12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him 13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jewish leaders that it would be good if one man died for the people.
15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in.
17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter.
He replied, “I am not.”
18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.
20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.”
22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded.
23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?”
He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
(John 18:12-27 NIV)
From our passage yesterday, Jesus was with His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane when Judas Iscariot arrived with the Jewish officials, the Pharisees, and the temple guards to betray and arrest Jesus. The Jews expected a fight with Jesus and His disciples, so they came armed and ready. But Jesus willingly identified Himself and gave Himself up.
In today’s passage, we see Jesus being arrested and taken away (v. 12) to Annas’ house (v. 13). Annas had been high priest in prior years. Annas was powerful and highly influential in Jewish religious circles. Since religious life was the most important part of Jewish culture, this made Annas the most important and influential Jewish person in his day. Historians tell us that five of Annas’ sons, his son-in-law Caiaphas, and one of his grandsons served as high priest in first-century Jerusalem.
Verses 15 and 16 identify Peter and “another disciple” who were following Jesus. The one identified as “another disciple” was the Apostle John, the author of this Gospel. John was an acquaintance of Annas, so he was let into the courtyard to warm himself by the fire. John was a known disciple of Jesus – he made no attempt to hide his affiliation with Jesus.
Peter, on the other hand, is questioned about being Jesus’ disciple, not from his relationship with Jesus, but from his friendship with John (v. 17). Peter would be challenged again in verse 25, and again in verse 26. In verse 26, one of the relatives of Malchus, the high priest’s servant whom Peter had cut off his ear (v. 10) questioned Peter about being in the Garden of Gethsemane when the crowd arrested Jesus. Peter denied association with Jesus all three times.
Just as Jesus predicted in John 13:38, the rooster crowed after Peter denied Jesus the third time. John leaves out the details covered in the other Gospel accounts, of Jesus looking at Peter, and Peter leaving and weeping bitterly for having denied his association with Jesus.
Meanwhile, Jesus was being interrogated inside (vv. 19-24). Annas is questioning Jesus, and Jesus tells Annas that He has nothing to hide. He taught in public places, and He welcomes Annas to ask anyone about His teachings.
This interrogation was not a formal trial, but merely a delay tactic to allow the Sanhedrin (the governing Jewish body) to gather. As soon as the Sanhedrin was gathered, Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas, the high priest. Caiaphas would then officiate the trial before the Sanhedrin.
While John records Peter having denied knowing Jesus three times, John is also the only Gospel writer that records Jesus’ forgiveness and restoration of Peter after His resurrection (John 21:15-19).
Like Peter, we deny association with our Lord in various ways. And Jesus forgives us and reinstates us as His children, loving us unconditionally, just as He did with Peter.
His love for us in not based on what we do or don’t do, but because He loves us.