John 18

1 The brook was between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives.
2 It is ironic that Judas would choose this place of personal prayer to arrest a man who was guilty of no sin.
3 The temple police were unable (or unwilling) to arrest Jesus in broad daylight (John 7:44-46). The Jewish leaders wanted to make sure that Jesus was arrested this time, so they also sent along an additional detachment of soldiers.

A detachment could have been up to 600 soldiers, but most believe that only a portion of that number would have been needed. These soldiers were probably stationed in the Antonia, on the north side of the temple area. These had apparently been put at the disposal of the Sanhedrin in the event that unrest broke out during the Passover.

From this point on we see the religious leaders using the secular government to carry out their plans. Though they generally despised Roman rule, it proved useful to them in this matter. The fact that there were government sympathizers (e.g., the Herodians) among the Jewish leadership probably facilitated this use of Roman power.

4 John makes a point of indicating that Jesus knew precisely what was going to happen to Him.

Judas may have already betrayed Jesus with the kiss and now Jesus goes forward to present Himself to the soldiers.

5 Judas now stood clearly with the enemy.

The soldier's answer indicates that either he did not know who Jesus was, or the light was too dim to recognize Him.

6 Jesus invokes the Divine "I Am," the name God said that Moses should call Him (Exo 3:14). The Jews in the group may have fallen back because of the implications of the Name. Perhaps it was a small show of divine power. Jesus could have destroyed them if He wanted to, but He did not prevent the arrest. Instead, Jesus gave Himself up voluntarily.
8 Jesus asks a second time who they are seeking. Perhaps He is mildly mocking their sudden lack of resolve, but He also wants to clarify that since they are after Him alone they should not take His disciples with Him.
9 John 17:12
10 Luke 22:38 indicates that the disciples had managed to produce weapons at the Last Supper. Having misunderstood what Jesus had spoken about some felt that Jesus would engage the Romans in battle and set up His kingdom that day. Of course, Jesus had spoken symbolically of the troubled times ahead.

Malchus was a slave of the high priest. John seems to have known first-hand some of the details of the inner workings of the Sanhedrin, and the people involved.

Peter was one fisherman against a group of trained soldiers, but he somehow thought he could defeat them in his own power. Ironically, instead of attacking a soldier, Peter attacks an unarmed slave. Fortunately, Jesus intervenes and prevents Peter from carrying out this ill-planned attack.

11 Peter could have easily been arrested, but the rebuke stops Peter and Jesus heals the ear of the slave (Luke 22:51). Since no permanent harm was done, Peter is left to flee along with the other disciples while Jesus is arrested.
13 Annas had previously been appointed as the high priest by Quirinius, but was later deposed by a later Roman governor. While his son-in-law was now high priest, the Jews still esteemed Annas with the title. Annas ruled the Sanhedrin, and was a Sadducee.
14 John 11:49-52.
15 John is thought to be the unnamed disciple. He was recognized by people close to the Sanhedrin and allowed to view the proceedings. Some have speculated that his father, Zebedee, was at one time involved in the Sanhedrin.
16 John uses the influence he had to get Peter in to view the proceedings.
17 As the door attendant was letting Peter enter, she questioned whether he was a disciple or not. She may have been instructed not to allow any of Jesus' followers in. Peter's first denial may have been a lie to get him through the door, rather than mere intimidation (although it may have played a part). It is interesting that Peter had transformed from the sword wielding man ready to take on the Roman army to a man sneaking around, attempting to avoid suspicion.
18 It was early on a spring morning, the coldest part of the day. Those who had gone out to arrest Jesus stayed for the trial. Ironically, Peter joins the very group of men he had desired to wage war against in the garden a little earlier.
19 The Sanhedrin (and specifically the high priest) had already decided that Jesus should be executed during a previous illegal trial. The high priest had never heard Jesus himself, and asked Him about these things now. This was not questioning for testimony, however. The high priest was obviously looking for anything that they could charge Jesus with to justify their previous determination to execute Him.
20 Although Annas had never heard Him preach, Jesus knew that the high priest always had spies watching Him.
21 Various Jewish leaders and Temple guards had heard Jesus. The leaders could have testified that they could not trap Jesus with their trick questions. The Temple guards could have testified that what Jesus said dissuaded them from obeying the previous command to arrest Jesus. It was not essential that Jesus testify about Himself at the trial. The Law of Moses required two agreeing witnesses to convict, and Jesus insisted that the witnesses be among the number of people who heard Him. He already knew that the witnesses could not convict Him because He had lived perfectly.
22 Jesus' answer was not incorrect, but it did expose the trial as a sham. The nearby officer was offended that Jesus would not answer the questions Himself, and struck Him illegally.
24 Annas, of course, had made up his mind that Jesus was guilty even before he met Him.

Annas was still considered the high priest by many of the Jews, but the Romans had installed Caiaphas as the official high priest. Thus, if they were going to use the Romans to carry out their plan to execute Jesus, it would work better coming from Caiaphas.

25 The trial had not gone well for Jesus, and Peter now found himself deep in enemy territory. Standing with the very men who arrested Jesus, Peter suddenly became very frightened that he might be arrested and tried. Although he had boasted of his loyalty unto death, he caves in under the pressure and denies that he is a disciple.
26 To Peter's misfortune, someone recognizes him. It would be hard to forget the face of someone who attacked one of you relatives.
27 Peter immediately saw that he was in danger not only because of his association with Jesus, but also because there were many witnesses that could testify to his attempted murder of the high priest's servant. Peter now fervently denies any association, but stops cold when he hears the rooster crow (Mat 26:74). Just as Jesus had predicted, Peter would deny Jesus three times that morning (John 13:38). Peter now saw that his boastful facade made him a fraud. He escaped and was deeply embittered by his behavior (Mat 26:75).
28 According to their traditions, the Jews could not convict someone of a crime at night. Since they had already decided the verdict, they charged Him at the first light of day and took Him to the Roman authorities.

The Praetorium was the Roman barracks and the residence of Pilate. The Jews would be ceremonially unclean if they entered a Gentile dwelling, so they troubled Pilate to come out to them. True-to-form, the religious leaders were outwardly pious, while inside they were bloodthirsty murderers.

29 Pilate and the Jews had a mutual dislike for each other. The Jews wake him up in the early morning (certainly annoying if he was not already up) and demand the death of a man. Pilate had undoubtedly executed many Jews, but usually on the grounds of treason to Rome. In this particular case, the Jews did not bring a clear charge against Jesus, so Pilate wanted more information.

Because of the Jews' distaste for Roman authority, it was probably a rare instance of the Jews asking a favor like this from Rome.

30 The Jews knew they did not have a charge against Jesus that the Romans would take seriously, so they flippantly imply that Pilate should simply believe that they would not ask for an execution if there was not a good reason for it.
31 Pilate got the idea that this was a religious case, and one that he was not interested in trying. The Jews insisted that they had done so, and by Jewish law Jesus should be executed. However, when the Romans took over, they removed the authority of the Jewish law to use capital punishment.

This verse confirms the prophecy of Israel to his son, Judah; in Gen 49:10. The right to execute judgement rested with the tribe of Judah until the time of Jesus, when the Romans took that right away. However, that authority is held by Jesus now, and He will use that authority on Judgement Day.

32 The Jewish method of capital punishment was by stoning. The Roman method was by crucifixion. Jesus said He would be "lifted up" to die in John 3:14. In keeping with the requirements for the Passover lamb, none of His bones would be broken by crucifixion, while stoning would have guaranteed broken bones (Exo 12:46).
33 Though not explicitly said here, the Jews pulled out their trump card and accused Jesus of treason against Rome because He said He was the Messiah -- the prophesied King of Judah. Not satisfied with his interview with the Jews, Pilate decides to question Jesus alone inside the Praetorium.
34 Jesus does not answer directly, but asks Pilate if this accusation was based on anything he had seen, or was merely what he heard from the religious leaders.
35 Although we know that he was expressing the Jewish leaders' opinion, Pilate becomes defensive and implies that he would not hold the Jewish position since he was not a Jew. Instead, he shifts the blame for that accusation back to the Jews and then asks again what Jesus might have done to deserve capital punishment.
36 Jesus goes back to the question of kingship. Jesus implies that He is a king, but it is not (yet) an earthly kingdom. If He did have an earthly kingdom, he would have an army to defend Him. Obviously, Jesus had no army.
37 Pilate picks up on the idea of being a king from somewhere else. Although it appears that Pilate misunderstood the spiritual implication of Jesus' statement, Jesus does confirm that He is a king. Then Jesus speaks of His kingdom being based on truth. Those who desire to know the truth listen to Jesus.
38 Pilate's question about truth foreshadows what is about to happen. Both the religious and political laws were going to kill Jesus although there were no charges against Him. The "truth" did not seem to matter in the case of Jesus. The Jews were more interested in their self-righteous traditions, and the Romans were more interested in keeping the peace. Throughout the rest of this situation, it appears that Pilate wants to do what is "right," but the political pressure eventually becomes more important.

Pilate saw that Jesus was no political threat to Rome, and therefore could not be legally executed. He gives this opinion to the Jews.

39 Anticipating that the religious leaders would not accept this verdict, Pilate tries a clever rouse. In a separate instance of goodwill towards the Jews, it had become a tradition for the Romans to free a prisoner on the Passover. Pilate undoubtedly heard that Jesus was popular with the common people, and it was the common people who chose who was released. So, although Pilate declared Jesus innocent, He is presented before the people as if He were a guilty man.
40 The other gospels tell how Pilate allowed the people to choose between Jesus and a notorious patriot fighter named Barabbas. Perhaps this was not the best choice of prisoners if Pilate thought that Jesus would be the more popular of the two. Barabbas would have been considered a hero among the Jews. The other gospels tell how the religious leaders stirred up the people, probably by contrasting Barabbas' open fighting against Rome to Jesus' passivity. In the end, they chose Barabbas to be freed and inexplicably called for Jesus' crucifixion. Pilate's plan had backfired, and was forced into a position of punishing a man he had already declared not guilty.