These small group studies of John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
John 18 Inductive Bible Study
The arrest of Christ (1-11)
The setting (1-3)
The encounter (4-9)
The reaction (10-11)
First Jewish Trial before Annas (12-24)
Jesus taken to Annas (12-14)
Peter and John follow and watch (15-18)
Jesus requests witnesses and a fair trial (19-24)
Peter denies Christ the second and third times (25-27)
First Roman Trial before Pilate (28-38)
They accuse Jesus before Pilate (28-32)
Pilate questions Jesus (33-38)
Second Trial: Pilate offers to release Barabbas or Jesus (39-40)
Matthew 26:30-35 – Peter’s denial predicted.
The last supper, Communion Instituted (night before His death)
The Lord’s prayer after dinner (night before)
The prayer in the garden (night before, Matthew 26:36-46)
The arrest (night before)
The first trial before Annas (night before)
Peter’s denial (night before)
Jesus is beaten by the temple guards (night before Luke 22:63-65)
Jesus’ second trial, before Caiaphas (night before Matthew 26:57-68)
Jesus’ first Roman trial (the morning of His death (Matthew 27:1, John 18:28)
The arrest – Go over questions and cross-references at appropriate time for a more clear picture.
Matthew 26:47-50 – Jesus’ encounter with Judas.
Matthew 26:51-56 – Jesus dialogues more with the ones who came to arrest Him.
Mark 14:51-52 – A young follower, maybe Mark, fled naked.
Luke 22:51 – Jesus heals the guy whose ear was cut off.
What garden did Jesus go to?
What was Judas’ job in the betrayal? Why did the priests need someone to betray Jesus?
How many people are in a cohort?
What does the fact that the Romans sent soldiers to help apprehend Jesus show about their involvement?
Why did Jesus keep asking who they were seeking?
What can you see here about Peter’s character?
What did Jesus do about that person’s ear?
Two things stand out to me about Jesus’ arrest, His determination and His compassion. He knew what was going to happen in the garden yet He still went there. He knew what the crowd was coming to do, but He approached them and didn’t hide. He wouldn’t allow His disciples to fight for Him because it was His “cup” to “drink” 11. He also could have called hundreds of thousands of angels to slaughter His opponents (Matthew 26:53), but He didn’t. Make no mistake. Jesus didn’t get accidentally caught. He didn’t make a mistake and get turned in. Yes, the government was against Him and hundreds came to arrest Him, but He wasn’t under their authority. Some people say His death wasn’t that meaningful because He had no choice and was arrested by the government. He could have gotten out of it and away at any time, but He didn’t because He was determined. This determination is seen again and again throughout the book of John and in these chapters it reaches its climax with Jesus willingly giving up Himself to be arrested and finally killed.
Second, Jesus compassion really stands out. If anyone had cause to be bitter it was Jesus. Here His friend whom He had blessed and been kind to was betraying Him. The people He had given His life to help and serve were killing Him. The Romans who had nothing to do with Him were helping. What’s more they were coming against Him with clubs and swords as if He was a common criminal. Yet Jesus doesn’t grow bitter or hateful. Quite the opposite. First, He showed compassion to Judas. Read the cross-references.
He allowed Judas to kiss Him and He was friendly, even calling Judas friend. He didn’t rebuke Judas, but was polite.
Second, He showed compassion for His disciples. Though they were imperfect and had just failed Him by sleeping on watch repeatedly, Jesus was looking out for them until the end. He stands up to the crowd and repeatedly asks whom they seek in order to show to them they have no authority to take the disciples (8-9). He protected them from arrest because He had further plan for them later and perhaps because He knew the temptation would be too great for them to turn away from Him and it may cripple their faith. Until the very end He protected each one, not losing any.
Thirdly, He was compassionate towards the slave who came against Him and had his ear chopped off by Peter. He deserved it, but Jesus still healed Him. Compassion is shown towards those who don’t deserve it. Judas didn’t deserve compassion. The disciples didn’t deserve compassion. The slave didn’t deserve compassion. Also, Jesus showed compassion to others at a time when most would have only been concerned with their own life. Sometimes it is easy to show compassion to others when everything is going well in our life. But it is not so easy when to show compassion after we face a lot of hard trials. Until the end Jesus was outward focused, not inward focused.
Let us remember to be determined to fulfill our duty to God no matter what the cost and to be compassionate to others even if they don’t deserve it and we are in the middle of a tough time.
First Jewish trial, before Annas – Ask questions and read cross-references at appropriate time
Who is Annas and why was he important?
Who do you think is the other disciple mentioned in 15?
Why would Peter deny his relationship to Christ?
What can we learn from this?
Has there ever be a time when we are tempted to deny or minimize our relationship to God? When?
Why did Jesus answer like He did in verses 20-21?
What was Jesus asking for in verse 23? Why?
Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15-19 – Two or three witnesses in agreement were needed to condemn somebody. A malicious false witness was to be punished.
Annas was the high priest from 6-15 AD and was removed by Pilate’s predecessor. Five of his sons plus his son-in-law Caiaphas had each had stints as high priest. Therefore Annas still had a lot of influence and his opinion counted. Jesus appeared before Annas in the first of His two Jewish trials. This first trial was an informal one. Annas’ verdict wouldn’t be valid for the Romans to accept, but his advice would likely influence Caiaphas and the rest of the Sanhedrin council.
From verses 15-18 there is a bit of a break from focusing on Jesus and the attention is shifted towards Peter and another disciple. These were the only two disciples who were brave enough to follow Jesus, the rest apparently having fled. The unnamed one very likely refers to John as it is his style not to name himself. John had a little bit of Guan Xi (favor) with the high priest and so was allowed into the court and he was able to also use this guan xi to get Peter in. They wanted to watch and see what happened. Here Peter denies Christ for the first time.
In verse 19 the attention shifts back to Jesus. Actually according to normal Jewish trials it wasn’t normal and perhaps it was even illegal to question the defendant. Jesus himself says that what He has taught is known and if they have any questions they should find some witnesses. Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15-19. For this comment He was struck. But in 23 He defends it, once again pointing out the unfairness of this trial. Later on in His second Jewish trial and also the trial with Pilate Jesus was silent against all accusations. He didn’t defend Himself against wrong statements, but occasionally verified that something was true (He was a king, He was the Son of God). So when Jesus opened His mouth here it wasn’t out of a hope that a fair trial would free Him, but I believe it was to show that the trial was unfair and biased and He was innocent. Jesus didn’t want there to be any doubt in our minds or others there that He deserved death. If He deserved it, it wouldn’t be effective in saving us. Annas couldn’t get anything useful out of Jesus so sent Him to Caiaphas.
Peter’s 2nd and third denials – Ask questions and read cross-references at appropriate times.
Peter here denies Jesus for the 2nd and 3rd times. Peter was one of only two disciples who even followed Jesus this far. So in essence he was the second bravest disciple. Yet he still vehemently denies his relationship to Christ. He is scared and doesn’t want to face the fate that Jesus did.
Matthew 26:69-75 – Peter’s denial, more descriptive.
Luke 12:9 – He who denies Jesus before men will be denied by Him before the Father.
Romans 1:16 – Paul was not ashamed.
Acts 14:3 – They were speaking boldly with reliance on the Lord.
What can we learn from Peter’s denials?
Why do you think Peter denied Christ though he was committed to Him?
Why are things like this even mentioned in the Bible?
These kinds of things are included in the Bible so that we can learn from the mistakes of others without experiencing them all firsthand. There is no doubt Peter was committed. He truly meant it when he expressed willingness to die for Christ. But he was prideful and self-confident rather than God-confident. He relied on himself and his own strength. The result was disastrous. Not one, not two, but THREE serious denials of His relationship to Christ. This can happen to anyone. No one is immune. If we get prideful and think we are immune we will fall. We must be alert to Satan’s attacks all the time and continually rely on God and be confident in Him. Read cross-references. This is really a sad event and Peter himself weeps bitterly over it. But learn from Peter’s mistake. I’m sure if Peter were here now he would tell us how sorrowful and full of grief he was and urge is to always humbly stand for Christ no matter what the consequences. Don’t experience this sadness for yourself. Pastor Lamb is a famous pastor in China who first denied Christ to save himself from getting thrown in to jail. Later he went back to the police to withdraw his denial and profess his belief. Subsequently they did throw him in prison.
The rooster was Jesus’ way to remind Peter about the prophecy. Even during this time Jesus was still teaching Peter. Normally after we sin comes the moment of recognition and guilt when we feel very sorry for what we did. Try to think of that moment ahead of time before doing the sin!
SECOND JEWISH TRIAL
The second trial is not mentioned in detail here in John. Read about it in the following Cross-references and discuss.
Matthew 26:57-68 – Jesus’ second trial (before Caiaphas).
Luke 22:63-65 – They already started beating Jesus before His second Jewish trial.
IV. First Roman Trial – Ask questions and read cross-references at appropriate time.
Matthew 27:11-14 – Jesus is silent before Pilate.
Luke 23:1-5 – The Jews make false accusations before Pilate about Jesus.
What is the Praetorium?
Why wouldn’t they enter it? Why is this ironic?
Why did the Jews not want to judge Jesus themselves?
How did this fit into Jesus’ previous prophecy?
Why wouldn’t Jesus directly answer the charges leveled against Him?
What kind of kingdom is Christ’s?
What does Pilate’s question in verse 38 show?
What kind of person was Barabbas?
Why would the Jews ask for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus?
From this trial we see the Jewish determination, Pilate’s weak complicity, and Jesus’ reaffirmation about Himself.
The Jews were determined to not only punish Jesus, but to kill Him. They had no real evidence and no real charges and they knew it. They simply told Pilate that if Jesus weren’t bad they wouldn’t have brought Him. Later they resorted to making up false evidence against Jesus. Also the Jews wanted Pilate’s help because they were not allowed to perform capital punishment. This too was part of God’s divine plan. This right had been taken away when the Romans started governing Judea. If the Jews had been able to execute Jesus they would have and they would have stoned Him. But Jesus prophesied in John 3:17 that He would be “lifted up”. He would be lifted up in crucifixion, but not in stoning, so it was necessary for the Romans to get involved. All this time the Jews hypocrisy is appalling. They were unwilling to enter a Gentile’s dwelling or building, believing that it would defile them. As normal, they maintained their ceremonial cleanliness while their hearts were rotten and they were engaged in the biggest sin in the history of the world.
Starting here we also see Pilate’s complicity. He wasn’t a stupid man. He could see what was going on. He knew Jesus had done nothing worthy of death. But as a political leader he decided to bend to satisfy the people under him. He wanted to make them happy and he feared what they might do if he didn’t listen to them. All the time he attempted to maintain his innocence, yet he was guilty to because as a leader his responsibility was to do right. If Pilate satisfied them this time he could also probably expect some return favor later. Pilate was also very cynical asking “what is truth?” and thinking there was no ultimate or absolute truth. This is very common with politicians. They often make a lot of little compromises for their supposed “greater good”. They often abandon truth thinking it is not practical or cannot be found. They engage in a lot of under the table deals and they do favors in order to gain some favor with others. None of us here will probably ever be political leaders, but we should respect those who do what is right without bowing to public pressure. It’s rare though. For ourselves, if we have the position of leadership we need to realize that sometimes being a good leader will make us unpopular. Sure, we should think about the needs of those we are leading, but in the end we have to do what is right even if some are displeased by that.
Also here we see Jesus’ reaffirming His mission. His goal was never to set up a political kingdom (which Pilate would have feared). His kingdom was never and would never be part of the evil world system. Once again Jesus reaffirms who He is admitting that He is a King. He was either insane, a blatant liar, or really the Son of God with an invisible, spiritual kingdom. Jesus doesn’t defend Himself from personal attacks, but neither does He back down from His claims of being divine.
Pilate offers to release Barabbas –
Read and discuss.
There was a custom at the Passover to release one prisoner to the crowd. Perhaps Pilate was hoping the crowd would be more sensible than the leaders and that if they requested Jesus to be free their own leaders would have to give in. But instead the Jewish leaders incited the crowd against Jesus and they demanded Pilate to release Barabbas.
Points to Learn:
Jesus’ determination and compassion
The terrible wickedness of humans
Peter’s pride and the importance of humbly relying on God
Pilate’s political complicity and weakness
God’s sovereign control. Throughout this process is nothing more clear than God’s control over the process to make a way for our sins to be forgiven and for all prophecy to be fulfilled!