Five unexpected profiles emerge from John 18. Do you see reflections of yourself in any of the profiles? John could have simply said that Jesus was unjustly betrayed, arrested, tried, and crucified. But instead, he takes eighty-four verses to unfold the drama in a striking narrative.
1. There is a betrayer who estimates Jesus’ worth to be thirty pieces of silver. Judas tried to gain the world but forfeited his soul.
2. There is a disciple armed with a sword and self-confidence who is willing to impulsively swing both. He overestimates himself in John 13 when he said he’d follow Jesus even at the cost of his own life. But now Peter faces the frailty of his own followship, and he’s not quite willing to pay the price, at least not yet.
3. There is a high priest and his father-in-law (a former high priest) who have put a price on Jesus’ head. Annas and Caiaphas think Jesus is worthy of death. They’ve bowed to Rome to accomplish their corrupt agenda and these two religious power-brokers will do anything to keep their wealth, power, and influence. They made it very clear that Caesar is their god.
4. The man who takes center-stage at this drama is a Roman governor who realizes the case brought against Jesus is groundless. He cynically asks, “What is truth?” He does not wait for an answer even though he’s interrogating “the Truth.” Pilate weighs truth in the balances and by his choices proves his moral compass is worthless.
5. There is an insurrectionist who sits imprisoned. He is a clear threat to Rome. His name in Aramaic means “son of the father.” Barabbas, however, will be set free as “the Son of the Father” will be unjustly condemned. This snapshot of the gospel is exactly what Peter explains in 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”
John 19-21 tells the rest of the story, and it’s Good News!