John 18

John 18:1-2 a garden into the which he entered...for Jesus oftimes resorted thither

Ironically, John was the only of the Gospel writers who was closer than a stone's throw of Christ's suffering in Gethsemane, yet his record lacks any mention of the event. We cannot suppose from this notable absence that John thought it unimportant. Rather, as other evidence indicates, John seems to be writing his gospel with a full knowledge of what is contained in the other testimonies. His record seems to be designed specifically to fill in the gaps. With regard to the events in the Garden, we may assume that the synoptic authors were comprehensive. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all spoke of the great sacrifice in Gethsemane while John seems to have had nothing more to add.

As we know, John had slept through portions of that monumental moment. Possibly, the narrative silence represents his grief about his own weak and slumbering flesh which could not remain awake despite the Master's specific request (Matt. 26:38-43). Meanwhile, the Master was suffering 'according to the flesh' even 'the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam' (Matt. 26:41, Alma 7:13, 2 Ne. 9:21). Certainly, the heaviness of John's eyelids can hardly be compared to the heaviness of Christ's burden on that fateful night. Such is the contrast between even great men and the Master!

John 18:3 a band of men and officers...cometh thither with lanterns and torches

Neal A. Maxwell

"Had Jesus not been meek and lowly when 'a great multitude with swords and staves' came to take Him (Mark 14:43), He could have, in pride, resisted His destiny. Led by Judas, there came a band of men 'thither with lanterns and torches.' (John 18:3.) Spiritually blind, the multitude needed lanterns to see and to capture the 'Light of the world.'" (Meek and Lowly [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 11.)

John 18:6 they went backward, and fell to the ground

Gerald N. Lund

"One cannot help but be struck with the tremendous difference between Christ's behavior during those terrible hours and the actions of those around him. Throughout, it becomes clear that Jesus was the only one who was not thrown off balance by the passions of that night and the following day. Judas betrayed him, then committed suicide, apparently in a great overflowing feeling of guilty remorse. The armed party sent out to arrest him fell back in fright when he told them he was Jesus. Peter vowed perfect support and then failed miserably as fear washed out his determination. The high priest was thrown into a rage by the calm demeanor of the accused. Pilate, symbol and wielder of Roman might, became a frightened vacillating man when faced with the King of the Jews. Even the hardened Roman soldier was awed by Christ's manner of dying. Throughout, it becomes clear that Jesus was not the victim but the Master." (Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 308.)

John 18:8 if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way

Eldred G. Smith

"Can you match that display of calmness? of peace? Here they are coming to take a man they want to kill, and he as much as says, 'Here I am, take me, but let my friends go.'" ("Peace," Ensign, July 1972, 117)

John 18:11 the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

If there was one thing which annoyed Jesus, it was any attempt to thwart his redemptive mission. Earlier, when he had prophesied of his atoning death and resurrection, Peter said, 'Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee' (Matt 16:22). Christ's response was quick, 'he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men' (Matt 16:23). Peter's impetuous attempt to prevent the necessary arrest was an irritating display that he did not yet understand that the Lord's servants would fight only if his kingdom 'were of this world' (v. 36). Peter wanted to save Jesus; Jesus wanted to save Peter. What Peter didn't understand was that his feeble attempts to save the Master were in direct opposition to the Master's plan to save Peter and all mankind.

John 18:12-13 the band...led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas

James E. Talmage

"John alone informs us that the Lord was taken first to Annas, who sent Him, still bound to Caiaphas, the high priest; the synoptists record the arraignment before Caiaphas only. No details of the interview with Annas are of record; and the bringing of Jesus before him at all was as truly irregular and illegal, according to Hebrew law, as were all the subsequent proceedings of that night. Annas, who was father-in-law to Caiaphas, had been deposed from the high-priestly office over twenty years before; but throughout this period he had exerted a potent influence in all the affairs of the hierarchy." (Jesus the Christ, 576)

John 18:14 Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel...that it was expedient that one man should die for the people

See John 11:49-51.

John 18:16 that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest

How John, the son of Zebedee and a Galilean fisherman, knew the high priest is entirely unclear. Not only did he know the high priest, but he knew his servant Malchus by name (v. 10). He may even have known the woman that kept the door. The whole incident proves that even in Jesus time, it's not what you know but who you know. Instructively, we learn that the disciple had no qualms about using his "in" with the high priest so he could witness the unfolding drama. Sometimes it is appropriate to play the games of the world when performing the Lord's work. John seemed to understand the Lord's meaning when he said, 'I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves' (Matt 10:16).

John 18:21 Why askest thou me? Ask them which heard me

James E. Talmage

"From the account given in the fourth Gospel we infer that the Prisoner was first subjected to an interrogative examination by the high priest in person. That functionary, whether Annas, or Caiaphas is a matter of inference, inquired of Jesus concerning His disciples and His doctrines. Such a preliminary inquiry was utterly unlawful; for the Hebrew code provided that the accusing witnesses in any cause before the court should define their charge against the accused, and that the latter should be protected from any effort to make him testify against himself. The Lord's reply should have been a sufficient protest to the high priest against further illegal procedure. 'Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.' This was a lawful objection against denying to a prisoner on trial his right to be confronted by his accusers. It was received with open disdain; and one of the officers who stood by, hoping perhaps to curry favor with his superiors, actually struck Jesus a vicious blow accompanied by the question, 'Answerest thou the high priest so?' To this cowardly assault the Lord replied with almost superhuman gentleness. 'If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?' Combined with submissiveness, however, this constituted another appeal to the principles of justice; if what Jesus had said was evil, why did not the assailant accuse Him; and if He had spoken well, what right had a police officer to judge, condemn, and punish, and that too in the presence of the high priest? Law and justice had been dethroned that night." (Jesus the Christ, 576)

Neal A. Maxwell

"In intelligence and performance, Christ far surpasses the individual and the composite capacities and achievements of all who have lived, live now, and will yet live! (See Abr. 3:19.)

"He rejoices in our genuine goodness and achievement. Yet, any assessment of where we stand in relation to him tells us that we do not stand at all! We kneel-humbly and gladly!

"We cannot, even in the depths of disease, tell him anything at all about suffering...We cannot counsel him about being misrepresented, misunderstood, or betrayed-or what it is like when even friends falter. (See John 18.)

"We cannot educate him regarding injustice or compare failures of judicial systems with the Giver of the Law, who, in divine dignity, endured its substantive and procedural perversion.

"And when we feel so alone, we cannot presume to teach him who, at the apogee of his agony, trod 'the winepress alone' anything about feeling forsaken. (See D&C 76:107; Matt. 27:46.)" ("Our Acceptance of Christ," Ensign, June 1984, 73)

John 18:28 they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled

According to John, the Passover meal had not yet occurred. According to the synoptic gospels, the last supper was the Passover meal. But if the Jews had celebrated the Passover the night before the trial, then John's statement doesn't make sense (see commentary for John 13:1-2). John's chronology has the Last Supper the night before the Passover, hence the Sanhedrin are worried about defiling themselves prior to eating the Passover. Perhaps they should have defiled the Passover instead of murdering the Son of God!

Bruce R. McConkie

"Roman trials were open to the public [but] to enter a Gentile home during the Passover, because [leavened] bread would be found therein, would render them ceremonially unclean according to their tradition-a horrible prospect for people with murder in their hearts!" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 800.)

John 18:31 It is not lawful for us to put any man to death

We should not believe that the Jewish leaders never put any man to death just because it was against the law. Their behavior demonstrates that they didn't really care much about the law. Indeed, we see that without any Roman involvement whatsoever, Stephen was stoned by the order of the same Jewish leadership (see Acts 6:8-7:60). "Not every stoning was legal...In New Testament times, many stonings may have been lynchings, especially because the Roman government seems to have reserved to itself the power to approve all capital punishments (John 18:31). And even if the Romans were to grant the Jews permission to conduct an execution, they may not have allowed stoning to be the method. Accordingly, scholars generally agree that all New Testament stonings were extralegal." (James V. Garrison, The Romans in Judea, BYU Studies, vol. 36 (1996-97), Number 3--1996-97)

Therefore, when we hear the Jewish leadership feign deference to Rome and the law, it is only to further their murderous purposes. Because of Jesus' popularity, it is doubtful that the Jewish population would have stoned Jesus. However, if the chief priests could get him executed by Roman authority, it would take less public support. Even at the critical moment, we find the people ask for Barabbas rather than Jesus primarily at the instigation of the chief priests (Mark 15:9-11).

John 18:33 Art thou the King of the Jews?

"...the Jewish rulers took Jesus to the Roman governor Pilate in hope of getting a sentence of
death from him. However, blasphemy against the God of Israel was of no consequence to a Roman official, and was certainly not a capital offense in Roman law. So the crafty, designing Jewish rulers changed the charge to treason, saying to Pilate that Jesus made himself a king and was therefore a rival of the Roman emperor. They didn't really believe it themselves, but they feigned alarm and pretended loyalty to the Empire in order to make Jesus appear as a criminal in the mind of Pilate. They wanted Jesus to be found guilty of treason in a Roman court.

"A charge of treason was so serious that Pilate was obligated to investigate, so he questioned Jesus about his kingdom. The dialogue is recorded in John 18:33-38: 'Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?' (That is, Jesus asked, 'Are you speaking as a Roman official or are you simply repeating what the Jews have said?...')" (Robert J. Matthews, Behold the Messiah [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 274.)

John 18:36 My kingdom is not of this world

John Taylor

"Will God's kingdom be a literal or a spiritual kingdom? It would be almost unnecessary to answer such a question as the above, were it not for the opinions that are entertained in the world concerning a purely spiritual kingdom.. . . . But I have introduced this merely to meet some questions that exist in the minds of many, relative to a spiritual kingdom, arising from certain remarks of our Savior's, where he says, 'My kingdom is not of this world'; (John 18:36) and again, the 'kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost'; (Romans 14:17) and again, 'the kingdom of God is within [or among] you.' (Luke 17:21.)

"The kingdom of God, as I have already stated, is the government of God, whether in the heavens or on the earth. Hence Jesus taught his disciples to pray, 'Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.' And when the kingdom of God is established on the earth, and prevails universally, then will the will of God be done on earth, and not till then; then will the reign of God exist on the earth, as it now does in heaven. It is this reign we are speaking of, a reign of righteousness. But whenever God's laws are established, or his kingdom is organized, and officers selected, and men yield obedience to the laws of the kingdom of God, to such an extent does God's kingdom prevail...

"I have demonstrated...that the kingdom of God would be literally established on the earth. It will not be an aerial phantom, according to some visionaries, but a substantial reality. It will be established, as before said, on a literal earth, and will be composed of literal men, women, and children; of living saints who keep the commandments of God, and of resurrected bodies who shall actually come out of their graves, and live on the earth. The Lord will be king over all the earth, and all mankind literally under his sovereignty, and every nation under the heavens will have to acknowledge his authority, and bow to his sceptre. Those who serve him in righteousness will have communications with God, and with Jesus; will have the ministering of angels, and will know the past, the present, and the future; and other people, who may not yield full obedience to his laws, nor be fully instructed in his covenants, will, nevertheless, have to yield full obedience to his government. For it will be reign of God upon the earth, and he will enforce his laws, and command that obedience from the nations of the world which is legitimately his right. Satan will not then be permitted to control its inhabitants, for the Lord God will be king over all the earth, and the kingdom and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven will be given to the saints." (The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], 207 - 208.)

Ezra Taft Benson

"When Jesus stood before Pilate, the Roman governor asked him whether or not He was a king. It was a political question. The Savior replied: 'My kingdom is not of this world.' (John 18:36.) His answer is apropos today: The work of His kingdom is preeminently spiritual. The economic, political, and social problems facing this nation, as well as other nations, will be solved only with the help of God.

"The days ahead will be sobering and will test the faith of the Saints. But we may obtain strength from the Lord's assurances found in modern revelation. I quote:

'...Great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve.' (Moses 7:61; italics added.)

"The kingdom of God will not fail; it shall not be destroyed; it will not be left to other people; it will stand forever until 'the kingdoms of this world [will] become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.' (Rev. 11:15.)

"Hear the prophecy of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

'No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.' (HC, 4:540.)

"Christian denominations the world over have prayed for centuries for the kingdom of God to come. We earnestly and publicly declare: that day is now here!" ("May the Kingdom of God Go Forth," Ensign, May 1978, 33-34)

Bruce R. McConkie

"He truly shall yet reign as King of kings and Lord of lords, and 'the kingdoms of this world" shall "become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.' (Rev. 11:15.) But all the hopes of temporal rule, when he first came among men, were false and groundless. 'My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight' (John 18:36), was his mortal proclamation. The day when he shall reign on the throne of David, slay the Goliaths of the world, and drive the Philistines from Israel's door is reserved for his second appearance." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 1: 45.)

John 18:37 for this cause came I into the world

Alexander B. Morrison

"'For this cause came I into the world.' What was that cause? Why did Jesus, the Lord God Omnipotent who sits at the right hand of the Father, creator of worlds without number, lawgiver and judge, condescend to come to earth to be born in a manger, live out most of His mortal existence in obscurity, trudge the dusty roads of Judea proclaiming a message which was violently opposed by many, and finally, betrayed by one of His closest associates, die between two malefactors on Golgotha's somber hill? Nephi, who gloried 'in ... Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell' (2 Ne. 33:6), understood Christ's motivation: 'He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him' (2 Ne. 26:24). It was love for all of God's children that led Jesus, unique in His sinless perfection, to offer Himself as ransom for the sins of others. In the words of the beloved hymn, 'Jesus died on Calvary, That all thru him might ransomed be' (" 'Tis Sweet to Sing the Matchless Love," Hymns, no. 176). This, then, was the consummate cause which brought Jesus to earth to 'suffer, bleed, and die for man.' He came as 'a lamb without blemish and without spot' (1 Pet. 1:19) to atone for our sins, that He, being raised on the cross, might draw all men unto Him (see 3 Ne. 27:14). In Paul's felicitous phrase, 'as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive' (1 Cor. 15:22)." ("For This Cause Came I into the World," Ensign, Nov. 1999, 25)

Neal A. Maxwell

"As He began to feel the awful weight of the approaching Atonement, Jesus acknowledged, 'For this cause came I into the world' (John 18:37). We too, brothers and sisters, came 'into the world' to pass through our particularized portions of the mortal experience. Even though our experiences do not even begin to approach our Master's, nevertheless, to undergo this mortal experience is why we too are here! Purposefully pursuing this 'cause' brings ultimate meaning to our mortal lives. And we are greatly helped if we enter with faith that pavilion of perspective-the plan of salvation. Then the search for meaning is ended." ("Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ," Ensign, Nov. 1997, 22)

John 18:38 Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?

"Pilate asked the question of the ages: 'What is truth?'

"We don't know if Pilate waited to hear the Savior's reply. We are told only that, after he asked his question, Pilate 'went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.' (John 18:37-39.) Perhaps, afraid to learn the truth, Pilate left before Jesus responded. Most likely, Pilate did not want to face the truth.

"'What is truth?' From the time Pilate asked this in the New Testament until the heavens were opened again in the day of the Restoration, the scriptures are silent on the Lord's response to that question.

"On May 6, 1833, in a revelation given to Joseph Smith at Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord said:

'Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;
And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.
The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth...' (D&C 93:23-30.)

"Simply put, truth is eternal. When all else has passed away, truth will remain. Man might try to turn his back on it, close his eyes to it, refuse to hear it, or cover it up, but he cannot make truth go away.

"Truth and error have always been, and always will be, at opposite ends of the spectrum.

"The biblical account of Pilate's brief pursuit of truth gives a glimpse of a major flaw in his character. He claimed that he sought the truth. Yet, he obviously wanted to find the most expedient solution to a difficult situation-what to do with this man, Jesus of Nazareth, in whom he found no fault but whose life the mob demanded. Pilate bowed before custom as he conceded to the will of the throng that Barabbas, a robber, should be released rather than Jesus. (See John 18:39-40.)" (What Is Truth?, LDS Church News, 1996, 09/21/96 .)

John A. Widstoe

"Though truth is so important to humankind, and involved in everyday life, it has been made, by philosophical abstraction, to seem nebulous, far away, difficult to understand.

"When Jesus stood before the Procurator, in defense of His own career, He declared simply: 'To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.' Pilate seemed mystified by this statement. He asked, 'What is truth?' not so much for information, it would seem, as to express a doubt: 'No one knows what truth is.' That has been the attitude of multitudes, much to the world's sorrow.

"The Prophet Joseph Smith gave a luminously clear definition of truth. 'Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.'

"Under this definition, all verified knowledge, the sum of correct, substantiated knowledge, is truth. This definition can be comprehended by the human mind. It places truth, so far as obtainable with human powers, within the reach of all who will seek it, and removes it from the field of speculation. It avoids the quagmires of argumentation. The search for knowledge becomes a search for truth." (An Understandable Religion [Independence, Mo.: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1944], 215 - 216.)

John 18:40 Not this man, but Barabbas

Jeffrey R. Holland

Ecclesiastical and political rejection became more personal when the citizenry in the street turned against Jesus as well. It is one of the ironies of history that sitting with Jesus in prison was a real blasphemer, a murderer and revolutionary known as Barabbas, a name or title in Aramaic meaning "son of the father." Free to release one prisoner in the spirit of the Passover tradition, Pilate asked the people, "Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?" (Matt. 27:21) They said, "Barabbas." So one godless "son of the father" was set free while a truly divine Son of His Heavenly Father moved on to crucifixion. ("None Were with Him" Ensign, May 2009, 86)