John 18:1-12

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 1) When our lord had spoken these words of comfort, instruction, and teaching concerning His death, departure, the disciples' future ministry (Chap. 13-16), and His priestly prayer, He went with His disciples over the Brook Cedron (II Sam. 15:23) into a garden called Gethsemane (Matt. 26:36).

(Vs. 2) Poole says this garden was probably at the foot of Mt. Olivet, where the Lord often went alone and with His disciples (Luke 21:37: Luke 22:39). Judas was well acquainted with this private place of prayer and meditation. One thing made clear in His going to this place that Judas knew so well is that the Master was not hiding nor evading the betrayal and arrest. He went there to meet Judas.

(Vs. 3) John does not mention Judas's going to the priests, contracting with them to betray the Lord, and the kiss of betrayal (Matt. 26:14-16, 47-50). Also according to the other evangelists, the party which came to arrest Him was a great multitude (Matt. 26:47) made up of the chief priests, elders of the people, officers, and soldiers with torches and weapons. John's main point is that Judas, the betrayer, knowing where our Lord would be, served as the guide and encouragement for these who would kill Him. Led by one of His disciples, they came out against Him as if He were a criminal. What a shame and an in-suit to our Lord!

(Vs. 4-5) Our Lord knew all things that would come upon Him from the manger to the cross. He is God! He purposed and willed it all that righteousness might be fulfilled, justice satisfied, the nature of sin exposed, and His elect redeemed (John 6:64). He knew (and it was recorded in the Old Testament) not only that He must suffer and die, but all the circumstances that would attend His death (Luke 24:27, 44-46; Acts 15:18). Our Lord stepped out in the open and walked forward until He stood directly in front of this multitude. It was probably then that Judas stepped forth and kissed Him on the cheek saying, "Hail, Master." This was the pre-arranged sign but wholly unnecessary, for our Lord would identify Himself when His hour was come; and ali that they would and could do was pre-determined by Himself (Acts 4:27-28). He asked, "Whom seek ye?" He was, as always, in total control of the whole situation. The mob or several of them answered, "Jesus of Nazareth." John again mentions the fact that Judas (who sold out, led them to the garden, and planted the evil kiss of betrayal) still stood with these wicked men. Our Lord said, "I AM HE," or "I AM" (Exod. 3:13-14; John 8:24), declaring Himself to be Jehovah God–the Christ–the Messiah–as well as Jesus of Nazareth.

(Vs. 6) His answer was delivered with so much majesty, authority, and Divine power that they all went backward and fell to the ground (Rev. 1:17). He is God, King of kings; He speaks and worlds are created: He speaks and men live or die; He speaks and graves are opened. "No man takes My life from Me; I lay it down." Think of His sovereignty and power when just the sound of His voice prostrates and terrorizes a multitude of enemies (Isa. 46:9-11). He might easily have walked away (Luke 4:29-30); but He allowed them to rise up, arrest Him, and take Him away.

(Vs. 7-9) The Saviour's question and their answer were the same as in Verses 4-5. He makes it very clear that it was HE ALONE whom they sought. He said, "Let these (His disciples) go their way." (1) Christ must suffer alone. He alone is our Saviour, redeemer, and sacrifice (Heb. 1:3; Isa. 63:3). (2) If Christ suffers, His people must go free. Substitution is the essence of the gospel and it is seen here. Christ is apprehended and His people go free (Isa. 53:4-6). Christ dies and we live! Christ bears all the curse, penalty, and wrath against sin, enabling God to be just and justifier; and we are free indeed. "Payment God's justice cannot twice demand; first, at my bleeding Surety's hand and then again at mine." SUBSTITUTION and SATISFACTION–learn the meaning of these in reference to the person and work of Jesus Christ and one learns the gospel. He will lose none which the Father gave and for whom He is the sin-offering (John 6:37-39; John 17:12).

(Vs. 10) The disciples had two swords among them (Luke 22:35-38). Peter had one of them, and, acting impulsively (as he often did) yet fully intending to deliver His Master or die with Him as he had boasted, drew the sword and smote Malchus, the High Priest's servant, and cut off his ear; undoubtedly he meant to behead him and missed.

(Vs. 11) Our Lord spoke to Peter in rebuke (Matt. 26:52) and also to prevent his repeating the action. The term "cup" refers to His suffering and death decreed by the Father (Matt. 20:22; John 12:27) for our sins. The death of the Redeemer was not an accident, nor only an example, nor the death of a helpless reformer. It was decreed, designed, and determined in the covenant of grace from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; Heb. 9:25-26; Heb. 13:20). "Shall I not drink it?" He is not only able to fulfill all that is written of Him, but He is willing (John 10:18).

(Vs. 12) They bound the hands of the Lord Jesus and led Him away. The disciples forsook Him and fled (Matt. 26:56: Mark 14:50). Mark states that a young man (not one of the disciples) attempted to follow; but when they tried to lay hold on him, he fled (Mark 14:51-52).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.