you looking for?" And they answered, "Jesus of Nazareth."

8Jesus said, "I have already told you that I am he. If it is me you want, then let these men go."9This happened just as Jesus foreknew when he said "I have not lost one of those you gave me to instruct and heal."

10When Simon Peter saw the soldiers and others fall to the ground, he drew his sword and struck Malchus, the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear.

11But Jesus stepped forward and commanded Peter, "Put away your sword! Don't you realize my methods are not the methods of force and coercion? If they were, I could call my Father and he would send more than twelve legions of angels. But if I did that, how could I reveal the truth about myself and my Father? The weapons that we use are the weapons of truth, spoken in love, leaving people free to decide for themselves. Don't you want me to complete the mission my Father has sent me to accomplish?"

12Then the soldiers with their commander and Jewish officials, angry at themselves for falling to the ground, shook off their conviction and arrested Jesus. They tied his hands.13and brought him to Annas, the former high priest, who was the father-in-law of that year's high priest, Caiaphas.14Caiaphas was the one who advised those plotting to kill Jesus that it would be better for one man to die than for them to lose their positions, and for the entire nation to be destroyed.

15Simon Peter and John were following as the soldiers took Jesus away. Because John was known to Caiaphas and his household, he was allowed into the high priest's courtyard when Jesus was taken there.16Peter had to wait outside at the door, but John came back and spoke to the girl at the door and got Peter admitted.

17The girl at the door looked at Peter and said, "You are one of his disciples, aren't you?" Peter lied and said, "I am not."

18It was a cool night, and the servants and officials warmed themselves around a fire they had made; Peter also warmed himself around the fire.

19While Peter was warming himself, the high priest interrogated Jesus about his teaching, mission, and disciples.

20Jesus answered by saying, "Everything I have taught, I did openly so all could hear. I always taught in the synagogues or at the temple, in front of large crowds. My teachings are well known. I have nothing to hide and I do not work in secret.21So why are you interrogating me like this? All you need to do is ask the thousands of people who heard me. They know what I have said."

22Upon hearing Jesus' reply, one of the officials hit him in the face and said, "Is this the way you speak to the high priest?"

23Jesus calmly and gently answered, "If I said something wrong, show me what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you hit me?"24Then Annas had Jesus sent, still bound, to Caiaphas, the high priest.

25As Simon Peter stood warming himself by the fire, someone asked him, "Aren't you one of Jesus' disciples?" Peter again lied and said, "I am not."

26But one of the high priest's servants, who was related to Malchus — the man whose ear Peter had cut off — confronted him: "I saw you in the grove. You cut off Malchus' ear. I know you are one of his disciples."27Then Peter began to curse and swear, and for the third time denied knowing Jesus. At that moment the rooster began to crow.

28The Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of Pilate, the Roman governor. By this time it was early Friday morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness (so that they could eat Passover), they refused to enter the palace.29So Pilate came outside to meet with them and asked, "Why have you brought this man before me? What do you accuse him of doing?"

30The Jews didn't want to tell him the truth, so they simply said, "If he were not a criminal, we would not have brought him before you."

31Pilate said, "Don't bother me with this. Take him and judge him by your own law." The Jews objected and said, "But we are not permitted to execute anyone."32This happened exactly as Jesus foretold, indicating again that Jesus knows people's decisions before they make them, yet never restricts their freedom to make their own choices.

33Pilate then went back into his palace and had Jesus brought to him. He asked, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

34Jesus' heart longed to save Pilate, and in an attempt to open his mind to the truth, he asked, "Are you asking me this because you have some question about me, or are you simply repeating what others have told you?"

35However, Pilate was too fearful and insecure to be open and honest with Jesus, so he answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own people and religious leaders have condemned you and seek your execution. I am only concerned with whether you deserve to die or not. So, what is it you have done?"

36Jesus gently replied, "My kingdom is not here on this earth, nor does it use methods of force and coercion. If it did, my followers would fight to prevent my arrest and execution. But my kingdom is from another place and of completely different principles, values, and methods."

37"So you are a king!" Pilate exclaimed. Jesus answered, "You are quite right to realize I am a king. In fact, I was born into the world to reveal the truth about my kingdom and my kingship, and bring back into my kingdom all those who value truth. Everyone who loves truth follows me."

38"What is truth?" Pilate mumbled, and without giving Jesus time to answer, he turned and went out to meet the Jews. He said to them, "I have interrogated him and find no basis for your charge against him.39I know it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of Passover. Why don't I release Jesus, 'the king of the Jews'?"

40But the crowd was in a frenzy to kill Jesus and shouted back, "No! We want Barabbas!" They wanted Barabbas even though he was a murderer and part of a rebellion against Rome.