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Lesson 7: Passage to Calvary *

Introduction: Everyone wants to be treated fairly. When we think we have been unfairly treated we get angry. In the United States, we also go out and find a lawyer! In my experience, most people who are mistreated by the authorities, and who think they have the power to correct the mistreatment, do what is in their power to make things right. This week we study the unjust trial and abuse suffered by the most powerful being in the universe. He had "payback power." Did He use it? Let's jump into our study!

  1. The Arrest

    1. Read John 18:2-3. Imagine you are one of Jesus' disciples. Can you see and hear the soldiers coming towards you? (They had torches and weapons. I'm sure you could see them coming.)

      1. How would you feel to see this group heading towards you? (The IVP Background Commentary tells us that at Passover the moon was nearly full. Thus, you would be able to see not only the torches, but you would be able to see the group coming your way.)

      2. Since we know it was a full moon, why would they bring torches? (They apparently expected to have to search for Jesus in hiding places.)

    2. Read John 18:4-5. Why does John explain to us that Jesus knew "all that was going to happen to Him?" (Since John records the question, "Who is it you want," he wants us to know Jesus asked the question for a purpose other than getting information. Jesus was not surprised by His arrest.)

      1. If Jesus was not looking for information, why did He ask the question? (Judas was there to identify Jesus. Judas presence assumes Jesus would try to blend into the crowd. However, Jesus does nothing of the sort. He boldly steps forward and gives His name.)

      2. What do you think is significant about Jesus answering "I am He?" (Compare John 8:58. "I am" is a claim to being God. Jesus comes forward unafraid and declares that He is God.)

    3. Read John 18:6. Why did the soldiers fall down? Did they send the drunk detachment out to arrest Jesus? (The commentaries suggest that Jesus' "I am" statement is not clear here. They say the language could simply mean that He was the person. My view is that verse 6 reveals that Jesus intended the "I AM" (see, Exodus 3:14) statement. Heavenly power attended the "I AM" statement and staggered he soldiers.)

      1. Read Acts 26:13-15. What comparisons do you see in these two situations?

      2. We have the power of God momentarily display itself in the garden against the soldiers. Why did Jesus display this power? (This is further evidence that Jesus voluntarily gave up His life. He had the power to stop this arrest.)

    4. Read John 18:7. What tone of voice do you think Jesus used here? (If it had been me, I would have had a sneer on my face: "Okay, tough guys, who was it you wanted?" I'm sure Jesus was more mature than I am.)

  2. The Pre-trial

    1. Read John 18:12-14. Why would they bring Jesus to someone who was not the high priest? (Ellicott points out that Annas used to be the high priest. Although he was "fired" by the Romans, he had such influence that he was able to have five of his sons, as well as his son-in-law, appointed High Priest after him.) So, Jesus was taken to the "insider" in Jewish politics.)

      1. Why does John comment about the views of Caiaphas, the son-in-law to Annas? (He wants us to understand the bias against Jesus.)

    2. Read John 18:19-21. Why doesn't Jesus answer the former High Priest's questions? What reasons can you see for Jesus' answer? (1. I have read that the American rule against self-incrimination had its roots in Roman and Jewish law. Jewish law clearly required the testimony of witnesses in a murder trial. ( Numbers 35:30) Two or three witnesses were required to impose the death penalty. ( Deuteronomy 17:6) Thus, Jesus is making a "Your honor, I object to being asked to testify against Myself.") 2. He is being questioned in the dark of night at a private gathering. Jesus compares this to His teaching which was open and public.)

    3. Read John 18:22-23. What kind of inquisition is this? (Violent and unfair. John paints a picture of Jewish leadership who was not interested in a fair trial.)

      1. How do you react when people treat you unfairly? What if the government system, which is supposed to be fair, is unfair to you? How do you react then?

        1. What theme do you see so far in these texts? (This is the gospel, that Jesus unfairly died in our place. He who had no sin died for our sins.)

  3. Caiaphas' Trial

    1. Read Matthew 26:57, 59-60. Jesus is now taken before the actual High Priest, Caiaphas, where they decide to (sort of) follow the rule of law. What is the problem with following those pesky legal rules? (The false witnesses could not agree!)

      1. What should have happened at this point? (Read Deuteronomy 19:16-21. The false witnesses in a capital trial are to be put to death.)

        1. Who do you think was behind these false witnesses?

          1. Who, then, should have been on trial here instead of Jesus?

    2. Read Matthew 26:60b-61. Does this sound right to you? Compare John 2:19.

      1. Is this worthy of the death penalty?

      2. What do you find ironic about the testimony/ charges that the Jewish teachers were finally able to put together against Jesus?

        1. Let's look at the context of John 2:19 by reading John 2:18. What is Jesus talking about when He refers to the "temple?" (Read John 2:21-22. He is referring to Himself. The irony is that this is the precise result of this trial; Jesus' death and resurrection in three days.)

    3. Read Matthew 26:62-63. Why would Caiaphas link destroying and rebuilding the temple to being the Messiah? (The New Bible Commentary tells us that the Messiah was expected to restore and rebuild the temple. So, there is a logical link.)

      1. What is wrong with Caiaphas' question? (Again, he is trying to get Jesus to incriminate Himself.)

    4. Read Matthew 26:64. What does Jesus' response say about those who claim that He was a good and holy man, but not God?

      1. Compare Daniel 7:13-14. If Caiaphas knew the book of Daniel, what should he have concluded?

    5. Read Matthew 26:65-66. It appears that Caiaphas does know Daniel! What is the consequence of Caiaphas clearly understanding the claims of Jesus? (It condemns him. He announces the crime of blasphemy, thus the High Priest clearly understood Jesus' claim to be the Messiah.)

    6. Read Matthew 26:67-68. What does this teach us about the group that was "judging" Jesus?

      1. When they asked the question, "Prophesy ... who hit you," what does that suggest about the nature of the blow? (That they were striking Jesus from behind.)

      2. How do you react to unexpected blows to the head?

      3. How do you react to people spitting in your face?

      4. How do you react to people slapping you?

      5. Now answer the above three questions when you have absolute power over the hitters, spitters, and slappers?

  4. Pilate's Trial

    1. Read John 18:28-30. What do you think of the Jewish leaders answer to Pilate?

      1. Does this show respect? Common sense?

      2. What do you think about the leaders concern about being able to eat the Passover? (John again brings to our mind the irony of this.)

    2. Read John 18:31. Pilate reacts as I would expect any judge to react. What is going on in the minds of the Jewish leaders that they would speak to Pilate this way? (It shows anger and arrogance. They apparently think they can intimidate Pilate.)

    3. Pilate asks Jesus some questions. Read John 18:38 and John 19:1. Have the Jewish leaders correctly judged Pilate?

    4. Read Matthew 27:19. Matthew tells us that just at this time Pilate's wife sent him this message. Who gave this dream to Pilate's wife? (God.)

      1. Why would God do this? (No judge in this series of trials was without warning from God.)

    5. Friend, how about you? How do you judge Jesus? Your response is life-altering. Why not accept Him as your King and Redeemer today?

  5. Next week: Darkness at Noon
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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