13 First they led him to Annas, because he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year. 14 Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews, “It is better that one man die for the people.” 15 Simon Peter and another disciple kept following Jesus. That disciple was known to the high priest, so he went into the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. 16 But Peter stood outside by the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out and talked to the girl watching the door and brought Peter in. 17 “You are not one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. “I am not!” he said. 18 The servants and guards were standing around a fire of coals that they had made because it was cold. While they warmed themselves, Peter was standing with them, warming himself too. 19 The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in a synagogue or at the temple, where all the Jews gather. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why are you questioning me? Ask those who heard what I told them. Look, they know what I said.” 22 When he said this, one of the guards standing there hit Jesus in the face. “Is that how you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus answered, “testify about what was wrong. But if I was right, why did you hit me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. 25 Simon Peter continued to stand there warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not!” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Peter denied it again, and just then a rooster crowed.
After he was arrested, Jesus was first brought to Annas for questioning. Then he was brought before Caiaphas. We notice one apparent discrepancy in our Scripture reading. Verse 19 refers to Annas as the high priest. Verse 24 gives that title to Caiaphas. Actually this seeming contradiction is easily explained. Annas had served as the high priest for a number of years. But the Romans removed him from office and gave the position to his son-in-law; Caiaphas. Many Jews apparently didn’t approve of the Romans actions. They still considered Annas the high priest. That is likely why John gave the title to both men.
John doesn’t record many of the details of Jesus’ trial before the high priest. But from the information provided by the four Gospels we can see that the trial was no trial at all. Annas questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teachings. Jesus correctly answered that he hid nothing. His teachings were well known. But Jesus was struck in the face by a guard for telling the truth. It is evident the high priests and the Sanhedrin weren’t interested in finding out the truth about Jesus. They wanted to be rid of him and they would do whatever was necessary to make sure that happened.
While Jesus was on trial, another trial was going on in the high priest’s courtyard. Peter and another disciple (most likely John) followed at a distance after Jesus was arrested. John was known by the high priest, so he was able to gain admittance for Peter into the courtyard. Peter was recognized by some of the others who were in the courtyard. Peter was asked three times if he was one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter forgot his bold words made earlier that same night. He swore that he faithfully follow Jesus and that he would even give his life for his Lord. (See John 13:37) Instead he now shamefully denied that he even knew Jesus each time he was questioned.
After Peter’s third denial we’re told that the rooster crowed. This fulfilled Jesus’ own prophecy that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. (See John 13:38) After this Luke records how Jesus showed great mercy to Peter. Jesus turned and looked directly at his wayward disciple. Then Peter remembered that Jesus foretold this would happen. Jesus’ look was a call to repentance. Peter went outside and wept bitterly. (See Luke 22:61-62)
It’s easy to criticize the Jewish leaders who blatantly ignored the truth that Jesus is the true Son of God. They falsely accused him, beat him, and demanded that he must die even though they had no valid charges to bring against him. It’s also easy to criticize Peter for openly denying Jesus even though he promised to stand firm in his faith and follow his Lord no matter what. But how often haven’t we also denied our Lord Jesus? Have we failed to confess Jesus when we had the opportunities? We didn’t want to risk being criticized for our faith in this sinful world that increasingly rejects Jesus. How often haven’t we joined in sinful activities just because everyone else was doing the same thing? How often haven’t we put Jesus on the bottom of our priority list because we had too many other things to do? Then we are denying Jesus just as Peter did. Then we are also no better than the Sanhedrin. Our sins condemned Jesus to death, just as their sins did.
But our Lord Jesus shows us his great mercy. He looks at us through his Word. His Law condemns us of our sins and drives us to repentance. His Gospel calls on us to look at Jesus’ suffering and death. Be comforted as you weep the tears of repentance. Believe that Jesus endured all these things for you. Through his death you are forgiven. No sin was too great for Jesus to overcome. Trust that because of Jesus, your salvation remains certain.
1 – What prophecy had Caiaphas made earlier about Jesus?
He said, “It is better that one man die for the people.” (See also John 11:49-50) Caiaphas said this for political reasons. He was afraid that the Romans might intervene if Jesus stirred up the people. But he didn’t realize he was actually prophesying that Jesus would give his life for all people to save us from our sins.
2 – As Jesus was arrested, Peter followed at a distance. He wanted to know what would happen to Jesus. But what poor judgement did Peter show as he entered the courtyard of the high priest?
Peter entered a place where he would be surrounded by Jesus’ enemies. Peter thought he was strong enough to endure whatever temptations he would face. But instead, when he had the opportunity to stand up for his Savior, Peter’s faith failed him. He denied knowing Jesus three times.
3 – What does this example teach us when we are faced with temptation?
We should never assume that we are strong enough to stand up against temptation by ourselves. We have given in to temptation many times. Instead we should do our best to avoid those situations where we know we will face temptation. When we do face temptation, we should pray to our Lord for strength to say “no” to sin. Finally, when those times occur that we give in to temptation, we repent of our sins and trust that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
4 – What was the significance of the rooster crowing after Peter’s denial of Jesus?
This completed the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. (See John 13:38)
If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to