10. Jesus' arrest and appearance at court

Jesus' arrest and appearance at court

Part 10 of an EasyEnglish Bible Study Course on the Life of Christ


 A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

Jesus' problems with the Jewish rulers

Barrie Wetherill

As the time came nearer for Jesus to die, he had more and more difficulties to think about.

From the beginning, Jesus was in disagreement with the rulers. At that time most Jews thought that the *Messiah would be a strong soldier. He would free them from all their enemies. He would change the way that they lived. There would be freedom from the rule of their enemies. But the Jews were not expecting that the *Messiah would change their thoughts and attitudes.

Disagreements about God's law

Many Jewish rulers were *Pharisees. The *Pharisees understood the law of the Jews in the same way. They thought that it was only about behaviour. For example, the Bible says, 'Do not murder.' The *Pharisees knew that a murderer broke this law. But they did not realise that someone's cruel thoughts could also break this law. They thought that the command against adultery meant only the act of adultery. [Adultery means sex with someone else's husband or wife.] They did not think that these commands were also about thoughts. But wrong thoughts tempt people to do wrong actions.


In Matthew, we read what Jesus taught on a mountain. We call this 'the Sermon on the Mount.’ Jesus taught people that the law was about more than our behaviour. For example, one command is: 'Do not murder’. Jesus taught that anger against other people would break this law. The command against adultery included wrong sexy thoughts when we look at anyone (Matthew 5:27,28). These commands are like words on a sign. These commands show us how to live. They point to God’s standard. God is perfect, and he wants us to be perfect too. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus showed that the *Pharisees had wrong ideas about the law. They said that behaviour is important. They thought that the ceremonies of religion were important. They did not think about the thoughts of men. Jesus showed that often they wanted to avoid the correct meaning of the law. (Matthew 15:3-9)

Disagreements about the Sabbath [holy day]

The *Pharisees were very strict about the Sabbath. [The Sabbath was the 7th day of the week, which was the holy day for the Jews.] The *Pharisees were very angry when Jesus cured anyone on the Sabbath. (See. Matthew 12:9-14, especially verse 14). But they did not realise clearly that the law tells us to love other people.

Disagreements about traditions

There was another matter for disagreement. The *Pharisees said that everybody should wash their hands before food. This was their tradition. Today, it might seem unimportant. But the *Pharisees thought that small things like this were very important. Jesus answered this by these words:

Matthew 15:18-20 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart. These are the things that make someone 'unclean’. [By unclean Jesus meant evil, or bad.] All these things begin in a person's heart: [We might use the word 'mind' instead of 'heart' today]

Evil thoughts Murder Sex with another man's wife Any sex when the couple do not obey God's rules Theft [that is, when a person steals something] Lies Untrue words about other people

This is the behaviour that makes someone 'unclean’ [evil or bad]. If you do not wash your hands before a meal, that does not make you 'unclean’ [evil or bad].

Jesus came to deal with the problem that is deep inside us. It is the problem of *sin. There were many disagreements. Every time, Jesus had an answer to the problem. Always, he showed that the *Pharisees did not understand God’s law.

As time went on, the number of these arguments and disagreements increased. We can read about them especially in the Book of Matthew.

Disagreements about Jesus' importance

There was a very important disagreement on Palm Sunday. [That was when Jesus rode in to Jerusalem, like a king, but in peace. People waved the branches of trees (called palm trees) as a welcome.] The crowd sang, '*Hosanna to the *Son of David’ (Mat 21:15-17). *Prophets had said that the *Messiah would have a welcome like this. But the *Pharisees were very angry.

Everything that happened in the last week, made matters worse. At last, the *Pharisees asked Jesus what his authority was. What was his authority for what he taught? What was his authority for what he did? For example, he had forced the evil traders to leave the *temple (Matthew 21:23- 27). They hoped that Jesus would make mistakes in his answers. He never did. Jesus showed that he was wiser than they were. After this, they asked no more questions. They decided that they had to kill Jesus. That was the only way to keep their own power over the people. They thought that their power mattered more than Jesus' life.

By this time, Jesus had only very strong words to say to these people. He warned them that there would be a time of *judgement to come. See Matthew 23.

Jesus' problems with the crowds The people did not want to change the way that they lived

For a time, Jesus was very popular with crowds. Many people came because they wanted Jesus to cure them. And Jesus did cure them. He told people not to speak about this, but they did. The news about him spread everywhere. There were *miracles. For example, he fed 5000 people by a *miracle (John 6:5-14). Enormous crowds came because of this. Then the crowd wanted to make Jesus king by force. He had to escape from them. But although he was popular, they did not really obey him. They did not want to change the way that they lived. Jesus said:

John 6:26, 27 Jesus answered, 'I tell you the truth. The reason why you are looking for me is not the *miracles. You are looking for me because I gave you plenty of bread to eat.

Do not work for food that becomes bad. Work for the food that gives you eternal life. [Jesus did not mean the food that you eat, here. This word 'food' really meant Jesus himself. 'Eternal life' is the life that God gives to believers now, and which will continue in heaven.] The Son of Man [Jesus] will give you this food. God the Father has shown that he approves of him’.

After this, Jesus said some very difficult things. That made many people decide not to obey him (John 6:66).

What did Jesus' *miracles mean?

The crowds loved to see the *miracles. But *miracles were signs of who Jesus was. People who understood that would repent. [Repent means to be sorry for the wrong things that you have done. You decided to love God, and start to obey him.] They would trust Christ. In fact, in many places people saw the *miracles, but did not repent. Jesus spoke against these places. The words that he spoke about this were very severe. In this passage, Jesus spoke about these towns as if they were people. He blamed the people from these towns for their weak reaction to his message:

All that people wanted was the *miracles. But *miracles should make a person want to obey God.

Jesus' explanation of the people's reactions to him

What Jesus talked about in the parable of the farmer was now true. [A parable is a story with a meaning.] The parable of the farmer is in Matthew 13:1-9. The farmer sowed seed on different kinds of soil. Some seed fell among rocks, with not enough soil. It grew quickly, but had not enough roots. The sun came out and the plants died. Jesus explained that this referred to some people. They gladly listened to Jesus' message. But their joy did not last. When there was any kind of trouble, they did not trust him. Only some of the farmer’s seed had deep roots. So, only some of the people who followed Jesus, really trusted him.

Many people gave a welcome to Jesus when he entered Jerusalem. They praised him gladly. But perhaps some of these people joined another crowd later that week. And that crowd shouted: '*Crucify him'.

Many in the crowds did not think about what Jesus said about goodness and *judgement. They wanted *miracles. And they wanted to see Jesus cure people. They did not like what he said in passages like Matthew 16:24-28.

Jesus' problems with his *disciples The *disciples had their own ideas

The Bible record shows that the *disciples did not trust Jesus completely. Also, they quarrelled with each other. Several times Jesus tried to teach them about the *cross, but they would not listen (Mark 9:30-32). They had their own ideas about the future! They expected that a *kingdom would appear quickly on this earth. Partly for this reason, they quarrelled. They often argued about who was the most important *disciple (Mark 9:33-37; Matthew 20:20-28; Luke 22:24.) They even argued about this at the last supper [that is, at their last meal with Jesus]!

Matthew 11:20-24 Then Jesus began to accuse the people who lived in these cities. He had done most of his *miracles there, but the people did not *repent. 'This is not good for you, Chorazin! This is not good for you, Bethsaida! You have seen many *miracles. If such *miracles happened in the cities of Tyre and Sidon, their people would have *repented. They would have shown how sorry they were. But I tell you that a day of *judgement is coming. Then it will be better for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, what will happen to you? Will God be pleased with you? Will he bless you? No, not at all. If Sodom had seen *miracles like these, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be better for Sodom on the day of *judgement than for you.'

When the enemies of Jesus arrested him the *disciples ran away. Peter did follow at a distance. But when people asked him about Jesus, he swore. He denied that he ever knew Christ. At this time the *disciples had no idea about the kind of *kingdom that Jesus had come to bring.

Jesus tries very hard to teach his *disciples

Jesus had not completed what he wanted to teach the *disciples. He did not have much time left now. He tried very hard to teach them about some very important things. He taught them that he would come back again. [We call this future event: the Second Coming.] He taught them about the final *Judgement (Matthew 24, 25). He set up the *Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19-20). There is a long passage in the book of John (John 14-16) where Jesus talked about very important things. He talked about prayer. He said that he would give strength to his *disciples. He promised to send the *Holy Spirit. He said that people would oppose those who trusted him. He said that the most important rule is that we should love one another. He also taught them about his own relationship to God the Father. He taught all these things during his last few days.

Jesus’ enemies decide to kill him (Matthew 25:1-5)

At this time the Jewish rulers met the *High Priest (named Caiaphas), with some other men. They decided to kill Jesus. They had thought about this earlier (Matthew 12:14). Now they decided to do it. They had not been able to make Jesus give them wrong answers to their questions. They could not complain about him to the Romans. They could not arrest him because of the crowds. So they plotted together to arrest him when there were no crowds with him. Then they would kill him. They wanted to do this after Passover. [Passover was the time when the Jews remembered their escape from Egypt. They went to the *Temple together. Afterwards, they had a special family meal.] They did not want to kill Jesus during the *feast.

A secret plot

This group of men should have obeyed the law of the Jews. Instead, they were plotting to do something which was against the law. It is interesting that they met in the palace of the *High Priest. They did not meet in the *Temple. In the *High Priest’s palace they could meet in secret.

Mary pours oil on Jesus at Bethany

On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus stayed at Bethany. There he had made Lazarus alive again after Lazarus had died. There also he seems to have cured a man named Simon. Simon had a skin disease. Friends of Jesus asked him to have a meal with them, in honour of Jesus.

Expensive oil with a beautiful smell

Martha, who was the sister of Lazarus, was serving. Lazarus's other sister, Mary, broke a jar of very expensive oil. She poured it over Jesus. She did this to show her great love for Jesus. She was grateful to him, and she also believed in him. The oil was extremely expensive. Probably it cost all her money. Some people were very angry with her. Even some *disciples did not like what she had done. Judas said that they could have sold the oil for a lot of money. They could have given the money to the poor (John 12:4-6). We cannot trust Judas when he said that. Judas was a thief.

Mary prepared Jesus' body for the grave

Then Jesus spoke. He said that Mary had done a beautiful thing. She had prepared his body for the grave. Mary was one of the best listeners that Jesus ever had. On a previous visit by Jesus, she sat at his feet to listen to him (Luke 10:39). She probably heard Jesus speak about his death. She probably understood that it had to happen. But she believed that Jesus was still a king. She understood better than the *disciples at this time. She wanted to give Jesus a gift. She wanted to give him everything. Her gift shows how much she loved him.

Jesus also said this. Wherever people told the good news about him, all through the world, they would tell about Mary. They would say what she had done. So, Jesus knew that he would die soon. He knew what would happen. On the next day, he rode into Jerusalem. After that, he had discussions with the Jewish leaders. But the end was now close. Soon afterwards, Jesus' *crucifixion would happen.

Judas agrees to help the enemies arrest Jesus

Judas now went directly to the chief priests. He agreed to help them to arrest Jesus. The chief priests had decided to arrest Jesus after the Passover. However, when Judas went to them they changed their plan. They were very glad to see Judas.

Why did Judas help Jesus' enemies?

It is difficult to understand why Judas did this. Probably he also knew that Jesus was going to die. The *disciples had thought that Jesus would set up a new kingdom. Judas had wanted to have an important place in that kingdom. But also, Judas was a thief, and a very greedy man.

When did Judas decide to do this? Perhaps it was when Mary poured out the expensive oil on Jesus. Jesus was sure that he was going to die. Perhaps that was when Judas decided to do this.

The chief priests were pleased to see him. They agreed to pay him 30 pieces of silver. They gave him the money immediately. Judas now could not change his mind.

Jesus hid himself

John records an event which happened ab
ut this time (John 12:36-41). Jesus’ enemies were now going to arrest him. But Jesus had more to say to his *disciples. He hid himself from these enemies. Jesus would do no more in public. People might think that he had not been successful. He had come to the Jews, but most Jews did not want him.

Hundreds of years before, Isaiah had said that this would happen (Isaiah 53:1, Isaiah 6:10). It shows clearly that people are evil and selfish. But after Jesus died on the *cross, he would bring back men and women to himself (John 12:32).

The Last Supper [Jesus' final meal with his *disciples]

Jesus had one last task to do. He had to establish the *Lord's Supper.

The meaning of the Passover *feast

Jews ate a special meal at the Passover *feast. Every part of the *feast had a special meaning for them. At the Passover *feast, they remembered that they had been slaves in Egypt. God had freed them. In Egypt, God told them to kill a lamb for food. [A lamb is a young sheep.] They also had to mark their doorways with the blood of the lamb. Later God sent an *angel through Egypt. He killed all the children and animals who were the first to be born. He did not kill any who were in houses with blood on the doorways. The angel passed over those houses. After that, the Jews were free to leave Egypt.

What the Passover meant to Jesus

The Passover had a very important meaning for Jesus. The Jews had been slaves to the people in Egypt. But we are all like slaves, because of *sin. [We *sin when we do not obey God. We do not do what he wants.] The lambs died in Egypt so that the Jews would be free. And Jesus died to free us from the punishment for our *sin. That is why one of Jesus' names is the Lamb of God. For us, he is like the Passover lamb. He frees us from *sin. He brings us back to God.

Jesus wanted very much to eat this Passover meal with his *disciples. He told two *disciples to go and prepare this meal. He gave his instructions carefully. Judas would not know where the meal would be until much later in the day.

Judas was present at the meal. At the meal, Jesus announced that one *disciple would help his enemies. That *disciple would help them to find Jesus. Soon after this, Judas left.

The *Lord's Supper

After the meal Jesus took bread and gave it to the *disciples. He said, 'Take this bread. Eat it! This bread is like my body'. Also, he took the cup of wine, and gave it to them. He said, 'Drink it, all of you. This wine is like my blood. God is making a promise to you. I shall pour out my blood so that God can forgive the *sins of many people.' The *disciples would not understand the meaning of this until later.

Jesus washes the *disciples' feet

Jesus did another wonderful thing. He took water and a towel. He washed his *disciples’ feet. Peter protested about this. When Jesus had finished, he said this:

The *kingdom of God is a *kingdom of love and service. We love and serve each other. It is not a *kingdom where some people give orders to other people.

Peter would deny Jesus three times

At the meal, Jesus said that all the *disciples would leave him that very night. Peter protested that he was ready to die with Jesus. In reply, Jesus said this. Before the cock called out Peter would deny Jesus three times. [A cock is a bird that lives on a farm. It calls out very early in the morning.]

After the meal

After the meal, Jesus went out to the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives is a mountain where Jesus often went. There was a garden there, called the garden of Gethsemane.

Judas knew that Jesus would be there.

Jesus in the garden called Gethsemane Jesus prays while the *disciples sleep

We have seen that Jesus had many difficulties to deal with at this time. Both he and the *disciples were probably very tired by the time of the last supper [that is, Jesus' last meal with his *disciples]. We see this when we read about the behaviour of the *disciples in Gethsemane. They were actually very tired. They had no more energy at all. Jesus fell down on the ground and prayed. He was suffering very much. He really desired his friends to stay awake with him at this time. It was the hardest time for him. But the *disciples could not stay awake. They slept on the ground.

Jesus had done so much more than they had done. He was probably even more tired than them. But his hardest time of all was still to come.

Jesus suffers greatly

Jesus suffered very much in Gethsemane (Mark 14:50, Luke 22:54-62). Luke tells us that *drops of blood fell from Jesus' body. This was a crisis for Jesus. Jesus had always obeyed God his Father. And Jesus still wanted to obey God. But now this meant the *cross with its great pain and shame.

John 13:12-17 'Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me 'Teacher' and '*Lord'. This is right. I am your Teacher and your *Lord. Now I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another's feet. I have shown you what to do. You should do what I have done for you. I tell you the truth; no servant is greater than his master. A man who brings a message is not greater than the sender of that message. Now you know these things. God will bless you if you do them.'

But, for Jesus, the *cross was not merely a place of pain and death. Jesus was perfect; he never *sinned. But on the *cross, Jesus would have to take, on himself, the *sin of the world. He would have wanted to avoid this especially, but he could not. Here is his prayer:

But there was no other way. The *cross was the only way that God could forgive our *sin. Jesus was the only one who could pay for all our *sin. Only Jesus could give us the power to live like him.

Judas kisses Jesus

After he had prayed, Jesus knew what must happen. Calmly Jesus walked out so that the soldiers could arrest him. Judas had arrived, with soldiers and priests. Judas went to Jesus and kissed him. Jesus refused to let his friends fight for him. Instead, he allowed his enemies to take him.

The *disciples were very afraid. They left Jesus and ran away. Only Peter and John tried to stay near Jesus. And only John would be present at the *crucifixion.

Tests for Jesus at night The High Priest's court did not obey the Jewish law

The men took Jesus to Annas. Annas had been the *High Priest. The men asked Jesus questions there. This lasted through the night. There were no witnesses. The men were cruel, and they struck Jesus. None of this was legal, but there was more behaviour like this to come.

Jesus and Caiaphas

Then the men took Jesus to Caiaphas. Caiaphas became the *High Priest that year. Some Jewish leaders quickly went there (Mark 14:53-60). It was still night. They could not accuse Jesus about anything at all. They looked for false witnesses who would tell lies about him. Even then, the false witnesses did not agree with each other (Mark 14:59).

The *High Priest was desperate. He should have obeyed the law completely. But now he himself asked Jesus questions. This was not legal. But Caiaphas' questions achieved what the men wanted. Jesus replied to Caiaphas clearly. Jesus said that he was the Son of God. This was true. Jesus really is the Son of God. But the Jewish leaders did not believe Jesus. They supposed that he was just an ordinary man. So, they decided that his words were very wicked. For the rest of the night, they hit and struck Jesus (Mark 14:65).

Peter denies Jesus

While this was going on, Peter had been able to get near the court. He was outside, in the yard. He watched what was happening. First, a servant girl came. She said to him, 'You also were with Jesus.’ Peter denied it. Then Peter went out to the gate. Another girl saw him, and said, 'This man was with Jesus.’ Peter swore and denied it. Then the people who were near him spoke. They recognised his accent. So, they knew that he was from Galilee. Peter denied it, and even cursed himself. At that moment, Jesus looked straight at Peter. Peter went out and wept bitterly. He had promised to be loyal to Jesus always. Now Peter had denied that he knew Jesus. After Jesus came alive again, he would meet with Peter. And Jesus would forgive Peter.

The meeting of the Jewish leaders

When the next day began, the Jewish leaders met together. They approved of the events during the night, although those events had not been legal. The Jews could have killed Jesus themselves. They could have thrown stones at him, as they did to Stephen later. But the Jews wanted to *crucify Jesus. Their law did not allow them to do this. Probably they wanted the Romans to be partly responsible for the death of Jesus.

Matthew 26:39 'My Father, if it is possible, do not let this happen. However, I want to do the things that you desire. I choose not to do the things that I desire.'

The death of Judas

At some time early on that day, Judas regretted what he had done. He did not *repent. Instead he killed himself.

But now, the Jewish rulers had Jesus as their prisoner.

Laws that the *High Priest's court did not obey

The Jewish leaders were proud that they obeyed the law. But they did not obey their own law when they arrested Jesus. It seems that they broke all these laws:

You must not decide about a prisoner’s punishment if he is not present – Matthew 26:3,4. If you make men tell lies as witnesses, you should die – Matthew 26:59-62. You must not kill a prisoner on the first day when he is in court. Annas asked Jesus questions without any witnesses. This was not legal – John 18:19-24. The court should not have happened at night. This was not legal – Matthew 27:1.

To go to the *High Priest was not legal – Matthew 26:63. Everything that the Jewish leaders did was wrong.

The Jews probably had power to kill Jesus, as they did Stephen (Acts 7). But they wanted the Romans to share the blame. They also probably wanted Jesus to die by *crucifixion. They did not have the power to order this. Only the Romans could order *crucifixion.

Jesus in Pilate's court The Jewish rulers accuse Jesus

The Jewish rulers had a problem. They could only accuse Jesus of one thing. The Jewish rulers said that Jesus had spoken against God. But the Romans did not serve the same God as the Jews. The Romans had their own gods. So, the Romans would not think that this was important. The Romans would not even care if Jesus had spoken against God.

Therefore, when the Jewish rulers came to Pilate, they accused Jesus of other things. (Pilate governed the Jews for the Romans.) (Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:1-5). When they said these things, Jesus did not answer (Mark 15:5, Matthew 27:14). What the *prophets had said was now true. 'They accused him and they attacked him. But he did not say a word.' (Isaiah 53:7).

Herod's court

When Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he tried to send Jesus to King Herod. Until that day, Pilate had been Herod's enemy (Luke 23:6-12). Again, Jesus did not answer Herod's questions (Luke 23:9). Herod and his soldiers laughed at Jesus and hit him. Then Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate.

Pilate's court

Again, Jesus was in a Roman court. Pilate now showed what he thought about Jesus. He thought that Jesus was a good man. He knew that the Jewish rulers were jealous of Jesus. He tried to free Jesus.

The Jews had a custom at that *feast. They freed one prisoner. Pilate thought that they might free Jesus. But the Jews had encouraged the crowd to ask for Barabbas. Barabbas was a murderer. But the crowd still asked for Barabbas instead of Jesus.

Jesus now could not avoid the *cross.

Pilate washes his hands

Pilate washed his hands in public to show that the death of Jesus was not his fault. But Pilate also deserved blame for Jesus' death.

The soldiers beat Jesus on the way to the *cross

The Romans always beat their prisoners in a very cruel way. The law of the Jews allowed them to beat men no more than 39 times. The Roman law had no limit. When their prisoners fell down, the Romans picked them up. Then they began to beat them again. Sometimes they killed their prisoners like this. The prisoners' backs became like a field that a farmer has ploughed. Pieces of skin hung from their backs. The Romans had decided that Jesus must die. Now they beat him, by Roman law.

The soldiers also made cruel jokes about Jesus. They made him a crown out of pieces of sharp branches. (It is unlikely that Jesus wore this to the *cross. The Roman officer would never have allowed it.)

What did Jesus look like?

What must Jesus have looked like by this time? They had beaten him with hands and whips. They had pulled his beard. They had forced the sharp crown on his head. People have painted pictures of Jesus on the *cross. None of them can show us what Jesus was really like by that time. Isaiah’s description is better:

Simon of Cyrene carries Christ's *cross

Usually the prisoner had to carry his own *cross. [The *cross was two heavy pieces of wood that the soldiers tied together.] Soon the soldiers saw that Jesus was too weak to carry his own *cross. Simon of Cyrene carried it for him. Jesus had enough strength to speak to some women. As the soldiers fastened him to the *cross with nails he prayed to God. He said, 'Father, forgive them.' Later, he spoke some words from the *cross.

To *crucify a man is terrible. The prisoner had painful injuries. The sun burned him and insects crawled over him. Most of all, the weight of the body was so heavy that the man had to struggle for every breath. All the time there were the shouts of the crowd. 1000 years before Jesus died on the *cross, David wrote Psalm 22. Yet Psalm 22 describes Jesus' experiences very well.

What *prophets wrote comes true

Many of the things which *prophets had said now happened. *Prophets had said what would happen when Jesus rode into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9, 10; Psalm 118:26, 27). They said that a friend would give him to his enemies (Matthew 26:14-17, Matthew 26:24; Psalm 41:9). Other *prophets had spoken about the *crucifixion and the *resurrection. *Prophets spoke many words about Jesus’ life, death and *resurrection. They spoke and wrote these things hundreds of years before the events. (For more details of these, see the books by Josh McDowell.)

The *prophets' words about the *Messiah

The Old Testament [the first part of the Bible] includes the books of several *prophets. These *prophets lived centuries before Jesus. But the *prophets described many events in the life of Jesus.

Isaiah 52:14 Everyone was afraid of h
w he looked. He did not even lo