Some people have challenged the Passion account in John because of its difference to the other gospel accounts. We should note, though, that Jesus follows the same core narrative in each gospel. The core is:
- Jesus and the disciples depart from the city for a location on the West side of the Mount of Olives.
- Judas arrives with a crowd to take Jesus into custody.
- Jesus is examined by the Roman Pontius Pilate
- Pilate infers Jesus’ innocence and offers to release one of his prisoners
- the crowd calls for Barabbas’s release
- Pilate gives the order of death for Jesus
- Jesus is crucified with two mean
- the soldiers divide Jesus’ clothes among themselves
- Jesus is offered wine
- Jesus dies
- Joseph of Arimathea requests Jesus’ body for burial (Burge)
So what does John leave out?
- the betrayal with a kiss
- Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane
- the sleepiness of the disciples
- the healing of the servant’s ear
- Simon of Cyrene
- the mocking crowds
- Jesus’ cry from the cross (Burge)
However, John adds his own details:
- Roman soldiers falling to the ground in the arrest scene when Jesus identifies himself
- Jesus’ conversation with Annas
- Jesus’ conversation with Pilate
- John’s emphasis on the inscription on the cross
- a full description of Jesus’ garments
- Mary given to the Beloved Disciple at the cross
- Jesus’ body threatened with the breaking of his legs
- Jesus pierced with a slodier’s lance
- Nicodemus’s joining Joseph at Jesus’ burial (Burge)
1When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 3So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
5“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 6When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
7Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.” 9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”[a]
10Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
Peter’s First Denial
15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
17“You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”
18It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
The High Priest Questions Jesus
19Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Peter’s Second and Third Denials
25Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
Jesus Before Pilate
28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?”
30“If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.”
31Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
“But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.
33Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
34“Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?”
35“Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
36Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.
1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
6As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”
7The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
12From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
- Look and see if you can see how John alternates the scenes from inside to outside. Why do you think he would do that?
- Why do you think Peter denied Jesus?
- What does Pilate as Jesus to define? How are Pilate and Jesus coming at truth from different angles?
- How could you think of the truth from God’s perspective more often?
- How do you act concerning God when you are under pressure?
Watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Which elements are taken from the book of John? How does Mel’s interpretation help? How does it hinder?