John 18 Part 3

Resumed from part 2


Continuing, “Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself.” He was actually standing among them, but there is a parallel if you look at Luke chapter 22. In verse 55 we get an extra little detail. It tells us that, “After they had kindled the fire in the middle of the courtyard, and sat down together, Peter was sitting among them.”
So, Peter was first walking with them, then he stood, and finally, he sat down. You see the imagery here? There is a continually higher level of commitment and compromise and he is putting himself further and further in harm’s way. Frankly, you don’t want to be sitting with the enemy. The wise person really will not have that kind of connection or temptation.
So, Peter is asked these questions and then the text continues, with Jesus’ trial. “The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples and about His teaching. Jesus answered them, ‘I have spoken openly to the world, I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews came together; and I spoke nothing in secret. Why do you question Me? Question those who have heard what I spoke to them; they know what I said’. When He said this, one of the officers standing nearby struck Jesus, saying, ‘Is that the way You answer the high priest’? Jesus answered him, ‘If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you strike Me’?”
Frankly, I must tell you, that they violated about twenty laws concerning the Sanhedrin at His trials. There were many laws, specific to trials, that the Sanhedrin had to obey. One of those was that you wouldn’t convene it at night or in secret. They violated their own traditions because they hated Jesus, who violated their traditions. Catch that? He never violated the law. He fully kept the law. He did violate human tradition and they hated Him for it. The irony here is that they were willing to violate their own traditions to nail Him. It is quite remarkable. They had no right to strike Him in front of the high priest.
So, in verse 24, “Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.” This brings on another trial and He is on His way to that. “Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, ‘Are you not also one of His disciples’? He denied it and said, ‘I am not’.” There is the second denial. Going on, in verse 26, “One of the slaves of the high priest, being a relative of the one whose ear Peter cut off, said, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with Him’? Peter denied it again and immediately a rooster crowed.” Actually, in other parallel texts, it says he cursed.
Now, I want you to listen to this verse. It is found in Luke chapter 22, and only Luke records it. In verse 61 we get a remarkable account. But before that verse, let me read from a little bit earlier in the chapter. “Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance. After they had kindled the fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter was sitting among them. And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, ‘This man was with him, too’. But he denied it, saying, ‘Woman, I do not know Him’. A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too’! But Peter said, ‘Man, I am not’. After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, ‘Certainly, this man was also with Him, for he is a Galilean too’. But Peter said, ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about’. Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.” There we see the parallel.
But, here is the detail that I want you to listen to: Just as Peter denied Jesus for the third time, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter.” Do you see that little detail there? It is chilling because John’s account tells us that they were leading Him out and were sending Him, bound, to Caiaphas. They were sending Him from Annas to Caiaphas and as He was out in the courtyard Peter denied Him the third time and that was the moment their eyes met. So Peter was then bitterly repentant and it goes on to say, in the Lukan account, “And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He told him, ‘Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times’. And he went out and wept bitterly.” Now, Peter’s context here of his own conviction ultimately led to redemption. He wept over his sins and repented. While Judas admitted his sins, he did feel remorse but never felt true repentance. And so, there are ways in which we deny our Lord. The main way you can deny your Lord is by refusing to do what He commands you to do and by not honoring Him before others.
So, we have this portrait here of that denial, that motif of denial, and then in verse 28, “They led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.” Now, long before the Jewish leaders arrest Jesus in the garden, they had determined to kill Him. John 11 describes this. They planned to kill Him, especially now that the last straw was committed, namely the resurrection of Lazarus. So, they planned to kill Jesus and, by the way, also Lazarus.
But, they needed the cooperation of Rome. Here is what you have. You have six trials that He went through and they lasted most of the night. The first three trials were Jewish, or religious trials. Here is what they were. If you put the four Gospels together, here is the picture you get. First, you have one at the home of Annas. Secondly, you had another at the home of Caiaphas and included the members of the Sanhedrin.
Then, early the next morning there was a council trial. So, you had the three Jewish trials that took place throughout the night. Each time He was mocked and vilified and beaten.
Then, these were followed by three Roman trials or civil trials. As I said, they needed the cooperation of Rome. The Jews did not have the authority to execute a man. They would normally have stoned Him to death, but they wanted the Roman officials to publicly execute Him. You can ask the question if they needed permission, how is it that they stoned Stephen to death? My answer is that they didn’t go for public approval. It was an immediate thing and a crime of passion when they killed Stephen. In this case, however, they wanted Jesus to be publicly repudiated and rejected and therefore it required the cooperation of Rome.
So, the first appearance, then, was before Pilate. This took place in the Praetorium. Pilate’s residence was on the coast, in Caesarea. Have any of you visited Caesarea? If you have been to Israel you will almost certainly have seen it. In any event, what would take place, during the feast of Passover, Pontius Pilate, as the Roman Governor, would need to go up to Jerusalem because he wanted to make sure the crowds didn’t get out of hand. It was that large an event. The Romans had this fortress that was on the temple mount, the Antonia fortress, and this was where the Praetorium was located. The next civil trial was before Herod. You see, when Pilate discovered that Jesus was a Galilean, he said it was Herod’s jurisdiction. So he sent Him up there, hoping to get Jesus off his own hands. This irony is interesting because when Herod saw that Pilate had sent Jesus to him, they became friends. Before that, they were at enmity with one another. A common enemy brought them together.
But, Herod was disappointed when Jesus didn’t do any tricks. He wanted Him to perform some miracles. Jesus did not say a word to Herod. So, Herod sent Him back to Pilate. Poor Pilate was now in a tough position, because he acknowledged, repeatedly, that there was no sin in Jesus.
Now, Pilate, I might mention, was in office during the years 26 to 36, and was the Governor of the Roman province of Palestine. Palestine is a Roman name, not a Jewish name. The Roman name comes from the Philistines. So, Palestine comes from Philistine. Now you know where the word Palestine comes from, not from a people but from the Romans that named the providence or area. It was no honor to be the Governor of Palestine. This was not a great job. It was a backwater province and was considered a dead-end job.
So, apparently, Pilate hadn’t had the career he had hoped for. We do know that Pilate was a wishy-washy sort of guy, but he sure could be ruthless when the need arose. If you turn with me to Luke chapter 13, verses one and two, you see this very clearly. Jesus is alluding to an event that is not recorded in the Gospels, and, “Now on this same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate’?”
So, he could be brutal when necessary, and in this case, he understood the Jewish power structure. He knew how to use them, although his handling of the trial of Jesus indicated that he was something of an indecisive man, and a weak man, and a compromising man because in his heart he knows that Jesus was not guilty. In fact, he looked for a loophole and was trying to please both sides. He was afraid of the crowd, though. After a while, though, he became more afraid of the prisoner, and he began to wonder who, then, is this that I am dealing with? He knew this was not an ordinary man. Recall that his wife had actually had a dream and told him not to touch that righteous man and that made him even more afraid. He acknowledged that Jesus was not guilty of any crime.
This is mentioned twice in Luke and twice in John. Yet, he refused to release Him because they said if you do not deal with Him, you are allowing an insurrectionist to get away with political crimes. Basically, since Jesus said He was a king, Pilate had to deal with that and asked them what they wanted him to do with their king. They said they had no king but Caesar. Boy, that must have been hard for them to say. So much did they want to get Jesus that they proclaimed something they truly hated to say. They did not want to acknowledge the authority of Caesar, but they were desperate to get Jesus. Then they said if Pilate did not do this, word will get to Caesar and that will be the last straw. So, out of fear, Pilate washed his hands of the affair and he gave Him over to be crucified.
So, going back to the text, we have the three Jewish religious trials and three Roman civil trials, lasting all night long. They were psychologically, physically, and emotionally exhausting. Looking again at verse 28, “They led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early, and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover. Therefore, Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this Man’?” I love the answer they gave. Instead of giving him a cogent accusation, here is what they said: “If this Man were not an evil doer we would have not delivered Him over to you.” Talk about sidestepping the issue. “So Pilate said to them, ‘Take Him yourselves and judge Him according to your law’. The Jews said to him, ‘We are not permitted to put anyone to death’, to fulfill the word of Jesus which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.” It was clear He would not be stoned.


Continued in part 4

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