Insights into the Gospel of John: Chapter 18

By Lloyd Ellefson

This chapter deals with the nature of Jesus Christ's trial and the historical events leading to His crucifixion. Many accusations were hurled at Him. His responses contain spiritual truth. In this study we will not dwell on the historical aspects, but zero in on the spiritual aspects and revelation His words bring us!

After the prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus took the disciples over the ravine of the Kidron and into the garden. While the disciples slept, Jesus prayed fervently. Later He was met by Judas, officers from the chief priests and a Roman battalion of soldiers. What a delegation to take a non-resistant Jesus captive! Jesus told them that He was the one they were looking for. (v.5) He said this a second time in v. 8. "I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way."

Peter did not like what was happening. Being impetuous, he took his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest's slave. "So Jesus said to Peter, `Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?'" (v.11) Just before this encounter Jesus prayed, "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me." Jesus was not referring to a cup of wine. I believe the cup symbolizes the commission Christ had received from God; it was needful for Him to finish the task assigned to Him by the Father, regardless of the pain involved!

The cup we drink at communion is symbolic for us. When the communion service is brought into the realm of the Spirit, we participate in the life of Christ. Jesus is the bread of life, and His blood represents His soul. As we eat and drink, we participate in the Christ in one another, thus having communion. Though Christ is one bread, He has been broken, and now we are many. His Spirit has been poured out into our hearts. As we drink of His Spirit, we drink of His life, sustenance, revelation and illumination.

In reply to the request of James and John to sit at the right and left of Jesus in His glory, Jesus said, "Can you drink the cup which I will drink of? Can you be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said, "We can." Jesus did not deny that.

If we want to have communion with the Lord, we must follow Him in His progression of obedience - and this entails suffering. He had to come out of the law, be baptized, receive the anointing of the Spirit and hear the Father say, "You are My beloved Son." The Father also tells us that we are His sons. We have to grow up into His understanding, so we can communicate the will and purpose of the Father, and the things which natural man cannot conceive in his mind. This will bring persecution, suffering, and communion with Jesus in His suffering.

In Matthew 16 Peter received the revelation that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. This understanding had not come via his natural mind, but by revelation from the Father. In spite of the revelation Peter had received, he opposed Jesus and said He was not to suffer and die; Jesus had to rebuke him and say, "Get behind Me, Satan!" Peter also denied Jesus three times during the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.

All these denials took place after he had received the revelation that Jesus was the Christ. This was because he had not yet received the Holy Spirit, and this revelation had only come to the natural man. The Holy Spirit would bring him a new mind that would make him receptive to spiritual realities, and enable him to understand and internalize them, thus making them part of his life.

Much of Christianity is receiving revelation as Peter did. This revelation could not keep Peter when he was faced with the reality of identifying with Jesus Christ in the face of persecution - and it cannot keep us! Many people mistakenly think that the revelation knowledge which comes to the natural man can keep him. This knowledge does not have the ability to energize in the Spirit, so if we try to walk in it, we will experience failure as Peter did.

Jesus was captured and taken to Annas who began to question Him about His teaching. "Jesus answered him, `I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said.'" (vv.20-21) One of the officers did not like that, so he struck Jesus. Jesus challenged him and said, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me?" (v.23)

Jesus was totally innocent of all wrongdoing because He walked in the Spirit; He did whatever the Father said. But humanity saw Him in a different light. Israel, in its demonstration of natural humanity, did not have spiritual understanding and so was unable to obey the law. It had always opposed God and the prophets, and it also opposed the Christ whom God had sent to bring us into spiritual realization.

This is in evidence here as they took Christ by force, not because he had broken Roman laws, but simply because He disturbed the authority of the religious system in Israel. They were up in arms because He knew better than they did, and because He called God His Father, thereby declaring that He was the Son of God. They called this blasphemy.

The Jews generally killed guilty people by stoning, but in their estimation, stoning was too charitable a death for Jesus. Since the Jews were under the rule of the Roman government, they did not have the authority to crucify Him. God had declared that Jesus would be put to death by hanging from a pole - and His words always come true! Christ is the truth; and symbolically, truth was being crucified on that tree. This now takes place in the hearts and minds of people!

There probably is a relationship between the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis, and the fact that Jesus had to die by hanging on a tree. Truth was crucified when Adam and Eve listened to a voice other than God's voice, and obtained the knowledge of good and evil in delusion. In other words, the carnal, materialistic mind did not come from God. They received it when they rejected what God said, and obeyed another voice! The new voice said, "Eat of this tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and you will become like God." As they obeyed this voice, a delusion was birthed in them! Eating of that tree crucified the spiritual understanding that is in Christ - for Christ was slain from the disruption of the world!.

John the Baptist said, "Now the axe is laid to the root of the tree." This is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Laying an axe to the root of a tree implies total destruction. So when we are in Christ, there is a total destruction of the tree that cannot bear good fruit; its fruit cannot understand God nor receive the Christ.

Pilate said to Jesus, "`Are You the King of the Jews?' Jesus answered, `Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?' Pilate answered, `I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?'" (vv.33-35)

Jesus was always hated! When only a child, He had to be taken to Egypt to flee the wrath and jealousy of King Herod. Only after the king died could Jesus return to His native land. When His public ministry began, He was hated by the religious leaders who tried hard to catch Him in some misdeed in order to kill Him. God spared Him until His time of 42 months or 3 1/2 years was completed and the prophecies concerning Him were fulfilled. Then He was accused by His own nation, and had to stand before the godless governor of Rome to be judged by him.

"Jesus answered, `My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.'" (v.36) Since Christ's kingdom is not of this world, there must also be other worlds. Both John and James say that we are not to love the world. If we love the world we are enemies of God. Yet in John 3:16 it says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." Why can God love the world while we are not to love it? This looks like a contradiction until we see that there are different worlds. God loves the world in which righteousness dwells! Righteousness dwells in the kingdom of God!

The kingdom of Jesus Christ is not of THIS world. The world is a system of rule, and Christ is not ruling through this system. That is why the world is in the state it is in. If it were ruled by Christ, it wouldn't be like it is. The rule of Christ is entirely different. He does not rule through the flesh; He rules through the Spirit. The rule of Christ through the Spirit is foolishness to the world.

Since Christ's kingdom is not of this world, He is not bearing responsibility for the rule of this world and for the fruit it is bearing and manifesting. It does not come out of Christ; it is not from His realm. If we want to be ruled by Christ, we have to come out of this world system. The natural worldly system of scientific, intellectual thinking and the concepts of man cannot bring the world out of its dilemma.

If Christ's kingdom were of this world, His servants would fight to deliver Him. Since it isn't, we don't fight in the carnal realm. God does not support wars, nor take sides with any country or religion. If He doesn't, we shouldn't either. People are always praying that God should take their side, but we must be on His side. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal; they are mighty through God and able to tear down all strongholds!

"You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'. But I say to you, do not resist an evil your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you." (Matt. 5:38,39,44) Christ's rule is completely different from the world's system. He brings deliverance according to His rule! No wonder we have to be called out of this world, for we are under a different rule! Jesus Christ does not change. He rules those whom God has given Him, those who are chosen to come out of the world to be ruled in the kingdom of God.

"Therefore Pilate said to Him, `So You are a king?' Jesus answered, `You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.'" (v.37)

Jesus was born to be a king and to bear witness to the truth; He did not say He came to rule this world. The reason people do not hear His voice is because they are not of the truth. When Jesus bore witness to the truth, He brought an indictment on humanity because His truth was different from theirs. They were operating on a level of truth which was carnal, materialistic, natural and temporal. Everything man builds is temporal - not eternal. But Jesus has come to bring us eternal things: resurrection life and a day of the Lord which has no beginning and no end.

Sadly enough, our religious systems are comparable to the Jewish system which put everything into the context of natural thinking. I actually heard someone enquiring on the radio, "Do we go up in the rapture? What clothes do we wear, or don't we wear any?" Of course the speaker was quick to reply that we would be wearing white robes which don't have any stains on them and never wear out. To me this is carnal thinking dry out of the letter of the word, conceived in the carnal mind. That is not what Christ came to bring us!

"Pilate said to Him, `What is truth?' And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, `I find no guilt in Him'." (v.38) Jesus said, "I am the truth." That should settle it for us! He comes to us and brings us truth! The Word (Christ) is truth; the Word is also spirit and life, and comes out of God. When the Word has borne its fruit, it has accomplished its purpose! It returns to God as fruit, for His Word does not return void!

"`But you have a custom, that I release someone for you at the Passover; do you wish then that I release for you the King of the Jews?' So they cried out again, saying, `Not this Man, but Barabbas.' Now Barabbas was a robber." The Jews called for the crucifixion of Jesus. They preferred a common criminal to Christ! This is not only the mentality of the Jews or Israelites, but of all natural people, for they are all unregenerate and in opposition to God. That is why Jesus said that people must first learn from the Father before they can come to Him. These He will not reject; He will raise them up and they will become part of His flock, and He will keep them!

God bless you! Amen.

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