December 25th, 2006
Happy Christmas. Nearly everyone knows that the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about Santa and Rudolph the Reindeer and Jingle Bells and buying lots and lots of stuff at the shopping centre. No, everyone knows that the true meaning of Christmas is about the baby Jesus and nativity scenes and Mary and Joseph and angels and shepherds and cute sheep and donkeys and a manger and carols by candlelight. But why was Jesus born in the first place? Why did he come to earth? This is what he said in response to Pontius Pilate’s questioning: “The reason I was born and the reason I came into the world, was so that I could give evidence about the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
John’s Account of the Good News — Chapter 18
18:1 When Jesus had said this, he took his disciples to a garden on the other side of the Kidron valley. 18:2 Judas, who betrayed him, was familiar with the place because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 18:3 Judas arrived with a detachment of soldiers and officers provided by the senior priests and Pharisees, carrying lanterns, torches, and weapons. 18:4 Jesus, knowing everything that was about to happen to him, went up and said to them, “Who are you looking for?”
18:5 They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “That’s me.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 18:6 When Jesus said to them, “That’s me,” they fell backwards to the ground. 18:7 He asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 18:8 Jesus said, “I told you that that’s me. If you’re looking for me, let these others go.” 18:9 This fulfilled his prediction, “I have lost none of those whom you have given me.”
18:10 Simon Peter pulled out a sword and slashed at the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. 18:11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into its sheath. Won’t I drink the cup which the Father has given me?” 18:12 So the detachment, the commanding officer, and the temple guard arrested Jesus and tied him up. 18:13 They took him first to Annas, who was father-in-law to Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 18:14 Caiaphas was the one who advised the Jews that it was better for one man to die for the people. 18:15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another disciple. That disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 18:16 but Peter was standing outside near the door. So the other disciple who was known to the high priest went out and spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought in Peter. 18:17 The woman who guarded the gate asked Peter, “Are you also one of this man’s disciples?” He said, “I am not.”
18:18 The servants and the officers who were standing there had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold. They were warming themselves. Peter was standing and warming himself with them. 18:19 The high priest cross-examined Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 18:20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where Jewish people meet. I have said nothing in secret. 18:21 Why do you ask me? Ask the people who heard me what I said to them. They know the things which I said.” 18:22 When he had said this, one of the officers standing by slapped Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” 18:23 Jesus answered, “If I said anything wrong, tell me what it is, but if I told the truth why do you hit me?”
18:24 Annas sent him tied up to Caiaphas, the high priest. 18:25 Simon Peter was still standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You aren’t also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” 18:26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” 18:27 Peter denied it again, and immediately the rooster crowed.
18:28 They led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Roman headquarters. It was early, and they themselves stayed out of the Roman headquarters, because they did not want to become ceremonially unclean, which would have prevented them from eating the Passover. 18:29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charge do you bring against this man?” 18:30 They answered, “If this man wasn’t a criminal, we wouldn’t have brought him to you.” 18:31 So Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” But the Jews said to him, “We do not have the right to put anyone to death.” 18:32 This fulfilled Jesus’s prediction about how he would die.
18:33 Pilate went back into the Roman headquarters, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 18:34 Jesus replied, “Do you say this by yourself, or did others tell you about me?” 18:35 Pilate said, “I’m not a Jew, am I? Your own people and the senior priests brought you to me. What have you done?” 18:36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom does not belong to this world. If my Kingdom belonged to this world, my servants would fight to prevent me being handed over to the Jews. No, my Kingdom does not belong to this place.”
18:37 Pilate asked him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. The reason I was born and the reason I came into the world was so that I could give evidence about the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 18:38 Pilate said, “What is truth?” After saying this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 18:39 You have a custom which requires me to release someone to you at the Passover. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 18:40 Then they all shouted out, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Barabbas was a robber.
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