Jesus Before Pilate

John 18:28-32 Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring you against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take you him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spoke, signifying what death he should die. 

‘Let they Jesus from Caiaphas’ Jesus was led by the mob to Annas (18:13); by the mob to Caiaphas (Matt. 26:57; Mark 14:53; Luke 22:54; John 18:24); by the Jews to Pilate (Matt. 27:2; Luke 23:1; John 18:28); by soldiers to Herod (Luke 23:7); by soldiers to Pilate again (Luke 23:11-25); by soldiers to be scourged and mocked (Mark 15:16-19); by soldiers to be crucified (Matt. 27:31; Mark 15:20; Luke 23:26, 32; John 19:16).

‘The hall of judgment’ Pilate’s house, called the Praetorium, the dwelling place of the praetor, the chief ruler of the province. It was where he held court (Mark 15:16).

‘Early’ it was early in the day of preparation, from our Tuesday sunset to Wednesday sunset. It was perhaps between 11:00 p.m. to midnight, for a little later it was the 6th hour or midnight (19:14).

‘Passover’ Jesus had eaten of the passover before the time (Matt. 26:18-20; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-15), and was Himself slain at the time of the offering of the paschal lamb (1Cor. 5:7).

‘Pilate then went out unto them’ he went out to them lest they be defiled by coming into him. The Romans had agreed to permit the Jews the free use of their rites and ceremonies, so this was all Pilate could do.

‘Malefactor’ the Greek word kakopoios which means evildoer. They did not want Pilate to judge, but to execute the sentence they had already illegally passed. Pilate was not willing to execute a man whom he had not tried and who was not guilty, so offered to turn Jesus over to them for execution (John 18:31).

‘It is not lawful for us to put any man to death’ this was another sin of the Jews. They had the power to stone anyone breaking their law (8:1-11, 59; 10:31; Acts 7:59), but in this case, they lied and, fearing the people, determined to raise the plea of rebellion against Caesar, throwing the responsibility of the Lord’s death upon Pilate (19:7, 12). He had to die by crucifixion to fulfil prophecy (Matt. 20:19; 26:2; John 3:14; 12:32-33). Jews did not crucify and they had no power to do so with criminals that were accused of crimes against the state, so they intimidated Pilate by accusing him of not being a friend of Caesar if he let Christ go (19:7, 12).

Peter’s Denial

John 18:12-18, 25-27 Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spoke unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. Then said the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Are not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He said, I am not. And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Are not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, said, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew. 

‘Captain’ the Greek word chiliarchos – the commander of 1,000 men; one of 6 tribunes attached to a legion, showing the importance the Romans attached to the arrest of Jesus, the Jews have represented it as a dangerous case of sedition.

‘Annas’ – he was perhaps the head of the Sanhedrin. He had been appointed high priest several times and had five sons and a son-in-law who had held this office. ‘Same year’ the office was no longer for life, as originally. Now it was by appointment by civil rulers and not by God.

‘He, which gave counsel to the Jews’ – he had already passed sentence that Jesus should be killed (11:49-52), hence he was disqualified to be His judge. But Christ was not tried by rules of justice or He would not have been crucified.

‘That disciple’ perhaps John himself who always refers to himself in the third person (13:23; 19:26; 21:7, 20). Or it could have been Nicodemus or Joseph (19:38).

‘Damsel that kept the door’ tradition says her name was Ballila. Women were doorkeepers (Acts 12:13). ‘Are not thou also one of this man’s disciples? I am not.’ first of three lies (18:17, 18:25-26). In verse 27 the third lie and denial of Jesus are stated.

‘They’ the officers and servants of the high priest, the Roman Chiliarch and his soldiers had gone back to the barracks, leaving Jesus in the hands of the Jews.

‘Warmed himself’ – a dangerous thing to do – to warm one’s self by the fire of his enemies.

Twelve steps in Peter’s backsliding from Matthew: he boasted (Matt. 26:33; Pro. 16:18); he made Christ a liar (Matt. 26:33-35); he slept instead of praying (Matt. 26:40); he failed to mortify his flesh (Matt. 26:41); he relied on the arm of flesh (Matt. 26:51); he forsook Christ and fled (Matt. 26:56); he followed afar off (Matt. 26:58); he sat with the Lord’s enemies (Matt. 26:58); he gave up hope and became discouraged (Matt. 26:58); he became afraid of men (Matt. 26:69-74); he lied (Matt. 26:69-74); and he cursed (Matt. 26:69-74).  Jesus had predicted his backsliding and his re-conversion (Luke 22:31-34).

He Has Overcome

John 16:25-33 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. At that day you shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speak thou plainly, and speak no proverb. Now are we sure that thou know all things, and need not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou came forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do you now believe? Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that you shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 

Jesus spoke in proverbs to the disciples; He gave them instruction by numerous examples and divine rules to govern all of their conduct – civil, religious, and business life. Afterwards, He spoke to them plainly of the Father.

‘That I will pray the Father for you’ – we pray and Jesus will make intercession for us (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25; 1Jn. 2:1-2). If we will pray and have faith, the Father will never deny us what we want. He always hears His Son and if He did not spare Him in sufferings and death He will not refuse to give us what Christ died for to give to us (Rom. 8:32). When we pray in Jesus name or by His authority the Father will always hear and answer, because this is what He sent Jesus to tell the disciples [and us], so let this be a settled fact in our lives.

Jesus told the disciples that He came from the Father into the world; and will leave the world and go back to the Father. They understood Him clearly and declared that He knows all things and that He was sent from the Father to teach them [and us].

The 40th New Testament prophecy fulfilled in John: Jesus warned the disciples that a time shall come when they will be scattered, every man to his own, and they shall leave Him alone: this was fulfilled the night of His arrest (Matt. 26:56; Zech. 13:7). Jesus comforted them so that they might have peace when the arrest took place, by saying that He will not be alone because the Father will be with Him. He furthermore warned them that they will have tribulation in the world, but they must be of good cheer; for He has overcome the world.  ‘Overcome’ the Greek word nikao which means conquered.

Being Convicted

John 8:3-11 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. 

The scribes and Pharisees attempted, yet again, to snare Jesus to arrest Him by bringing a woman that was taken in adultery. Had He contradicted Moses (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22-24), He would have been condemned as a false prophet. Had He condemned the woman to death He would have been accused to the Romans as usurping authority, so He merely wrote on the ground as if He did not hear them. When they continued to ask, He told them that the sinless ones should first cast a stone. It is not recorded what He wrote on the ground.

Capital punishment by stoning was lawful (Ex. 19:13; Deut. 13:10; 17:5; 22:21). The Jewish method of execution was to cast the criminal from a 10 or 12 feet scaffold half-naked, with hands tied in the back. The witnesses did the pushing with great force and if this did not kill him a witness then would take a large stone and dash it upon the breast. On occasions where mobs stoned a man no scaffold was used, but certain accusers threw the first stones and then all could throw until the victim was dead (Num. 15:36; Jos. 7:25; 1Kings 21:13; Acts 7:58-59; 14:19; 2Cor. 11:25).

Conscience is a wonderful thing. It is the faculty that decides the lawfulness of our actions as to right and wrong (Rom. 2:12-16). The causes of their conviction was their own evil designs against Him, not so much against her; their failure to include the man who was guilty with the woman; what Christ wrote on the ground; the challenge to start throwing if they were sinless themselves; their hypocrisy which was known to Christ and others present; and their guilt of committing the same sin (Rom. 2:1).

As they were convicted by their own consciences, they, her accusers, started to depart, leaving the woman in the midst of the disciples and others who were present.

Jesus did not say He did not condemn adultery as a sin. He simply forgave the woman, as He had done others who were sinful (Matt. 9:1-8; Luke 7:37-50). He was not a magistrate and since no man of her accusers stayed to condemn, He was not going to pass sentence on the woman, taking it upon Himself to execute the law of Moses. He had to avoid the Jews accusing Him of taking magisterial authority in His own hands. Then, too, Christ came to save men, not to destroy them, so forgiveness of her sin was as much His obligation then as it still is when anyone repents and turns from sin (Matt. 12:31-32; 1Jn. 1:9). He frankly told her to sin no more, proving He did condemn adultery as a sin. He did so elsewhere (Matt. 5:27-32; 19:9, 18-19).

Can This Be the Christ?

John 7:25-31 Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speak boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man know whence he is. Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, You both know me, and you know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom you know not. But I know him: for I am from him, and he has sent me. Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ come, will he do more miracles than these which this man has done? 

The question arose under the people if Jesus was not the one whom the Pharisees seek to kill because He spoke with such wisdom and authority; and if the rulers would indeed know that He (Jesus) is the very Christ (the anointed)?

The Rabbis taught from Isaiah 53:8 that when the Messiah would be born He would hide Himself and that when He appeared no man would know from whence He had come. They had a proverb, “Three things come unexpectedly: a thing found by chance, the sting of a scorpion, and the Messiah.”

Isaiah 53:8 reads that “he was cut off out of the land of the living,” not that He would hide Himself.

Christ answered in verse 28 and 29 their argument by saying that since they know Him and know where He came from, they should add to their knowledge that He did not come of Himself and was no self-appointed prophet. He came from God whom He knew, but whom the Rabbis did not know.

They then wanted to arrest Him, but no man was able to touch Him until His time (to be crucified) has come. God’s power backed up by innumerable angels would not allow Him to be arrested at this time (Matt. 26:53; Luke 22:53; John 18:6).

Many of the people believed He was the Christ because of the miracles He has done.

Will You Also Go Away?

John 6:64, 66-71 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will you also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

Jesus knew from the beginning of His ministry who they were that did not believe in Him not, and who was to betray Him. Jesus knew two things from the beginning of His ministry. Many disciples went back – left Christ and did not follow Him anymore – but not the twelve for He asked: “Will you twelve also abandon Me?”

Peter answered that they had no one else to go to, that Christ alone had the words of eternal life, that Jesus was the Christ and that Christ was the Son of the living God. This kind of confession brings the new birth (1Jn. 5:1)

Christ chose the twelve when they were eager to follow Him and they were seeking to hear God’s will. ‘One of you is a devil’ – Here it reveals Judas as an adversary of Christ and under the influence of a devil (demon) and not as some say that he was satan.

Judas Iscariot was an ordinary man, the son of Simon (John 12:4; 13:2, 26); a genuine chosen and empowered apostle (Matt. 10:1-20; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:12-16; 9:1-10; Acts 1:17); the one carrying the purse of the disciples (John 12:4-6; 13:29); and a successful teacher and healer (Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:10). He was named “Iscariot,” meaning “man of Kerioth,” a place in Judah (Jos. 15:25). He became a “thief” and an “adversary” of Christ late in His ministry (John 6:70; 12:4-6). He betrayed Jesus (Matt. 26:14-16, 47-50; Mark 14:10-11, 43-45; Luke 22:3-6, 47-49; John 13:2; 18:2-5; Acts 1:16-25), returned the money to the chief priests (Matt. 27:3-10), committed suicide and is lost (Matt. 26:24; 27:5; Mark 14:21; Luke 22:22; John 17:12; Acts 1:16-25). There are prophecies concerning him (Matt. 26:21-25; Mark 14:18-21; Luke 22:21-23; John 13:18-26; 17:12; Acts 1:16, 20; Psa. 41:9; 69:25; 109:8; Zech. 11:12-13).

Work the Works of God

John 6:28-29 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he hath sent.

‘Work the works of God’ – we are commanded to let men see our good works and glorify God (Matt. 5:16) and to show faith by works (Jas. 1:22-27; 2:9-26). People “zealous of good works” are the only kind that is redeemed (Tit. 2:11-14). A desire to do miracles is not sinful if the motive is right. There can be a right and a wrong motive behind everything and a right and wrong way to do everything. Lucifer (Isa. 14:12-14) and Adam (Gen. 3:1-14) had a noble desire to be like God, but the motive behind it and the methods they used were sinful. One should desire this more than his necessary food, but he must go about it the way Christ set the example – by emptying Himself (Php. 2:5-11). Jesus did not rebuke even these selfish people for wanting miraculous power. He gave them the only true answer.

This answer to the question of what to do to work the works of God is the clearest one possible. It gives the sum total of all answers to the question. It has been so lightly passed over and limited in meaning to a mere faith that Jesus is the Son of God and to forgiveness of sins only. How far from the whole truth this is! Faith and forgiveness are a part of what is referred to, but not all. Receiving the power from on high to “work the works of God” is included (Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:49; John 14:12).

Everlasting Life

John 6:26-27 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, You seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because you did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 

The next day, the crowd from the previous day saw that there was no other boat there, except the one His disciples entered with, and that Jesus did not go with His disciples in the boat, but that His disciples left alone. When they, therefore, saw that Jesus was not there, neither His disciples, they also went to Capernaum by ship, seeking Jesus.

When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they asked Him when He came over. Jesus answered them that they seek Him not because they saw miracles, but because He gave them food and they ate; not as being convinced by visible miracles, which should lead godly men to acknowledge Him as Messiah, but as by appetite, which leads sensual men like beasts through the impulse of want and supply.

We get eternal life now and keep it forever if we meet the following conditions: Come to Christ (John 6:37, 44, 45, 65); know God and Christ (John 17:2-3); cause no offense (Matt. 18:8-9); forsake all (Matt. 19:27-29; Mark 10:28-30); overcome sin (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21); live free from sin (Rom. 5:21; 6:16-23; 8:1-13; Tit. 2:11-14); fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on it (1Tim. 6:12, 19); be sober and hope to the end for it (Tit. 1:2; 3:7; 1Pet. 1:5, 9, 13); endure temptations (Jas. 1:12); love everybody (1Jn. 3:14-15); keep yourself in the love of God, looking for eternal life (Jude 1:20-24); be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 12:14-15); believe and obey the gospel (John 3:15-19, 36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40, 47, 54; 2Cor. 5:17; Rom. 1:5); be born again, hear Christ, and follow Him (John 3:1-36; 10:27-29).

BUT eternal life does not become an unforfeitable eternal possession until we enter into it (Matt. 7:13; 18:8-9; 19:17; Rom. 6:22); receive it (Rom. 6:23; Jas. 1:12; 1Pet. 1:13; Rev. 2:10); reap it (Gal. 6:7-8); and inherit it in the world to come (Matt. 19:27-29; Mark 10:28-30; Luke 18:28-30), and at the end of this life (Rom. 6:22).

‘Him has God the Father sealed’ – confirmed by giving Him the Holy Spirit without measure (John 3:33-34).

Made Whole

John 5:9-18 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterwards Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

The man obeyed Christ by ‘rising-up’ and was healed even before he took his bed and walked. It was on the sabbath and it was unlawful to carry anything from a public place to a private place, and vice versa and thus the Rabbis asked him who told him to take up his bed and walk? He answered them that it was ‘He that made me whole.’

When they questioned him more on the Healer’s identity, he could not answer them, because he did not know that it was Jesus and because Jesus withdrew from the multitude that was in that place. He knew the hatred of the leaders and the result of His breaking their man-made laws.

Afterwards, Jesus found him in the temple, and said unto him, ‘Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’ Sin always brings back the curse (sickness and disease – Pro. 26:2).

The man told the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him and it brought persecution because it was done on a sabbath. God hated sabbaths and predicted He would do away with them (Isa. 1:13-15; Hos. 2:11). God hates any law, ritual, or form of religion that violates good and exalts pride and hypocrisy.

The Harvest

John 4:35-39 Say not you, There are yet four months, and then come harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reap receive wages, and gather fruit unto life eternal: that both he that sow and he that reap may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One sow, and another reap. I sent you to reap that whereon you bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and you are entered into their labours. And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 

The harvest began after the Passover in April, so the four months before this would be in December. ‘Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.’ This refers to the Samaritans that were coming out of the city to hear Him. The harvest of souls was already at hand, produced in one day. The lesson is that we are not to sit and wait four months for spiritual harvests; we can have an immediate harvest of the seed sown by living out God’s love to us indeed (by our example) and not through our words (1 Jn. 3:18) in our daily dealings with others.

Christ had sown the seed in the woman and had already received wages of gratification of saving souls. He had sown and gathered fruit unto life eternal the same day, so the sower and the reaper, who here were one and the same person, rejoiced over the harvest of that day (comp. 1Cor. 3:6-9).

Verse 38 simply states that Christ had sent the disciples out to reap benefits of the labours and to carry on the work of the prophets and others before them, including Himself and John the Baptist. They had already baptized many and had preached and healed many (Matt. 10:1-42; Luke 9:1-62; 10:1-42; John 4:2). ‘Believed on him’ – This brings the new birth and eternal life (John 3:15-18; 1Jn. 5:1).

There is no proof that the woman was a prostitute. Her five husbands could have died, or they could have legally divorced her, for divorce then was easy to get. Men divorced for “every cause” (Matt. 19:1-12). It was not always that Deuteronomy 24:1 applied: “and it comes to pass that she find no favour in his eyes because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement.” Rabbis now ignored this, giving divorces for minor causes. Whether the Samaritan allowed divorce or repeated widowhood is not known. The one “whom thou now hast” may have only been under contract to her and they had not yet come together as man and wife (John 4:18).