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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 4 - Light Overcomes Darkness
A - Events From the Arrest to the Burial (John 18:1 - 19:42)

2. Jesus questioned before Annas and Peter's threefold denial (John 18:12-27)

JOHN 18:12-14
12 So the detachment, the commanding officer, and the officers of the Jews, seized Jesus and bound him, 13 and led him to Annas first, for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should perish for the people.

It was not only the Jews who arrested Jesus, but the Roman officer who arrived with soldiers for the same purpose. Christ, who is Lord over death and demons, who calmed the storm, healed the sick, and forgave sins, endured the bonds meekly. The One who was free became a captive. The Lord became shackled and fettered. We caused that because of our ugly sins. His bonds represent one further step downwards towards his humiliation to the lowest degree on the cross.

Annas was the high priest from 6 BC to 15 BC. In theory, he was in office for life, but Rome removed him from his seat. Eventually, they picked Caiaphas, the Fox, his son-in-law, a devious lawyer. He was able to meet the demands of the Law as well as the requirements of Rome. He was notoriously sly and deceitful, the prophet of Satan who produced a fraudulent prophecy about Jesus’ death to ensure the nations’ survival. The trial that ensued was a tragedy, dramatized to condemn the accused, with a trumped up charge, to give an appearance of justice. Those who were disturbed in their consciences were given the impression that the trial was fair and based on clear evidence.

John does not record the events surrounding the two sittings of the Trial, as recounted in the other gospels, but he gives prominence to the investigation and questioning that preceded the Trials before Annas, chief of the priestly clan. He was still the prime mover of the developments in the land. Caiaphas ordered that the preliminary questioning be transferred to Annas as a mark of respect.

JOHN 18:15-18
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and entered in with Jesus into the court of the high priest; 16 but Peter was standing at the door outside. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought in Peter. 17 Then the maid who kept the door said to Peter, “Are you also one of this man’s disciples?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and the officers were standing there, having made a fire of coals, for it was cold. They were warming themselves. Peter was with them, standing and warming himself.

John and Peter followed Jesus by night at a distance. Since John was related to the High Priest, he was able to enter into the court of the priests freely. Peter was unable to do so because the door was guarded by servants.

John felt the turmoil in Peter’s heart, standing in the darkness by the door. Wanting to help him, John spoke for him with the maid keeping the door. She was not wholly convinced and queried Peter, "Are you not also one of that person’s disciple?" He replied, "Not I", and he behaved as if he knew nothing and had no part in the matter, after which he tried to warm himself by the fire, as it was cold.

JOHN 18:19-24
19 The high priest therefore asked Jesus about his disciples, and about his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues, and in the temple, where the Jews always meet. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them. Behold, these know the things which I said.” 22 When he had said this, one of the officers standing by slapped Jesus with his hand, saying, “Do you answer the high priest like that?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken evil, testify of the evil; but if well, why do you beat me?” 24 Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas, the high priest.

The preliminary investigation was not about Jesus’ guilt, his personality and the claims he made. It was about his disciples and the method of his teaching. At that time, there were many secret societies. The investigators wanted to find out speedily whether there was a danger of unrest on the part of his followers so that they might quell any revolt.

Jesus denied the existence of any such society but rather that they knew he taught openly during the day in synagogues and in the temple itself where many came to hear. If the leaders had honestly wished to know him, they could have gone to his places of teaching and heard the details of his sayings and his call. In this way Jesus responded to the old high priest without fear. All of a sudden, one of the servants anxious to curry favor with the high priest, struck Jesus. Jesus did not hit back or show anger. At the same time he did not minimize the gravity of the crime, but challenged the servant to state the reason for the injury. Since Jesus was innocent, the servant needed to apologize and show repentance.

This challenge was indirectly addressed to Annas, for he was responsible for the servant’s behavior; he had permitted the offense. This kind of charge is made today against anyone who strikes another without just cause, or permits his followers to intimidate the innocent. Our Lord loves those of little account and says, "Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me".

After Annas had noticed that Jesus did not submit to his threats, but rather stood as himself the judge and questioned him about truth and justice, he sent Jesus to his son-in-law Caiaphas, the wily fox, to be rid of that problem.

JOHN 18:25-27
25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said therefore to him, “You aren’t also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, being a relative of him whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter therefore denied it again, and immediately the rooster crowed.

Caiaphas questioned Jesus regarding his disciples. Two of them were standing in the courtyard, but did not confess to being the Lord’s followers. Peter in the light of the flames appeared to be foreign, and the servants had their doubts as to his links with Jesus. Again Peter answered, "No, No".

One of those who suspected him made such an accusation. So all glared at him and he became upset, especially when one of the servants said, "I know you; I saw you in the garden". Danger reached a climax, for the speaker was a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut. John does not detail the curses Peter uttered or his denial of Jesus, but he verifies Peter’s cowardly conduct, unworthy of the leading apostle.

The cock-crow was like a bugle sound of judgment in Peter’s ears. Jesus had not found any disciple willing to follow even to death. All of them either fled, sinned, lied or denied him. Nor does John tell us of Peter’s tears or repentance, but John highlights the peril of denying our Lord. The cock crew three times to alarm Peter. God grant us a cock to crow every time we lie or fear to confess our Lord. The Spirit of truth wishes to descend on us. Ask Jesus for a truthful tongue and upright heart and a sound mind.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we thank you, because you are Truth, Patience and Majesty. Forgive us all manner of lies and exaggeration. You bore the bonds of mankind, bind us by your Spirit, so that our tongues may not utter lies any more. Root us in your truth, and teach us to witness in your name, humbly, wisely and resolutely.


  1. What was the relationship between Jesus and Peter during the interrogation before Annas?


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