My column this week is from John 18:19-27, where “The High Priest Questions Jesus” and “Peter’s Second and Third Denials.”
Verse 19 – Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about His disciples and His teaching.
These were not legal questions asked by the high priest since witnesses were supposed to be brought in first to establish guilt.
The accused was not required to prove His innocence. Perhaps Annas regarded this as a preliminary inquiry, not a trial.
Verses 20, 21 – “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. Why question Me? Ask those who heard Me. Surely they know what I said.”
It should not have been difficult to find witnesses for Jesus said: “I have spoken openly.” “I have said nothing in secret.” Not a denial that He taught the disciples privately, but a denial that He had secretly taught them subversive teaching different from His public message.
Verse 22 – When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck Him in the face. “Is this the way You answer the high priest?” he demanded.
One of the officials who was near Jesus struck Him in the face, another illegality. The word apparently means a blow with the open hand—a slap.
Verses 23, 24 – “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike Me?”
Then Annas sent Him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.
A legal term, testify, indicating an invitation to act in proper legal form. John stresses the importance of testimony throughout his gospel.
John the Baptist’s singular ministry was to testify to Jesus (see John 10:41). “Witness” is another important concept in this gospel of John.
The noun (“witness” or “testimony”) is used 14 times in (Matthew not at all, in Mark, three times, in Luke once and the verb (“testify”) 33 times (found once each in Matthew and Luke, not at all in Mark) in both cases more often than anywhere else in the New Testament.
John (the author) thereby emphasizes that the facts about Jesus are amply attested. That through Him all men might believe. The people were not to believe “in” John the Baptist but “through” him. Similarly, the writer’s purpose was to draw them to belief in Jesus Christ (see John 20:31); John uses the verb “believe” 98 times.
Verse 25 – As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, “You are not one of His disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.”
Simon Peter was asked literally while standing around the fire with others warming themselves, “Are you not one of His disciples? He replied, “I am not.” Some find a difficulty in that Matthew 26:71 says another girl asked this question, whereas Mark 14:69 says it was the same girl, and Luke 22:58 indicates that it was a man. But with a group of servants talking around a fire, several would doubtless take up and repeat such a question, which could be the meaning of John’s “they.” As on the first occasion (see John 18:17) the question anticipated the answer “No.”
The servants probably did not really expect to find a follower of Jesus in the high priest’s courtyard, but the question seemed worth asking.
Verse 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 olive grove?”
A relative of the man whose ear Peter cut off challenged him. Another piece of information we owe to John. The relative would have a deeper interest in the swordsman than other people had. But the light in the garden would have been dim, as in the courtyard (a charcoal fire glows, but does not have flames). The question expected the answer to be “yes.”
Verse 27 – Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.
The rooster beginning to crow was a sign of the fulfillment of the prophecy in John 13:38.
My prayer: I will praise You O God, among the nations; I will sing of You among the peoples. For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. I love You Lord. Amen.
Scripture and commentary from John 18:19-27.
Next week my column will be from John 18:28-40, “Jesus Before Pilate.”
You can reach Dick at firstname.lastname@example.org.