The Gospel of John: a commentary & meditation 
"It was expedient that one man should die for the people"

Scripture: John 18:12-27

12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews seized Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas; for he was the father-in-law of Ca'iaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Ca'iaphas who had given counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. 15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. As this disciple was known to the high priest, he entered the court of the high  priest along with Jesus, 16 while Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the maid who kept the  door, and brought Peter in. 17 The maid who kept the door said to Peter, "Are not you also one of this man's disciples?" He said, "I am not." 18 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. 19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 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 secretly. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me, what I said to them; they know what I said." 22 When he had said this, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" 23 Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" 24 Annas then sent him bound to Ca'iaphas the high priest. 25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They said to him, "Are not you also one of his disciples?" He denied it and said, "I am  not." 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" 27 Peter again denied it; and at once the cock crowed.

Meditation: After his arrest Jesus was first led to Annas rather than to Caiaphas the high priest. Annas had bribed his way into the office of high priest for several years and succeeded in getting his sons to be high priests in their turn. Now his son-in-law, Caiaphas, held the position, no doubt because of Annas' great power and influence with politics and religion. It was Jewish belief that when the high priest asked for God's counsel for the nation, God spoke through him. What dramatic irony that Caiaphas had prophesied that Jesus must die for the nation (see John 11:51).  Annas' questioning of Jesus, however, violated the principles of a fair and just trial. Jewish law protected a prisoner from incriminating himself through questioning.  As one Jewish scholar put it: "Our true law does not inflict the penalty of death upon a sinner by his own confession" (Maimonides, 1135-1204 AD).  Jesus replied to Annas' interrogation that the just and proper way to proceed with a trial was to get testimony by examining witnesses rather than examining the accused. Annas, however wasn't interested in a fair trial.  He had already condemned Jesus before trying him.

Peter was one of the two disciples who had the courage to follow Jesus to the house of the high priest. He could not part from his beloved Master even after his arrest.  His courage is all the more evident when we remember that Peter had cut the ear of the high priest's slave and could easily have been arrested for doing so.  Who was the other disciple who came to the high priest's house?  It was likely John, the beloved disciple who was also with Jesus when he hung upon the cross at Golgatha.  Peter's courage in the face of repeated questioning by the high priest's household, however, gave way to fear, fear for his own life.  Peter was overconfident in his own strength and now he must pay the price for his own denial of being a disciple of Jesus. Peter, after all, had been warned by his Master that temptation would come and he would fail the test. Mark records that Peter "broke down and wept" when he remembered Jesus' prediction that he would deny his Master. Unlike Judas who killed himself because his shame was devoid of any hope for forgiveness and restoration, Peter's grief was filled with sorrow for offending his Lord. When you meet failure and temptation, do you give in to despair and self-pity or do you turn to Jesus for the grace of restoration and beginning anew?

"Lord Jesus, you willingly suffered and died for our sake and for our salvation.  You took upon yourself the burden of our guilt and the punishment due to our sins.    Strengthen my faith and help me in my trials that I may never deny you or forsake your ways."

Go to | Gospel of John | Daily Readings & Meditations | Words of Life |
(c) 1999,2001 Don Schwager