Sapphire Sky

November 7, 2015

Before the High Priest

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 9:56 pm

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It was Thursday night before the Passover. At some time after midnight, Judas had led the temple guards and the Roman soldiers up the slopes of the Mount of Olives to where they found Jesus. There it was that the entire crowd fell down when this Rabbi called upon the name of God. There it was that one of His disciples charged into the crowd with a sword, severing a servant’s ear. There it was that Jesus healed the man’s ear and made His disciples leave (see here).

The soldiers bound Jesus and took Him back to the high priest’s palace in the city of Jerusalem. There, at the palace, were two of the most powerful men in Judea. Annas was the former high priest who had been deposed by the Romans. But Annas still directed the religious leadership in Jerusalem and he had placed in his own son-in-law, Caiaphas, in the position of high priest (see here).

Annas and Caiaphas had been trying for several months to capture Jesus and now they had him! They had successfully hired one of Jesus’ own disciples to turn Him in. They desperately wanted to kill him, and now all they needed to do was convene a trial so that He could be executed.

As Jesus was being brought into the palace, they hurriedly gathered the ruling council (the Sanhedrin) so that they could get a guilty verdict. It was imperative that they finish this trial and execution before morning. The crowds had shouted His praises when He entered Jerusalem (see here) and they may not like to see their prophet on trial. No one wanted a riot.

Everything about this trial was illegal. It was done hastily, without proper witnesses, without a defense, at night, and the only evidence they could find was a forced confession (see here).

Jesus’ eleven disciples had all scattered at his arrest. Two of these disciples, Peter and John, had apparently gathered enough courage to follow Jesus to the high priest’s palace. John knew the high priest, so he was able to gain entrance to the courtyard for both himself and Peter. There, from this courtyard, Peter could watch the events of Jesus’s trial unfold.

Jesus was first brought to Annas while Caiaphas gathered the Sanhedrin. Annas began to question Jesus, looking for an admission of guilt. Jesus simply answered that he had done nothing in secret. He was telling Annas that if he had charges against him, he needed to bring forth witnesses. The priest’s attendant struck Jesus (literally, punched him in the face) for his response, but even that did not cause Jesus to react in anger. Annas could find nothing incriminating against Jesus, so he sent Him to Caiaphas.

Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard, looking for a place to warm himself in the cold night air. The guards and servants huddled around a small fire. Peter may have been reflecting on the night’s events. He had single-handedly attacked a Roman cohort of 600 men, failing miserably! Now his master was being arrested and tried by wicked men, and all he could do was watch!

Just then, the voice of a servant girl broke through to Peter’s thoughts. “You’re not one of them, are you?”, she asked. This was not the place to make a scene; it would accomplish nothing. Why couldn’t she just leave him alone?

We can only guess at what Peter was thinking, but we know his reaction. He quickly snapped to the servant girl, “I am not!”

Meanwhile, the trial of Jesus moved to the next stage. Annas could not find any charges against Him, and he was brought before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin had hastily gathered in the night so that they could form an indictment against this man. They needed two reliable witnesses to charge Him with a crime, but they could not even hire witnesses who would agree! The closest that they could come was when two witnesses claimed that Jesus had said that He would destroy their great temple. But even these witnesses were inconsistent and unreliable.

Jesus kept silent throughout this entire trial. There was no value to speaking in this mock trial, but Jesus also knew the prophecy:

Isaiah 53:7
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
   yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
   and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
   so he opened not his mouth.

Finally, Caiaphas spoke out in frustration. The morning was coming soon and they still did not have any charges against this man. Caiaphas demanded with an oath that Jesus answer them. “Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?”

Jesus replied, “I am, and I will come back and judge you with the authority of God himself!” Jesus had answered them very directly. He was the Messiah, the king of the Jews. But he also was God. He made it absolutely clear that the only charge against Him was blasphemy. They wanted to kill Him because He said that He was God!

The high priest tore his robes in the feigned horror. “What further witnesses do we need! You have heard it yourselves!” The council replied, “He deserves death!”

Then the members of the high council themselves descended on Jesus, beating Him, spitting on Him, and ridiculing Him. The ones who accused Him of blasphemy now blasphemed His holy name!

The Sanhedrin could not execute a man. They needed to bring Him to the Romans with their charges. But they had conducted this trial in the middle of the night, and they knew that the Romans would never agree to such a mockery of justice. They needed to wait until the morning light in order to give some legitimacy to their affairs before they could bring Him to the Romans.

Therefore, they put Jesus in holding (probably a dungeon or a cellar) until the first light of morning.

Meanwhile, Peter escaped the crowd from the courtyard and had moved to the entranceway of the high priest’s palace. He took little notice of the rooster crowing as he approached the entrance. Peter’s solitude was not to last long. Another servant girl identified him, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” Peter answered the crowd with an oath, “ I swear I do not know the man!”

Peter made his way back to the courtyard. An hour passed before Peter was identified for a third time. This time, it was one of the relatives of the servant of the high priest, the very man whom Peter had removed from his ear earlier that night.

The accusations were much stronger and much more specific this time. The servant’s relative remembered him on the Mount of Olives. They all noticed his speech, that he spoke with a Galilean accent. Surely he must be one of Jesus’ disciples!

Peter responded in terror. The account says that he pronounced a curse on himself lest he lie, and swore (affirm with an oath) that he did not know the man!

At the same time that this is happening, dawn is just beginning to break. The Sanhedrin have sent to bring Jesus back from the dungeon so they can finish the trial. As they led Jesus through the courtyard, Peter was in the middle of his oaths, shouting that he did not know the man! Just then the rooster crows, announcing the dawn.

Jesus simply looked at Peter. Peter was crushed! Possibly for the first time that night, Peter realized how far he has fallen. The account simply says that Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Now that dawn is coming, the Sanhedrin brought Jesus back to ask Him again if He was the Messiah. He did not answer them until they asked if He is the Messiah and the Son of God. It is not enough for them to accuse Jesus of simply being the Messiah. He is not going to trial as a usurper, but it must be clear that they are charging Him as a blasphemer. He said that He was God, and that is why they want to kill Him! [1]

 

Remember!

  • The lesson from Peter – we often prepare for the big battles yet fall for the small things. We are ready to fight Roman soldiers but fall when questioned by a servant girl!
  • Peter recognized his failure and repented. What makes a disciple is how we we repent when we fail!
  • Jesus left us an example of how to respond when we suffer unjustly. Peter himself said later in his life:

For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
1 Peter 2:19-24

 

Previous post: The Trial of Jesus Christ


John 18:12-27

So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.


Matthew 26:57-27:1

Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.


Mark 14:53-15:1a

And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council.


Luke 22:54-71

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”


 

First Jewish trial before Annas

John 18:12-14
So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

Luke 22:54a
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house,

The priests, the temple guard, and the soldiers all took Jesus, bound Him, and led Him away. They took Him back into the city of Jerusalem, back to the Western Hill, to the house of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the high priest, but his father-in-law, Annas, was the one in control (see here).

Jesus Christ was bound, almost as a fulfillment of Psalm 118:27:
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
   up to the horns of the altar!

The Sadducean Annas was an eminently safe Churchman, not troubled with any special convictions nor with Jewish fanaticism, a pleasant and a useful man also who was able to furnish his friends in the Prætorium with large sums of money.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

“Annas, a shrewd politician, was something of a ‘godfather’ in the temple establishment.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

John 18:19-23
The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?”

The Jews had a problem. They knew what they wanted to do, but they had to find a legal reason to murder Jesus. They already had the sentence, but they did not have the crime.

Their first attempt was to see if Annas, the former High Priest, could get a confession out of Jesus. While Caiaphas was gathering the Sanhedrin, Annas took Jesus aside to question Him.

Annas broke the Jewish laws by questioning Jesus and trying to get Jesus to incriminate Himself [1]. Jewish law required that you do not accuse a person without witnesses, and you do not interrogate a witness in secret (see here). Jesus told Annas to live up to his own rules. He refused to answer Annas’ questions and simply said that he did nothing in secret. If they have a case against Him, then they needs to bring forth witnesses.

Annas had broken the Jewish laws by holding a secret trial at night. Jesus essential told Annas, “You’re out of line!” [4]

To further their depravity, the attendant strikes Jesus when he refuses to answer (also illegal). Literally, the guard punched Him in the face!

The Apostle Paul responded in fury when he received a similar treatment (Acts 23:1-5). Jesus did not retaliate, but simply called them out on their own weakness.

1 Peter 2:23
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten,but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Annas had probably hoped to get an indictment against Jesus. Instead, he could find no charges against Jesus and he sends Him to Caiaphas.

“ Jewish law demanded that witnesses be called before a prisoner was questioned. Annas defied this law, and eventually the council hired false witnesses.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

 

Peter’s First Denial

John 18:15-16,18
Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

Matthew 26:58
And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end.

Mark 14:54
And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire.

Luke 22:54b-55
and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.  

Meanwhile, two of the disciples had recovered from their fright. Peter and another disciple (commonly believed to be John) followed Jesus to the house of the high priest. John knew the high priest and was allowed into the courtyard. He then spoke to the servant girl who was attending the gate and let Peter in as well.

It was a cold clear night and Peter huddled with the guards and their servants around the fire.

The two disciples could not witness the actual trial, but at least they were near enough to see the outcome. [3]

Peter followed afar off, thinking of nothing else but his imprisoned Master, and that he would see the end, whatever it might be.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

“Backsliding always begins with neglect of prayer. If you want to be kept from backsliding, then you want to be sure you spend much time in secret with God.” – H.A. Ironside [5]

 

John 18:17
The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”

Matthew 26:69-70
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.”

Mark 14:66-68a
And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.”

Luke 22:56-57
Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

Peter must have looked familiar to the servant girl who was watching the gate. It says that she came over to Peter saying, “you’re not with that Galilean, are you?” The term “Galilean” would have been a slur to these prideful Judean people, and the context of Jesus’s trial made Peter deny it.

The text indicates that she expected a negative answer, “You’re not one of them, are you?”

She spoke to Peter in front of the crowd. Peter denied it before all of them.

Peter appears to be prepared to follow Jesus to whatever big events will befall Him. He was ready to fight for him on the Mount of Olives and he may have been prepared to stand in trial right next to Him. But he was never prepared to be identified by a servant girl, in the common crowd. The man who protested that he would never turn from Jesus now denies him.

1 Corinthians 10:12
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

Like Peter, we are often prepared for the major battles but fall for the small ones.

“If you get those formal challenges where you can choose your weapons and plan your strategy, you’re fortunate. But watch out for the sudden blows when you’re not ready, when you’re trusting in the flesh. They’re the ones that will flatten you.” – John MacArthur [6]

Your character isn’t manifest by what you prepare to do, it’s manifest by what you’re not prepared for, and how you react to that, that involuntary reaction.” – John MacArthur [6]

 

Second Jewish Trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin

John 18:24
Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Matthew 26:57
Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered.

Mark 14:53
And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together.

Meanwhile, Annas has sent Jesus to the next room, we’re Caiaphas in the Sanhedrin had gathered. Annas was unable to find any charges against Jesus, so He is sent to the Sanhedrin.

The leading men of Jerusalem, the priests, the elders, and the scribes, all formed the governing body over all the Jewish religious matters. They were not allowed to execute criminals, but they could try the criminals and then present them to the Roman rulers for execution as needed (see here).

Caiaphas, who hated Jesus and wanted to kill Him, has now gathered a quorum of the Sanhedrin in the middle of the night. They are all ready to give Jesus a guilty verdict.

The Sanhedrin has one major problem though. What is the crime? They needed to bring Jesus to the Romans with charges that the Romans would believe to be worthy of his death.

This was a well-organized conspiracy to have gathered the Sanhedrin in the middle of the night. However, this was also illegal on two counts: criminal trials were not to be held at night and capital cases were not to be tried outside of the public meeting place of the Sanhedrin.

 

Matthew 26:59-63a
Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent.

Mark 14:55-61a
Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer.

Jewish law required that matters be settled at the testimony of two witnesses. However, they could not find two witnesses who would even lie correctly! Even the false witnesses that they hired couldn’t get their story straight!

Finally, they found two men who claimed that Jesus said he would destroy the temple (John 2:19-21). Specifically, Jesus had said, “[you] destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”. But this had been three years earlier and no one understood what he meant. Now they had distorted the story to believe that he was out to destroy their great temple. But even with that story, they couldn’t find enough of a credible witness to bring it to Rome.

“On that night of terror, when all the enmity of man and the power of hell were unchained, even the falsehood of malevolence could not lay any crime to His charge, nor yet any accusation be brought against him other than the misrepresentation of His symbolic Words.” – Alfred Edersheim [2]

We know that this was not all of the Sanhedrin. We know from John 12:42-43 that Jesus had secret followers, even among the rulers of the people. Luke 23:50-51 tells of Joseph, a Sanhedrin member who was not consenting to His arrest. Nicodemus also appears to be a secret follower of Jesus (John 7:50-52; John 3:1-15). However, the priests only needed enough of the Sanhedrin to form a quorum.

Through all of these ridiculous proceedings, Jesus kept silent. They were condemning themselves by the extent that they went just to get a guilty verdict for Him. Jesus also knew the fulfillment of Isaiah 53, and He kept his silence.

Isaiah 53:7
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
   yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
   and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
   so he opened not his mouth.

 

Matthew 26:63b-66
And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

Mark 14:61b-64
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.

Finally, the high priest himself ordered Jesus to speak. He demanded that Jesus testify under oath, “Are you the Messiah, the son of the living God?”

For the first time, they had clearly mentioned the two things that Jesus had spent His entire ministry proclaiming about Himself. He was the Messiah, He was the long promised one who would lead God’s people and save them from their sin. But He was more than that, Jesus was also God himself, come to earth.

The fact that Jesus would dare mention that he was God scandalized the Jews! By their law, he was a blasphemer and deserve death! The high priest tore his robes in feigned horror at this supposed blasphemy.

But the Romans did not care about this blasphemy. The Romans would not kill a man over his claim to be God. However, Jesus also said that he was the Messiah. The Messiah was the king of the Jews, and this was something that the Romans cared about! The Romans had no room for sedition and would quickly crush anyone who might start a revolt [1].

They had him!

As mentioned before, this is the grossest violation of their Jewish law. During a secret trial at night, in a private residence, after He was beaten during the trial, after they could not even bribe false witnesses to get their lies straight, they order Jesus Christ to testify against Himself!

To their surprise, Jesus answers them. He IS the Messiah, and He IS God. He makes it absolutely clear why they are killing Him. It is not for sedition, but because He is the Son of God! [1]

But Jesus does not stop there. He applies the well-known prophecy about the Messiah to Himself: Psalm 110:1, Daniel 7:13.

“He says, ‘I am the One who has the right hand of divine authority – I will speak and when I do, you will be hearing the authoritative voice of God Himself.’” – Stephen Davey [4]

Psalm 110:1
The Lord says to my Lord:
   “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Daniel 7:13-14
“I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
   there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
   and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
   and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
   should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
   which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
   that shall not be destroyed.

 

Matthew 26:67-68
Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

Mark 14:65
And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

Luke 22:63-65
Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

What follows is one of the most vile and reprehensible acts at this time. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court, the elders of the people, step down from their seats of judgment and begin to abuse Jesus. They spit on him, punched him repeatedly, and covered his face in mockery.

Luke’s account of the most telling. The very men who accused Jesus Christ of blasphemy by now blaspheming the Holy Son of God!

This trial has convened illegally in the middle of the night. To give their trial some legitimacy, they put Jesus in holding and waited until morning light for the final verdict.

“I look at this scene and I’m overwhelmed at the grace of Christ. My deserved trial is enacted in His undeserved trial. My deserved sentence is enacted in His undeserved sentence. My deserved execution is carried out in His undeserved execution. My deserved condemnation is carried out in His undeserved condemnation.” – John MacArthur [6]

 

Peter’s Second and Third Denials

John 18:25
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”

Matthew 26:71-72
And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.”

Mark 14:68b-70a
And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it.

Luke 22:58
And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”

Meanwhile, Peter has been watching these proceedings from a distance. Peter left the courtyard after his encounter with the servant girl and went to the entryway. There, in the entryway, Peter hears a rooster crow. It is not morning light yet, but morning is coming. [7]

There are other people also gathered in the entryway and another servant girl identifies Peter. “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” From the combining of the accounts, it appears that there is a small crowd of people asking these questions. Peter again denies it to the crowd.

Peter’s response is stronger this time. Not only does he deny that he knows the man, but he adds an oath — a pledge of truthfulness of before God.

While Jesus is being beaten by the heads of state, Peter is in the courtyard yelling to a servant girl, “I do not know the man!”

“In the flock, the safest people are closest to the shepherd.” – Stephen Davey [4]

 

John 18:26-27
One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Matthew 26:73-75
After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Mark 14:70b-72
And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Luke 22:59-62
And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Peter has now denied Jesus Christ twice. Still frightened of the crowd, Peter apparently makes his way back to the courtyard around the fire. An hour has passed since the previous incident. Peter may be feeling more comfortable and more confident. But then his past catches up to him. Peter had tried to kill the high priest’s servant back on the Mount of Olives, and now that servant’s relative identifies him.

The accusations appear to be much stronger now, and much more specific. The servant’s relative remembers him on the Mount of Olives. They all notice his speech, that he speaks with the Galilean accent. Surely he must be one of Jesus’ disciples!

Peter responds in terror. The account says that he began to pronounce a curse on himself if he may be lying, and swear (affirm with an oath) that he does not know the man!

At the same time that this is happening, dawn is just beginning to break. The Sanhedrin have gone to bring Jesus back from the dungeon so that they can finish the trial. As they lead Jesus through the courtyard, Peter is in the middle of his oaths, shouting that he does not know the man! Just then the rooster crows, announcing the dawn.

Jesus simply looks at Peter. Peter is crushed. Possibly for the first time that night, Peter realizes how far he has fallen. The account simply says that Peter went out and wept bitterly.

“Spiritual self-confidence, thinking you’re invulnerable, insubordination, prayerlessness, independence leads to compromise.  If you think you can handle every situation, you’re going to get into some situations, believe me, you can’t handle.” – John MacArthur [6]

“The crowing of the cock was assurance to Peter that Jesus was totally in control of the situation, even though He was bound and being harassed by the authorities. By controlling one bird, Jesus affirmed His sovereignty.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

“It is to Peter’s credit that all the Lord had to do was look at him to bring him to the place of repentance.” – Warren Wiersbe [3]

“In Luke 22:32, Jesus said, ‘Peter, Satan desires to have you, but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not.’ You know why Peter’s faith didn’t totally fail?  Because the Lord had what?  Prayed for him. … Listen, the reason that we stay saved is not because of something we’ve done, but because the Lord holds us.” – John MacArthur [6]

 

Third Jewish Trial before the Sanhedrin

Matthew 27:1
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.

Mark 15:1a
And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council.

Luke 22:66-71
When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

The Sanhedrin convenes again at the very first hint of dawn (probably between 5-6 a.m.). Now they can pronounce a verdict that may look legitimate.

They bring Jesus back and ask him, “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus does not answer them.

Then they add, “Are you the son of God?” Jesus says, “I am”. It is not enough for them to accuse Jesus of simply being the Messiah. He is not going to trial as a usurper, but he wants to make it perfectly clear that they are charging Him as a blasphemer. He said that he was God, and that is why they want to kill him! [1]

 


 

[1] Doug Bookman, The Illegal Trial before the Sanhedrin
Life of Christ, Audio Series, Lecture 14. http://www.bookmanministries.com/
Passion Week, Audio Series, Lectures 7-8. http://www.bookmanministries.com/
Behold The Lamb, Audio Series, Part 6 http://www.bookmanministries.com/

 

[2] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Book V, CHAPTER XIII. THURSDAY NIGHT – BEFORE ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS – PETER AND JESUS

 

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Matthew 26:57-75, pages 79-82
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, Mark 14:53-72, pages 131-132
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, John 18:12-27, pages 299-304

 

[4] Stephen Davey, A Tribute to the Lamb: Guilty!, John 18:1-24
Stephen Davey, And the Rooster Crowed, John 18:15-27
Stephen Davey, The Illegal Trial of Jesus Christ, John 18; Matthew 26

 

[5] H.A. Ironside, Address 61, PETER’S DENIAL, John 18:15-27

 

[6] John MacArthur, Jesus’ Trial, Peter’s Denial, John 18:12-27
John MacArthur, The Restoration of a Sinning Saint, Matthew 26:58, 69-75
John MacArthur, The Illegal, Unjust Trials of Jesus, Part 2, Matthew 26:62-68

 

[7] Some commentators believe that the “rooster crow” in these passages are a reference to a time of the night, and not an actual rooster. In Roman time, the time between Midnight and 3 a.m. was called “Cockcrow watch”. The reference in Mark 13:35 is to this “cockcrow watch”. Therefore, they say that the Peter did not hear a rooster, but the trumpet blast ending “cockcrow watch” (i.e. 3 a.m.).

The biggest problem with this belief (that this was not a real rooster but simply the “cockcrow watch signal”) is that Mark’s account identifies two rooster crows. The first crowing occurs before Peter’s second denial and the second crowing is after the third denial (Mark 14:66-72). But Luke’s account says that an hour had elapsed between the second and third denials (Luke 22:59). Therefore, if the rooster crow was really a trumpet blast, the two signals would have been over an hour apart.

 

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6 Comments »

  1. […] Previous Post: Before the High Priest […]

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  3. […] Peter was one of Jesus’ closest companions during His life, yet he was missing during Jesus’ death. Peter had followed John into the High Priest’s courtyard, yet it was there that Peter denied ever knowing Jesus. The narrative last shows Peter as a broken man, leaving the courtyard in tears as he realized his guilt (see here). […]

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  4. […] Most of his other friends had run away, but Peter and John had gathered enough courage to follow the soldiers at a distance. He followed them to the High Priest’s palace and watched his teacher’s trial from the courtyard (see here). […]

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  5. […] Three overnight trials by the Jews; Peter’s denials (Matthew 26:57-27:1; Mark 14:53-15:1; Luke 22:54-71; John 18:12-27) […]

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  6. […] Jesus quoted this exact phrase from Daniel when he was on trial before the Jewish religious leaders. He was announcing to them that he was their Messiah and he would be coming in judgement on them (see here)! […]

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