If we look at the accounts of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus in John compared the those accounts in the Synoptics, we find one or two differences, which, might be highly significant.
Read John 18:1-24
What are the major difference that we notice in these verses compared to Matthew, Mark and Luke?
- There is no ‘agony in the garden of Gethsemane’ in John’s Gospel. Jesus is in complete control of all that is going on and even when they came to arrest Him, He could still have walked away at that time. (cf 10:17-18 ‘I lay down my life…no-one takes it from me…I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again…’)
- In John’s account, armed Roman troops appear to have accompanied the Jews who came to arrest Jesus. Does this suggest that they were expecting some kind of resistance? Or was it a means of beginning to ensure that the Romans were on their side?
- Although Jesus is taken to be questioned by Annas and then to Caiaphas the high priest, there is no Jewish trial in John’s account. Why might that be? Could it have something to do with the Passover?
Read John 18:33 – 19:16
What do we make of Pilate in these verses?
- He plainly didn’t like the Jewish leaders.
- He clearly finds no crime to answer to and tries to offer some kind of compromise to make his life easy by first of all having him flogged
- When that wasn’t going to happen, he did become fearful of an uprising.
- He thinks he has power over Jesus and looks on him disdainfully.
- In giving in to the Pharisees as he did, he ultimately betrays his own cowardice and weakness.
Finally, what do we make of the timing of events as recorded in John’s Gospel compared to the Synoptics? (cf. John 19:13)
- The sixth hour on the Day of Preparation would be the time when the authorities in the Temple were preparing the Passover Lambs.
- Remember at the beginning of the Gospel, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world…’ (John 1:29).
What else is significant about this timing in John’s Gospel? (cf Mark 14:12 with John 19:13)
- This would appear to be a day later than the timing of events in the Synoptics.
- All four Gospels record that Jesus died on a Friday, before the Sabbath, and that it was on the Sunday morning after the Sabbath that the women first came to the tomb.
- Which of these accounts then do we believe to be the most accurate – why would the Synoptic writers differ from John and what is the real significance of this?
John’s Gospel is completely different from the Synoptics and many believe it is the most accurate record of the ministry of Christ. However, that is not to say that the writer of this account did not have his own agenda to proclaim. The question is, what do we make of it?