Lectio notes on John 18:19-40

In this section of St John's Gospel, the scene has now moved to the interrogation of Jesus by the priests.

The text

The Greek, Latin and Knox translation can be found on the New Advent page.  You can listen to it read in Latin and/or the Greek.  Here is the Latin:

19 Pontifex ergo interrogavit Jesum de discipulis suis, et de doctrina ejus. 20 Respondit ei Jesus: Ego palam locutus sum mundo: ego semper docui in synagoga, et in templo, quo omnes Judæi conveniunt, et in occulto locutus sum nihil. 21 Quid me interrogas? interroga eos qui audierunt quid locutus sim ipsis: ecce hi sciunt quæ dixerim ego. 22 Hæc autem cum dixisset, unus assistens ministrorum dedit alapam Jesu, dicens: Sic respondes pontifici? 23 Respondit ei Jesus: Si male locutus sum, testimonium perhibe de malo: si autem bene, quid me cædis? 24 Et misit eum Annas ligatum ad Caipham pontificem.25 Erat autem Simon Petrus stans, et calefaciens se. Dixerunt ergo ei: Numquid et tu ex discipulis ejus es? Negavit ille, et dixit: Non sum. 26 Dicit ei unus ex servis pontificis, cognatus ejus, cujus abscidit Petrus auriculam: Nonne ego te vidi in horto cum illo? 27 Iterum ergo negavit Petrus: et statim gallus cantavit.28 Adducunt ergo Jesum a Caipha in prætorium. Erat autem mane: et ipsi non introierunt in prætorium, ut non contaminarentur, sed ut manducarent Pascha. 29 Exivit ergo Pilatus ad eos foras, et dixit: Quam accusationem affertis adversus hominem hunc? 30 Responderunt, et dixerunt ei: Si non esset hic malefactor, non tibi tradidissemus eum. 31 Dixit ergo eis Pilatus: Accipite eum vos, et secundum legem vestram judicate eum. Dixerunt ergo ei Judæi: Nobis non licet interficere quemquam. 32 Ut sermo Jesu impleretur, quem dixit, significans qua morte esset moriturus. 33 Introivit ergo iterum in prætorium Pilatus: et vocavit Jesum, et dixit ei: Tu es rex Judæorum? 34 Respondit Jesus: A temetipso hoc dicis, an alii dixerunt tibi de me? 35 Respondit Pilatus: Numquid ego Judæus sum? gens tua et pontifices tradiderunt te mihi: quid fecisti? 36 Respondit Jesus: Regnum meum non est de hoc mundo. Si ex hoc mundo esset regnum meum, ministri mei utique decertarent ut non traderer Judæis: nunc autem regnum meum non est hinc. 37 Dixit itaque ei Pilatus: Ergo rex es tu? Respondit Jesus: Tu dicis quia rex sum ego. Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati: omnis qui est ex veritate, audit vocem meam. 38 Dicit ei Pilatus: Quid est veritas? Et cum hoc dixisset, iterum exivit ad Judæos, et dicit eis: Ego nullam invenio in eo causam. 39 Est autem consuetudo vobis ut unum dimittam vobis in Pascha: vultis ergo dimittam vobis regem Judæorum? 40 Clamaverunt ergo rursum omnes, dicentes: Non hunc, sed Barabbam. Erat autem Barabbas latro.


 [19] The high priest therefore asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. [20] Jesus answered him: I have spoken openly to the world: I have always taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither all the Jews resort; and in secret I have spoken nothing.[21] Why asketh thou me? ask them who have heard what I have spoken unto them: behold they know what things I have said. [22] And when he had said these things, one of the servants standing by, gave Jesus a blow, saying: Answerest thou the high priest so? [23] Jesus answered him: If I have spoken evil, give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou me? [24] And Annas sent him bound to Caiphas the high priest. [25] And Simon Peter was standing, and warming himself. They said therefore to him: Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said: I am not. [26] One of the servants of the high priest (a kinsman to him whose ear Peter cut off) saith to him: Did I not see thee in the garden with him? [27] Again therefore Peter denied; and immediately the cock crew. [28] Then they led Jesus from Caiphas to the governor' s hall. And it was morning; and they went not into the hall, that they might not be defiled, but that they might eat the pasch. [29] Pilate therefore went out to them, and said: What accusation bring you against this man? [30] They answered, and said to him: If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee.[31] Pilate therefore said to them: Take him you, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said to him: It is not lawful for us to put any man to death; [32] That the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he said, signifying what death he should die. [33] Pilate therefore went into the hall again, and called Jesus, and said to him: Art thou the king of the Jews? [34] Jesus answered: Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or have others told it thee of me? [35] Pilate answered: Am I a Jew? Thy own nation, and the chief priests, have delivered thee up to me: what hast thou done?[36] Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would certainly strive that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now my kingdom is not from hence. [37] Pilate therefore said to him: Art thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a king. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice. [38] Pilate saith to him: What is truth? And when he said this, he went out again to the Jews, and saith to them: I find no cause in him. [39] But you have a custom that I should release one unto you at the pasch: will you, therefore, that I release unto you the king of the Jews? [40] Then cried they all again, saying: Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.


The Catena Aurea points out that the priests were not actually interested in seeking truth, but rather trumping up a charge against Jesus:

CHRYS. As they could bring no charge against Christ, they asked Him of His disciples: The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples; perhaps where they were, and on what account He had collected them, he wished to prove that he was a seditious and factious person whom no one attended to, except His own disciples.

THEOPHYL. He asks Him moreover of His doctrine, what it was, whether opposed to Moses and the law, that he might take occasion thereby to put Him to death as an enemy of God.

ALCUIN. He does not ask in order to know the truth, but to find out some charge against Him, on which to deliver Him to the Roman Governor to be condemned. But our Lord so tempers His answer, as neither to conceal the truth, nor yet to appear to defend Himself: Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.

THEOPHYL. When Jesus had appealed to the testimony of the people by, an officer, wishing to clear himself, and show that he was not one of those who admired our Lord, struck Him: And when He had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answer you the high priest so?

Peter again denies Jesus.  We need to ponder the spiritual interpretation of these acts:

CHRYS. The Evangelists have all given the same account of the denials of Peter, not with any intention of throwing blame upon him, but to teach us how hurtful it is to trust in self, and not ascribe all to God.

BEDE. Mystically, by the first denial of Peter are denoted those who before our Lord's Passion denied that He was God, by the second, those who did so after His resurrection. So by the first crowing of the cock His resurrection is signified; by the second, the general resurrection at the end of the world. By the first damsel, who obliged Peter to deny, is denoted lust, by the second, carnal delight: by one or more servants, the devils who persuade men to deny Christ.

 Jesus' interrogation by Pilate draws out two final important lessons for us, first on the nature of the kingdom:

AUG. This is what the good Master wished to teach us. But first it was necessary to show the falsity of the notions of both Jews and Gentiles as to His kingdom, which Pilate had heard of; as if it meant that He aimed at unlawful power; a crime punishable with death, and this kingdom were a subject of jealousy to the ruling power, and to be guarded against as likely to be hostile either to the Romans or Jews. Now if our Lord had answered immediately Pilate's question, He would have seemed to have been answering not the Jews, but the Gentiles only. But after Pilate's answer, what He says is an answer to both Gentiles and Jews: as if He said, Men, i.e. Jews and Gentiles, I hinder not your dominion in this world. What more would you have? Come by faith to the kingdom which is not of this world. For what is His kingdom, but they that believe in Him, of whom He says, you are not of the world: although He wished that they should be in the world. In the same way, here He does not say, My kingdom is not in this world; but, is not of this world. Of the world are all men, who created by God are born of the corrupt race of Adam. All that are born again in Christ, are made a kingdom not of this world. Thus hath God taken us out of the power of darkness, and translated us to the kingdom of His dear Son.

CHRYS. Or He means that He does not derive His kingdom from the same source that earthly kings do; but that He has his sovereignty from above; inasmuch as He is not mere man, but far greater and more glorious than man: If My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews. Here He shows the weakness of an earthly kingdom, has its strength from its servants, whereas that higher kingdom is sufficient to itself, and wanting in nothing. And if His kingdom was thus the greater of the two, it follows that He was taken of His own will, and delivered up Himself.

And secondly on the nature of truth as an absolute:

AUG But when Christ bears witness to the truth, He bears witness to Himself; as He said above, I am the truth. But inasmuch as all men have not faith, He adds, Everyone that is of the truth hears My voice: hears, that is, with the inward ear; obeys My voice, believes Me. Every one that is of the truth, has reference to the grace by which He calls according to His purpose. For as regards the nature in which we are created, since the truth created all, all are of the truth. But it is not all to whom it is given the truth to obey the truth. For had He even said, Everyone one that hears My voice is of the truth, it still would be thought that such were of the truth, because they obeyed the truth But He does not say this, but Everyone that is of the truth hears My voice. A man then is not of the truth, because he hears His voice, but hears His voice because he is of the truth. This grace is conferred upon him by the truth.

CHRYS. These words have an effect upon Pilate, persuade him to become a hearer, and elicit from him the short inquiry, What is truth had almost said to Him, What is truth?

THEOPHYL. For it had almost vanished from the world, and become unknown in consequence of the general unbelief.

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