John 18:1–27: The Betrayal of Jesus
It’s time. No more signs. No more teaching. No more intercessory prayer. There is nothing left for Jesus to do but to give himself up to his betrayer. On his way to the cross, he will be tried, beaten, denied, mocked, and spit upon. For this reason, it is probably best to understand that Jesus’ work “at the cross” begins here, when he goes out to meet Judas in the garden of Gethsemane. All this marks the absolute lowest point in his estate of humiliation.
Nevertheless, it is also here that we see the glory of Jesus shine most brightly in the Gospel of John. Throughout this Gospel, John has been teaching us that his most glorious moments were not when he gathered to himself the largest crowds, but when he is most exquisitely despised and rejected by his own people. By now, John has prepared us to see the character, love, resolve, strength, mercy, and power of Jesus shine in the middle of his darkest hour. In John 18:1–27, we will start to see Jesus’ glory in its full radiance, for Jesus most fully reveals his true identity at the cross.
1. What is the biblical/historical/theological significance of the fact that Jesus crossed the brook Kidron? What is the biblical/historical/theological significance of the fact that Jesus was confronted by his betrayer in a garden? Why are those details important for making sense of Jesus’ mission? What would be lost if we did not know those details?
2. What does Jesus reveal of his power during his arrest? Why doesn’t he exercise it more fully? What does Jesus reveal of his love during his arrest? What do these elements in the garden of Gethsemane reveal about the power and love of your Savior in the midst of your pain, anguish, and sorrow today?
3. Why do you think all four Gospels include the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus? What does it remind us about our own weaknesses? What does it teach us about our Lord’s grace? How would you feel if your darkest failures were printed alongside Peter’s in the Bible?
4. Clearly, Jesus does not plan on stopping his own crucifixion. Why, then, does Jesus bring countercharges against his accusers by asking them to “bear witness” to the wrong he has done, or else explain why they strike him (John 18:23)? What practical value does this scene have for us to know that Jesus has already condemned the wickedness of the world? How might that encourage, strengthen, or embolden us?