The Passion of JohnThe Arrest of Jesus—Before Midnight
1-2: The reference to the Kidron valley is a double symbolic reference to death:
n Literally in the Greek it is a reference to winter, a “dead” time of year
n “Crossing the Kidron” was an ancient aphorism for drawing near to death. Someone who was near death was said to have “crossed the Kidron.” Comes from 1 Kings 2:37.
The garden evokes images of the Garden of Eden, from which sin entered the entire world. Notice the “going out” of the private home and “going in” to the garden. In verse 4, Jesus “goes out” of the garden to face the accuser.
3: The Greek verb form, Judas “takes” the cohort of soldiers, and “comes” to where Jesus is, parallels the use of the verbs in 14:29, 30 in which Jesus speaks of the “Ruler of this World,” Satan. Events will “take” place as Satan “comes”. Judas is the personification of Satan in this section. The lanterns and torches are needed because of the darkness.
5, 6, 8: Christ’s divinity is played out in a couple of images:
n “I AM.” Greek “Ego Eimi.” The Name of God. It parallels Peter’s denial, who 3 times says, “I am not.”
n The soldiers fell backwards:
o Christ’s power causes an entire legion of army officers to stumble backwards over themselves. If with a simple word Christ could cause the collapse of this army unit, he could not be taken by them unwillingly.
o The phrase, “fell backwards” or “went backwards” is used only one other time in the gospel: 6:66—when many disciples “returned” to their former way of life after the bread of life discourse. This phrase in its Greek form takes on the meaning of rejection because of unbelief.
o Their falling backwards becomes an image of Christ as the presence of God “going out” to conquer the powers of darkness in the world
n In verse 8, Jesus offers himself for the sake of the disciples. By allowing himself to be put in chains, he sets his disciples free.
9: By speaking of the “fulfillment” of Jesus’ word, it sets up what Jesus has said as equal to the divinely inspired scriptures. The scriptures are the Word of God, and the words of Jesus are the Word of God.
Peter and the Sword:
n Of all the soldiers (of darkness) who are carrying weapons, it is Peter, the disciple of Jesus who also is carrying and weapon and uses it.
n “The servant of the high priest”:
o When seen in the Greek, means literally an ambassador, not just a slave. This person was a personal representative of the high priest, probably someone within Caiaphas’ inner circle.
o “Malchus”—means king. Peter is striking at an earthly “king.” Brings the themes of king and kingship out, but we see Peter as lacking understanding of what Jesus’ kingship truly means.
o “Right ear” was considered the more important of the two. In ancient semitic culture, the left was always considered weaker than the right. The loss of the right ear means a major loss of hearing. Symbolic of the high priests rejection of God’s word.
Peter’s denial and the disciples
John 18:15-18, 25-27
n There could be three disciples depicted in this passage in vs. 15:
o Another disciple
o The other disciple—“the disciple whom Jesus loved”—Or this one could be Judas as well, the text tells us that this disciple is known to the high priest.
o There is a deliberate ambiguity on the part of the gospel writer when it comes to the betrayer and “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
§ In John’s gospel, Judas and Peter are often grouped together: 6:68-71; 13:1-11, 21-30.
§ In John 13:21-30—The role of Judas and the disciple whom Jesus loved could be the same person: While Jesus told the unnamed disciple the one to whom Jesus gave the morsel was the betrayer, then handed to Judas the morsel, no other disciple knew what was going on between them, or why Judas left the feast.
§ This confusion demonstrates the universality of the disciples’ betrayal of their master.
§ Judas, the personification of Satan, leads Peter to his sin of denial of God by leading him into the courtyard. The Greek word for courtyard is also the Greek word for fold. Judas led Peter into the courtyard/fold of the high priest. Contrast Jesus as the Good Shepherd, lead his fold, and the high priest as the antithesis of Jesus and his fold.
n Peter seeks to find comfort next to a fire, the artificial light provided by the high priest, rather than the true light of Christ. Peter begins “to stand with” the high priest’s servants.
n The fact that the disciple who leads Peter into this dangerous situation is not named forces the question, “Who is it?” and should lead us to the answer that it could be anybody.
n Peter denies Jesus by saying the exact opposite of what Jesus said when he was arrested: Jesus: “I AM.” Peter: “I am not.” The final “not I” is not spoken by Peter, however, but by the servant of the high priest, and a relative of Malchus, whose ear Peter had severed. By linguistically identifying Peter with this servant, and then identifying the servant with one who arrested Jesus, we seea deliberate parallel use of language to identify Peter with those who had arrested Jesus in the garden. Peter is no longer Jesus’ disciple, but rather initiated into the powers of darkness. Peter’s entrance into darkness is symbolized by the cock crow. According to Roman chronology, the “hour of cock crow” was midnight to 3 am, the darkest hours of the night.
The Interrogation of Jesus by the High Priests—3 am to 6 am
John 18:12-14, 19-24
n “High Priests”—when experienced in the plural, as in these passages, the term “high priests” meant all those who belonged to the privileged, Jewish priestly families.
n The roles of Annas and Caiaphas
o Jesus is taken immediately, not to the presiding high priest, but the former high priest Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas.
o It is Annas who questions Jesus, not Caiaphas.
o It is Annas who binds Jesus and sends him to Caiaphas, who simply turns Jesus over to the Roman authorities. Caiaphas has no role in Jesus’ trial.
o Even the few words of Caiaphas that are recorded are not his own, counseled the Jews that it was better to have on man die than all the people. Reference to Caiaphas prophesying in his role as high priest, rather than speaking anything original.
o Within these contexts, and within the dialogue, while Jesus is the one who is bound, it is really the high priests who lack freedom.
n At the actual interrogation scene, the reader is confused as to who is actually interrogating Jesus, Annas or Caiaphas. This is a deliberate attempt to obscure, “darken,” the character of the interrogator. The inquisitor is a being of darkness.
n Jesus response throughout the interrogation affirms Jesus public Revelation and is Revelation itself, expressed “publicly to the world,” “where all…gather,” and having said nothing in secret.
The Trial before Pilate—morning: 6 am to 9 am
n “It was dawn.” John’s use of light points to a new day opening onto the world. Coincides with Jesus Revelation to the Gentile Pontius Pilate.
n They refuse to enter because of a ritualistic purity law. In fact, there is no record of any law such as this existing.
n Jesus is inside the praetorium while the Jews remain outside.
n Pilate, rather than forcing the Jews to enter the praetorium, goes out to them. Leads us to the question, “In this situation, who really holds the power?” Of course, the answer is the Jews, and so we get a foreshadowing of who will make the decision concerning Jesus’ life.
n Pilate’s question: “What charge do you bring against this person?”
o If a Roman guard had been dispatched to help in the arrest of Jesus as is suggested by the language, Pilate would have had to authorize it. This meant that the Jews would have already had to answer this question to him. This lends to the effect of this being a false trial.
n The Jews’ response: the verb used, “handed over,” is the same verb that is used to describe Judas’s action of “handing over” Jesus to the high council. Judas “handed over” Jesus because Satan possessed him. So the ultimate source of betrayal is Satan, who makes use of human instruments.
n The Romans had taken away the authority of the Sanhedrin to apply the death penalty.
n There is an interesting juxtaposition of the idea of law and death in this passage. Those who want to kill are using the law that forbids killing in the 5th Commandment. It is the law that is supposed to be for the protection of life that seals the death sentence for Jesus.
n This extreme moral disorder and misuse of law cannot nullify the word of Jesus, however, whose word is fulfilled when he is “lifted up” (John 3:14, 8:28, 12:32-33). It is the law that causes him to be executed Roman-style, through crucifixion, thus showing that he has come “not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.”
n Pilate is portrayed as the antithesis of Jesus:
o Pilate’s question of Jesus’ concerning Jesus kingship is based on a worldly, political, violent notion of kingship.
o Jesus’ response question’s Pilate’s authority and identity.
o Pilate’s response to Jesus is an admission that the Jews have authority and are pressuring Pilate, who lacks the self-knowledge and assurance he needs to do what is right.
o Jesus makes a clear statement of his identity, both of human and divine origin, “For this I was born…” speaks of his human birth, “and for this I came into the world…” speaks of his divine origin.
o The triple use of the word “truth” in the exchange between Pilate and Jesus is a reference to Jesus’ final discourse in John chapters 15-17, and especially his triple use of the word truth. “What is truth?” Jesus is the truth, once again, we see Jesus revealing himself to someone who does not receive the revelation.
n Pilate offers the Jews Jesus as a king. A public revelation that happens “outside.” The kingdom of Jesus is one of truth, innocence, and freedom. They reject the kingship of Christ for the kingship of violence and servitude of the thief Barrabas.
The scourging of Jesus
n This is a brutal act that was unnecessary for execution. To bring in Luke’s account, Pilate hoped that the scourging would appease the Jews.
n The account of the scourging deliberately includes the gentiles in the guilt of the Jews for the treatment of Jesus.
o In Greek, literally, it says, “Pilate took Jesus out and scourged him,” thus implicating Pilate in the scourging.
o The soldiers who actually scourged him are implicated by their participation in the act, “they struck him repeatedly.”
o The mocking of Jesus holds a two-fold significance:
§ The gentiles mock the Jewish idea of a Jewish king who would lead them to independence
§ Sets up the contrast between the gentiles now mocking Jesus and later the gentiles reverencing him after the resurrection.
o Jesus has not been found guilty at the time of the scourging, so they are participating in the brutal beating of an innocent man even according to their own law.
o The scourging emphasizes the universality of guilt for Jesus crucifixion. No one is exempt from it.
The Condemnation of Jesus
n “Behold, the man!” This is a reference to Jesus’ constant use of the term “Son of Man” which is a messianic title. The “Son of Man” reference is to Daniel’s “Son of Man”, which is the glorious appearance depicted in the synoptic accounts of the Transfiguration. John’s transfiguration, rather than having Jesus dressed in white and his face brilliant like light, has Jesus dressed in purple and his face beaten and bloodied. We will see over and over again the idea of glorification, not in the usual sense, but in John’s sense of the crucifixion.
n Jesus role as the glorified Son of Man in this passage is highlighted by the Jews reference now to his claim to be “Son of God.”
n Pilate’s and the Jews’ role reversal:
o When Pilate hears that Jesus is the Son of God, he is filled with a reverential fear.
o The Jews become the political adversaries, by shrewdly using the title “Friend of Caesar.” This title was an honor given to loyal and trustworthy members of Caesar’s cohort.
n Jesus, however, remains faithful to his role as king and judge. While Pilate assumes more knowledge than Jesus, Jesus is the teacher, “You have no authority except that which is given from above.” While Pilate assumes the power to judge, Jesus is the judge, “The one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” Pilate, unwittingly acknowledges Jesus role as ruler and judge by seating him on the judge’s bench when they go back out to the crowd. Pilate introduces Jesus, “Behold, your king!” Parallels his introduction at the beginning of this passage.
n Pilate “hands over” Jesus to be crucified, completing the work of Satan, who acted first through Judas, then through the Sanhedrin, and now through Pilate.
n Gabbatha, “The Stone Pavement”—Stone is always associated with sin and death in John’s gospel, disbelief of the stone-throwing Judeans in 8:59, 10:31-33, and 11:8, and with Lazarus in the stone rolled over the tomb.
n It was preparation day for the Passover and about noon. This was the hour in which the Passover lambs were “prepared,” that is slaughtered in the temple by the priests. That Jesus condemnation took place on a raised stone terrace, on this day, at this hour emphasizes Jesus role as the Lamb of God, heralded by John the Baptist in chapter 1.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
n “So they took Jesus…” They who? The Jews or the Romans? Both? This is left deliberately vague in order to give anonymity to those who crucified Jesus. The use of anonymity in John’s gospel is often meant to be interpreted as “us.”
n “Taking the cross himself..” Reference to John 10:18.
n “Went out” again, this time to Golgatha. The references to “going out” always demonstrates some form of public revelation, opposed to “going in,” which points toward a private revelation.
n The reference to Golgatha mirrors the reference to Gabbatha, “Jesus…out…to…a place…called…in Hebrew…” Both names refer to a raised place, which means an ascent so Jesus is raised up (resurrection), he ascends (ascension), and the reference to two crucified, one on his left, and one on his right (references two aspects: 1. judgment and Good Shepherd who separates sheep from goats; 2. that Jesus would draw all people to himself: John 12:32).
n The proclamation: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. It was customary to post the crime of the individual crucified. This serves as a revelation to the world of Christ’s kingship.
o The fact that the phrase “was written” appears twice implies a two fold meaning.
§ It was written and the Jews read it, they are forced to accept the proclamation.
§ It was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek speaks to the universality of Christ’s kingship.
n The taking of Jesus clothes is reminiscent of the washing of the feet, where Jesus stripped himself of his clothes to become the servant of all. In the crucifixion, the king is stripped of his clothes as he lays down his life for his people.
n That the garments were divided into four parts is a symbol of universality, reference to the four corners of the world. That the unseemed garment remains whole is a reference to the indivisibility of the Christian people; it is woven “from the top down.” Though the kingdom is universal, covering the four corners of the earth, it is still a united ki
n ngdom that cannot be broken apart. And it is a kingdom that comes from God to us.
n Jesus gives the Blessed Mother to the disciple as mother, and from “that hour” he takes him into his home.
o The Blessed Mother can be representative of post-resurrection Jewish Christianity, while the disciple can represent Christianity that grew up among the gentiles.
o The disciple, of course, represents in his anonymity all disciples, who called to invite the Blessed Mother into their homes.
o Use of the word, woman, in addressing the Blessed Mother
§ References the miracle at Cana, in which Jesus calls his mother “woman.”
§ Reminiscent of the word used to describe the woman of Genesis before the fall. She was not named until after the fall, until then, in her innocence, she is called only, “the woman.”
The Death of Jesus
n “I thirst.” Reminds us of the scriptures. Hyssop used to administer the wine to Jesus is reminds us of Psalm 51, and the act of washing or cleansing. Wine becomes an image of blood, of course, in John’s eucharistic theology. Hear we have an instrument of cleansing and the blood in the form of wine.
n “It is finished.” The idea of consummation in John’s theology of Christ as bridegroom. A completion of the wedding banquet that began Christ’s revelation. Here, the groom consummates his relationship with the bride through the total self-gift of himself.
n Breaking of the legs was meant to speed up the process of crucifixion.
n Blood and water
o Eucharist and Baptism
o Source of the Church
n The testimony of the eyewitness creates the sensation of a legal document that would stand up in a court of law. Reminiscent of the beginning of the gospel.
n Emphasis once again on the parallel between the Passover lambs and Jesus.
n Jesus is the fulfillment of all scripture.
The Burial of Jesus
n The care of Joseph of Arimethea for the body of Jesus shows a marked contrast with the Jews. He specifically asks for the body of Jesus. He anoints the body and wraps it for burial, which takes place in an unused tomb. This is the distinction between the disciple and those who were not. While those who were not disciples saw only destruction and death, the disciple sees beauty and acts with reverence.
n Nicodemus is a happy ending character. Confused earlier in the gospel, we see him acting here as a true disciple.
n The tomb of Christ is in a garden, near the place of death. Jesus returns to a garden (Eden), and new life begins immediately.
n The amount of nard used to anoint Jesus is lavish, an amount that would have only been used for a king.
List of all Reflections:
|09/24/2014||26th Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|09/23/2014||25th Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|02/11/2014||Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|01/29/2014||Presentation of the Lord|
|01/22/2014||Third Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|01/15/2014||Second Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|01/09/2014||The Baptism of the Lord|
|12/11/2013||Third Sunday in Advent|
|10/30/2013||October 6, 2013|
|10/23/2013||October 27, 2013|
|10/16/2013||October 20, 2013|
|10/09/2013||October 13, 2013|
|09/23/2013||September 29, 2013|
|08/21/2013||August 25, 2013 - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|10/31/2012||November 4, 2012 - Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|10/24/2012||October 28, 2012-Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|10/17/2012||October 21, 2012-Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|02/29/2012||Second Sunday of Lent|
|01/18/2012||Third Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|08/17/2010||August 22, 2010|
|08/12/2010||Assumption of Mary|
The Birthday of the Church|
|05/29/2008||Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|10/16/2006||29th Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|10/13/2006||28th Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|06/28/2006||Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time|
|01/23/2006||January 29th, 2006|
|01/16/2006||January 22nd, 2006|
|01/09/2006||January 15th, 2006|
|12/28/2005||New Years Day|
|11/21/2005||First Sunday of Advent|
|11/14/2005||Solemnity of Christ the King|
|11/09/2005||November 13, 2005|
|09/27/2005||October 2, 2005|
|09/19/2005||September 25, 2005|
|09/13/2005||September 18, 2005|
|09/05/2005||September 11, 2005|
|08/31/2005||September 4, 2005|
|07/11/2005||July 17, 2005|
|07/07/2005||July 10, 2005|
|07/06/2005||July 3, 2005|
|06/21/2005||June 26, 2005|
|06/14/2005||June 19th, 2005|
|05/23/2005||Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ|
|05/16/2005||Holy Trinity Sunday|
|05/05/2005||May 8, 2005|
|04/26/2005||May 1st, 2005|
|04/18/2005||Fifth Sunday of Easter|
|04/11/2005||Fourth Sunday of Easter|
|04/06/2005||THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER|
|04/06/2005||Divine Mercy Sunday|
|04/05/2005||Holy Thursday Homily|
|03/25/2005||The Passion of John|
|03/07/2005||FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT|
|02/28/2005||Fourth Sunday of Lent|
|02/23/2005||Third Sunday of Lent|
|02/14/2005||Second Sunday of Lent|
|02/10/2005||First Sunday of Lent|
|01/31/2005||Feb. 6, 2005|
|01/24/2005||January 30th, 2005|
|01/17/2005||January 23, 2005|
|01/10/2005||January 16, 2005|
|01/05/2005||January 9th, 2005|
|01/02/2005||January 2, 2005|
|12/28/2004||Mary, Mother of God - Jan. 1st|
|12/26/2004||Feast of the Holy Family|
|12/13/2004||Fourth Sunday of Advent
Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14. Psalm 24: 1-6.
Romans 1:1-7. Matthew 1:18-24.|
|12/06/2004||Third Sunday of Advent
Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10. Psalm 146:6-10.
James 5:7-10. Matthew 11:2-11.
|12/01/2004||Second Sunday of Advent
Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10. Psalm 72, 1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17.
Romans 15:4-9. Matthew 3: 1-12|
|11/29/2004||First Sunday of Advent
Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5. Psalm 122:1-9.
Romans 13:11-14. Matthew 24:37-44.|
|11/22/2004||The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King
2 Samuel 5:1-3, Psalm 122:1-5,
Colossians 1:12-20, Luke 23:35-43|