Jesus finishes his long night of agony, praying for himself to accomplish the Father’s will, he prays for his disciples and their coming trials and for all of us, believers in the generations to come. He walks back to his disciples and towards his captors who are approaching. Judas comes with a large group of temple guards, chief priests and Pharisees all carrying lanterns, torches and weapons. Jesus meets them and asks “who is it you want?” the armed crowd responds Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus answers, “I am he”. John wants us to understand completely that Jesus was not taken by surprise; he went forward and identified himself to the crowd. John also provides the account that when Jesus spoke those words, “I am He” the entire crowd fell to the ground so that Jesus needs to ask again “Who are you looking for?” When Jesus responds a second time that He is the one they have come to arrest, he asks that they allow his disciples to go free. The willingness of Jesus to do the Father’s will by submitting to the coming injustice is highlighted by the power that knocks them all to the ground and that Jesus could have walked away. Jesus’ love and protection of his disciples is evident as well, he looks to their safety while he willingly presents himself for suffering.
Peter at this point, awaken from his stunned silence, pulls out his sword and attempts to defend Jesus. All three of the synoptic gospels record the incident with the sword, this weak attempt to defend Jesus, Jesus’ rebuke and healing of the high priests servant; it is John who gives us the names of the participants, Peter and Malchus. The long night in the garden concludes with a demonstration of power and grace; the healing of the servant’s ear and the protection of the disciples, especially Peter.
John records that two of the disciples followed the crowd as they brought Jesus to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas the High Priest. Also, it is from John’s gospel that we get the details of two inquisitions, first at Annas’ house then later at Caiaphas’ house. Both Annas and Caiaphas violate multiple laws in questioning Jesus; that the examination happen at night, in secret, that Jesus was beaten, that there were no specific charges against Jesus and no witnesses that could agree.
It is during this long night of questions and abuse that Peter and John (another disciple) are hanging out in the courtyard of the high priest’s house watching and waiting. John gives us the detail that the “other disciple” was acquainted with the high priest so he was able to gain entrance to the courtyard. Peter is asked three times if he is one of Jesus’ disciples, at the door as he enters, while he is sitting warm by the fire and by one of the relatives of the servant he attacked. All three time Peter denies knowing Jesus and being one of his disciples. As soon as Peter says this the third time, he hears a rooster crow. Luke records that the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter, Peter remembered what Jesus had said and he went outside and wept bitterly.
Finally the High Priest sends Jesus to the palace of the Roman governor, Pilate. The Sanhedrin convicts Jesus of blasphemy but sends him to Pilate to be convicted and crucified as a rebel. It is early Friday morning; the Sabbath will begin at sunset. Pilate questions Jesus; because of the Jews accusations the questions are about whether Jesus is a king or not. Pilate declares that he finds no basis of the charges they brought against Jesus. But the Jewish leaders want more than Jesus’ death, they want him humiliated, beaten, cursed and rejected as the Messiah. They needed Rome to accomplish that for them quickly.
Pilate offers them a compromise; he was prepared to release a convicted prisoner that day as a boon for the Passover. Who did they want for him to release, this innocent man or Barabbas and convicted murderer and insurrectionist? Mark records that the chief priests stirred up the crowd to a near riot, shouting for Barabbas instead of Jesus. They shouted at Pilate, “No not him! Give us Barabbas!”