(Vs. 13-14) After the soldiers and temple police arrested our Lord Jesus in the garden, they led Him first to Annas. Who was Annas? (Luke 3:2: Acts 4:6). Most believe that he had been the high priest; but though now deposed, he remained the ruling power behind the office. The office of high priest was so corrupted it was often changed, being bought and sold for money. So when Christ was taken into custody, the first one to consult was Annas, the proud, ambitious, and wealthy older man, who really gave orders to his younger son-in-law, Caiaphas, the high priest. Caiaphas was the one who had plotted the death of Christ for a long time (John 11:49-52), arguing that no matter who Jesus was nor what He did, it was better for Him to die than for the Romans to be stirred up by His kingly claims and destroy the whole nation. John considered this statement by Caiaphas to be a prophecy of the substitutionary work of Christ in dying for believersJew and Gentile. What took place before Annas we do not know, but Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas (John 18:24).
(Vs. 15) It is said that "all the disciples forsook Him and fled" (Matt. 26:56). Evidently Peter came back and followed "afar off" as Christ was led to the palace of the high priest (Luke 22:54). Another disciple also followed Christ to the house of Caiaphas. Who this was we are not sure, but he knew the high priest and could go directly into the courtyard without being questioned or arrested. It may have been Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, or one of the chief rulers who was said to believe (John 12:42).
(Vs. 16) Peter, being a fisherman and unknown to the high priest or his servants, waited outside the door. This other disciple who went directly into the palace, being well known even to the servants, ordered the servant who kept the door to admit Peter. This is further proof that the other disciple was not one of the twelve but a man of influence, who could not only enter the palace but also gain admittance for a friend.
(Vs. 17) The girl who kept the door thought that she recognized Peter and asked him if he was not one of the Lord's disciples. Peter replied, "I am not His disciple." Our Lord had told Peter that he would deny Him three times (John 13:36-38). This was the first denial.
(Vs. 18) The officers who had arrested Jesus and brought Him to the palace of Caiaphas and the servants of the palace stood around a fire they had built to keep warm. Peter, who had already denied that he was a disciple, Joined these servants and officers at the fireside to warm himself; for it was very cold in the courtyard (Matt. 26:58; Mark 14:54). Who can say what thoughts were going through Peter's mind and heart? He loved the blaster; we know that! He was confident that Jesus was the Christ; we know that! He was an aggressive, impulsive, and curious man who made it his business to get the facts. But he was confused and afraid. Those who are most critical of the Apostle Peter need to consider the circumstances more carefully and consider their own weaknesses in times of trial (Gal. 6:1).
(Vs. 19) When one reads all four accounts of our Lord's experiences after His arrest, it is evident that He had to endure two trialsan ecclesiastical trial before the high priest and a civil trial before Pilate. In this trial before the high priest He was asked about His disciples and His doctrine. They wanted to prove He was a false prophet guilty of blasphemy and violating the law and the traditions of the fathers. While they had no authority in civil matters, they would like to have some charge against Him to send to Pilate and Herod.
(Vs. 20) Our Lord replied, "I spake openly to all men (friends and enemies). I taught in the synagogue and in the temple to all who came there. I said nothing in secret that I did not teach in public." His gospel was the truth of the Scriptures, the truth of God, and meant for every ear. He was not guilty of sedition, blasphemy, nor destroying the law: rather He honored and fulfilled it (Matt. 5:17-18).
(Vs. 21) "Why do you ask me, the accused, about my teaching? Wouldn't it be wiser to ask them that heard me? They know what I taught." Three things are evident here.
1. His doctrine was so pure, so free from sedition, and so true to Scriptures that He was willing to submit His case to those who had heard Him.
2. It was a foolish thing for the high priest to ask an accused man to testify against himself.
3. If one really wants to know what a preacher is preaching, don't ask him; ask those who hear him regularly.
(Vs. 22) His words were so clear and condemning that one of the officers who stood by struck the Lord and accused Him of contempt and disregard for the office of high priest. This event also shows the disorder and disarray in this supposedly holy court. A man on trial is struck by an inferior officer and nothing is made of it. However, this is only the beginning of His great suffering, humiliation, and pain of soul and body endured for our sins.
(Vs. 23) The Lord replied, "If I have spoken lies or evil or contemptibly, then prove it; but if I have spoken truth and wisdom, then why do you smite me?"
(Vs. 24) This verse only lets us know that these things were done before Caiaphas, the high priest, to whom Annas had sent the Lord Jesus.