Lesson 78: John 18–19

“Lesson 78: John 18–19,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2016)

“Lesson 78,” New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 78

John 18–19


After Jewish leaders arrested and questioned Jesus, they delivered Him to Pilate to be tried and condemned. Pilate consented to Jesus’s Crucifixion, even though he became convinced of Jesus’s innocence. While on the cross, the Savior placed His mother in the Apostle John’s care. After Jesus was crucified, His body was placed in a tomb.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 18:1–32

Jesus is arrested and questioned by Jewish leaders, who then bring Him before Pilate

Write the following question on the board:

When is it most difficult to care about the well-being of others?

Invite several students to explain how they would answer the question on the board.

Explain that Jesus Christ and the Roman governor Pilate chose to prioritize, or value, different things during the events described in John 18–19. Write Jesus Christ’s concerns and Pilate’s concerns on opposite sides of the board. Invite students to look for a truth as they study John 18–19 that can help them know what concerns should take priority in their lives.

Summarize John 18:1–3 by explaining that after Jesus suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas Iscariot arrived with officers from the chief priests and Pharisees to arrest Jesus.

  • If you knew that a band of armed officers was approaching to arrest you and ultimately put you to death, what might your reaction be?

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from John 18:4–11 and Luke 22:50–51. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Jesus responded when this group arrived.

  • What did Jesus say to those who came to arrest Him? (You may want to explain that the words these in John 18:8 and them in John 18:9 refer to the Apostles who were with Jesus.)

  • According to these verses, what was Jesus Christ concerned about? (As students respond, list the following phrases on the board under “Jesus Christ’s concerns”: protecting His Apostles; healing the servant’s ear; doing Heavenly Father’s will.)

Ask a student to read aloud the following summary of John 18:12–32:

Jesus allowed the officers to arrest Him. They took Him to Annas, one of the Jewish leaders, and then to Caiaphas, the high priest who sought to condemn Jesus to death. Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. When three different people asked Peter whether he was one of Jesus’s disciples, Peter denied knowing Him each time. After Caiaphas questioned Jesus, the Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman provincial governor of Judea, to be tried and sentenced. Only the Romans had the authority to carry out a death sentence in Jerusalem.

Explain that this trial may have taken place in the Antonia Fortress near the temple. (You might consider inviting students to turn to Bible Map 12, “Jerusalem at the Time of Jesus,” in the Bible appendix and look for the Antonia Fortress [feature 3 on the map].)

John 18:33–19:16

Jesus Christ is tried before Pilate

Invite two students to read aloud the words of the Savior and Pilate, respectively, recorded in John 18:33–37. (You might invite these students before class begins to locate the lines they will read.) Consider performing the role of the narrator, or invite another student to be the narrator. As these students read their parts, ask the class to follow along, looking for what Pilate wanted to know about Jesus.

  • According to John 18:33, what did Pilate want to know about Jesus?

Explain that the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of claiming to be the king of the Jews because if Jesus claimed to be a king, He could be charged with sedition, or treason, against the Roman government (see John 19:12), a crime that was punishable by death.

  • What did Jesus explain to Pilate? (His kingdom was “not of this world” [John 18:36], and He had come to earth to “bear witness unto the truth” [John 18:37].)

Ask students to read John 18:38–40 silently, looking for what Pilate concluded about Jesus.

  • What did Pilate conclude about Jesus? (He said he could “find in him no fault at all” [verse 38].)

  • According to verse 39, what did Pilate do to try to have Jesus released?

Summarize John 19:1–5 by explaining that Roman soldiers scourged and mocked Jesus. Pilate then presented Jesus before the people.

Invite students to read John 19:4, 6 silently, looking for what Pilate repeated to the Jews (“I find no fault in him”).

  • Based on Pilate’s insistence that he had found no fault in Jesus, what did Pilate likely believe was the right thing to do?

Invite a student to read John 19:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Jewish leaders told Pilate about Jesus.

Invite the students who read the words of Pilate, Jesus, and the narrator to resume their roles and read aloud from John 19:8–11. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Pilate’s response when he heard that Jesus had said He was the Son of God.

  • How did Pilate respond after the Jewish leaders told him that Jesus had said He was the Son of God?

  • If you had been in Pilate’s position, how might you have felt after hearing what Jesus said about your power as governor? Why?

Explain that Jesus’s statement recorded in verse 11 about the Jewish leaders having the “greater sin” indicated that if Pilate yielded to the multitude’s request and ordered Jesus to be crucified, Pilate would be guilty of sin, but not to the same degree as those who actively sought Jesus’s death.

Invite students to read Matthew 27:19 silently, looking for what Pilate’s wife counseled him to do. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite a student to read John 19:12–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Pilate sought to do regarding Jesus and how the Jews responded.

  • According to verse 12, what did Pilate seek to do?

  • What did the Jewish leaders say to Pilate when they learned he wanted to release Jesus?

Remind students that Caesar was the Roman emperor who had granted Pilate his position as Judea’s governor. On several previous occasions, Pilate had ordered Roman soldiers to slaughter Jews, and he had defiled some of their sacred religious traditions. Pilate’s actions had been reported to Caesar, and Caesar had rebuked Pilate (see chap. 34, note 7, in James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 648–49).

  • What might have happened to Pilate if the Jews had reported that he was not a “friend” to Caesar (verse 12)? (If Caesar had suspected Pilate of being disloyal to him, Caesar might have stripped Pilate of his position and power as governor.)

Point out that Pilate had to choose between protecting his own interests and releasing the Savior, whom he knew was innocent.

Invite a student to read John 19:16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Pilate chose to do.

  • What did Pilate choose to do?

  • What does this choice indicate about what Pilate was most likely concerned with? (As students respond, write the following phrases on the board under “Pilate’s concerns”: himself; his position and power.)

  • What principle can we learn from Pilate’s decision to place his own interests ahead of releasing the Savior, whom he knew was innocent? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: Placing our own interests ahead of doing what is right will lead us to sin.)

  • What are some situations in which we might be tempted to place our own interests ahead of doing what is right?

  • What can we do to overcome the temptation to place our own interests ahead of doing what is right?

Invite students to look for what they can learn about the character of Christ compared to the character of Pilate as they study the final moments of Jesus Christ’s mortal life.

John 19:17–42

Jesus is crucified, and His body is placed in a tomb

Summarize John 19:17–24 by explaining that Jesus carried His cross to Golgotha, where He was crucified.

Invite a student to read John 19:25–27 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for who was present when Jesus was crucified.

  • Who was standing near the cross when Jesus was crucified? (After students respond, explain that the phrase “the disciple … whom [Jesus] loved” [verse 26] refers to the Apostle John, also known as John the Beloved.)

  • According to verses 26–27, whom was Jesus concerned for as He hung upon the cross? What did He instruct John to do? (Take care of His mother as if she were John’s own mother. On the board under “Jesus Christ’s concerns,” write His mother’s well-being.)

If possible, provide students with copies of the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask a student to read the statement aloud.

Bednar, David A.

“Character is revealed … in the power to discern the suffering of other people when we ourselves are suffering; in the ability to detect the hunger of others when we are hungry; and in the power to reach out and extend compassion for the spiritual agony of others when we are in the midst of our own spiritual distress. Thus, character is demonstrated by looking and reaching outward when the natural and instinctive response is to be self-absorbed and turn inward. If such a capacity is indeed the ultimate criterion of moral character, then the Savior of the world is the perfect example of such a consistent and charitable character” (“The Character of Christ” [Brigham Young University–Idaho Religion Symposium, Jan. 25, 2003], 2–3).

  • Based on what we have learned from John 18–19 about the Savior’s character, what can we do to follow His example? (After students respond, write the following truth on the board: We can follow the Savior’s example by choosing to help others even when we are in need ourselves.)

  • How can we overcome the desire to be concerned primarily with ourselves and choose to help others even when we may be in need ourselves?

  • When have you seen someone follow the Savior’s example by choosing to help others even when he or she was in need?

You may want to share your testimony of Jesus Christ and the perfect example He set of putting others’ needs before His own. Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they will do to follow the Savior’s example.

Summarize John 19:28–42 by explaining that after Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’s body. Joseph and Nicodemus then prepared the Savior’s body and placed it in a tomb, which Joseph had donated.

Commentary and Background Information

John 18:5–8. “I am he”

“These words [‘I am he’] are translated from the Greek phrase egō eimi, used in many other places in John in reference to the divinity of Jesus Christ. … After the Savior said these words, the men and officers ‘went backward, and fell to the ground’ (John 18:6), ‘apparently unable to exercise power over Jesus unless permitted to do so’ (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:780). ‘The simple dignity and gentle yet compelling force of Christ’s presence proved more potent than strong arms and weapons of violence’ (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 615). This detail shows that the Savior had the ability to overpower his captors but voluntarily submitted to arrest and crucifixion” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 256).

John 19:12, 16. Why did Pilate make a decision he knew was wrong?

Elder James E. Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided this helpful insight into why Pilate made a decision that he knew was wrong:

“Wherein lay the cause of Pilate’s weakness? He was the emperor’s representative, the imperial procurator with power to crucify or to save; officially he was an autocrat. His conviction of Christ’s blamelessness and his desire to save Him from the cross are beyond question. Why did Pilate waver, hesitate, vacillate, and at length yield contrary to his conscience and his will? Because, after all, he was more slave than freeman. He was in servitude to his past. He knew that should complaint be made of him at Rome, his corruption and cruelties, his extortions and the unjustifiable slaughter he had caused would all be brought against him. He was the Roman ruler, but the people over whom he exercised official dominion delighted in seeing him cringe, when they cracked, with vicious snap above his head, the whip of a threatened report about him to his imperial master, Tiberius” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. [1916], 641).

Elder Talmage further observed that “Pilate knew what was right but lacked the moral courage to do it” (chap. 34, note 7 in Jesus the Christ, 648).

John 19:31–36. “The Jews … besought Pilate that their legs might be broken”

Victims of crucifixion sometimes lived in torment for several days before dying. After crucified persons had died, Romans customarily left the bodies on crosses to deter other would-be criminals. The law of Moses, however, prohibited leaving the bodies of criminals to hang on a tree overnight (see Deuteronomy 21:22–23). Also, in the case of Jesus’s crucifixion, the next day was the Sabbath. Therefore the Jewish leaders, wanting to have the bodies removed from the crosses before the Sabbath began at sundown, sought to hasten the deaths of the three men on the crosses by asking that their legs be broken. This would cause the victims to suffer cramping in the chest and restricted breathing because they could no longer use their legs to support their weight. After breaking the legs of the other two crucified men, the Roman soldiers found Jesus already dead and so had no need to break His legs.

This important moment on the cross fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy: “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken” (Psalm 34:20). Additionally, the Lord had instructed Israel that Passover lambs, which foreshadowed Jesus’s sacrifice as the Lamb of God, were not to have their bones broken (see Exodus 12:46).