Before Annas – John 18:14-24
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 17, 2016
Politics for some is just another dirty word. The saying goes never discuss religion or politics with someone else if you want to be on good terms with them. Nothing under the sun is new and we discover that the stench of politics and its intrigue was just as perverse during Jesus’ day as it is today. And we find that so was personal betrayal.
Have you ever had someone come to you and say they are speaking for someone else? I have. Here in John’s gospel we find Jesus being dragged from one person to the next and the first one he is forced to come before was “Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.” Make no mistake, Annas was still the power behind the scenes. Let’s discover what happened and what it means for our lives this morning…
Throughout history and throughout Scripture we discover that things do not change much at the heart of the human condition. Sure we have better ways to do things, including sin. And as we look at what is occurring here in John’s gospel as Jesus is drug before Caiaphas, we realize that…
I. We think sin is sometimes expedient! (Vv. 12-14)
Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.
1. Things are rapidly coming to their conclusion in Jesus’ life. Jesus’ disciples had fallen asleep when asked to stay awake and pray, Judas has scurried off and found his reward and brought his betrayal back to Gethsemane, and now a contingent of temple guards and Jewish officials arrest Jesus: “Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus.” A long day had just ended with betrayal and arrest. Now Jesus is bound and in the hands of his enemies. His followers were scattered. Jesus’ religious trial begins, and when they brought Him first to Annas John gives us information not given in the other gospels: “They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.” We know by history that Annas had been appointed high priest by Quirinius, governor of Syria, in a.d. 6 and remained until he was deposed by Valerius Gratus, procurator of Judea, in a.d. 15. According to the Jewish law the high priestly office was for life, but the Romans did not like the concentration of power in one person so they frequently changed high priests. Annas was succeeded by five of his sons and by his son-in-law Caiaphas. (Bible Knowledge Commentary) Make no mistake; Annas remained the power behind the throne. However, John tells us, “Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.” He said this during a heated discussion as to what to do with Jesus as his followers grew in number. Caiaphas had determined it would be better if Jesus died than for them to lose their position. Caiaphas shows us that we often can justify our sin and in fact, we think sin is sometimes expedient!
EXAMPLE: The Jewish leaders did not want to know the truth, they had seen it for themselves and they could not handle the truth! Kind of like anyone who is caught in sin who knows they are sinning but they want to justify their ungodly behavior. It goes back to who we place first in our lives, God or ourselves. When we place ourselves first it is easy to reason sin’s outcome. And we can even begin to not only justify our sin; we can come up with some pretty good excuses as to why it is okay for us to do so! After all, don’t the ends justify the means? We think sin is sometimes expedient!
Like dominoes that are put into a line, when one falls they all begin to topple. One after another each sin begins to topple another one and each one often become worse than the previous one. Like Pharaoh before Moses or Saul before David our hearts begin to stiffen with each sin committed and here we learn that…
II. Sin’s deceitfulness hardens our hearts! (Vv. 15-18)
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, but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in. “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” 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.
1. After they run away from Gethsemane, two of the disciples, Peter and more than likely John, had come back and “were following Jesus” and the others. Interestingly we discover that “Because this disciple (John) was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, but Peter had to wait outside at the door.” John must have had family members or someone he knew who was a member of the Sanhedrin because as is explained John knew the high priest. This could also explain why John ran away at first; he may not have wanted to be discovered and have his family find out. John explains his influence during this crisis, “The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the girl on duty there and brought Peter in.” The girl on duty was more than likely a servant who was in charge of doorway. She would wash feet, announce who was coming in, and she would know intimately who she should let in or not. Interestingly the one who said he would die for and follow Jesus anywhere is now lurking in the background shadows watching as his master is falsely accused before an illegal court at night. Peter’s fears of being found out come to fruition when the girl at the doorway rhetorically asks, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” She had a good idea Peter was. Peter’s reply, “I am not!” is as cold in its personal betrayal as the night air. Matthew Henry writes that “It is a devilish rule to cover a sin with a sin.” We can be “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness”. (Hebrews 3:13) Sadly, we learn, “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.” While his master is being abused, Peter is denying him by their fire. Sin’s deceitfulness hardens our hearts!
EXAMPLE: Peter had tried to defend Jesus, but in doing so had almost brought down on all the disciples their deaths. Only Jesus’ calm certainty and miraculous display had saved them. Then, like the others, Peter had fled. John had found him and now they were near Jesus again. Only now he hides by the fire’s warmth as Jesus is coldly tried. In one swift denial in order to protect himself Peter begins the process of the one sin following after another until he hears the crowing of a rooster. Like a junkie under the influence of drugs or an alcoholic needing one more drink, Peter is caught up in his sin. Sin’s deceitfulness hardens our hearts!
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine! Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Like a candle in the darkness or a lighthouse during a storm, light pierces the blackest darkness. That is also how it is with sin. No matter how you try to hide it or cover it up…
III. The truth always shines in the darkness of sin! (Vv. 19-24)
Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. “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.” 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. “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.
1. Meanwhile while Peter is trying not to draw attention, “the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching.” Jesus is not afraid to speak the truth no matter what the circumstances. While we may be quick like Peter to shift our loyalties, Jesus remains steadfast. “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.” Whether on open hillsides, the temple courtyards, or in the synagogues of the region, Jesus taught openly. They had their spies there, they knew. And Jesus knew they knew it to be true. He was innocent unless proven guilty. Therefore they should produce witnesses if they had something substantial against Him. Many who are confronted with the truth of their own deception respond in anger, so “When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck him in the face.” The preliminary hearing had several illegalities and this was one of them. It was improper to try to induce self-incrimination and it was wrong to hit the person being questioned. He now tries to justify his cruelty by demanding, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” It is easier to evade the truth or to silence the one who speaks the truth than to admit the truth. Kind of like those today who try to silence Christians who take a stand against gay marriage or the destructive nature of Islam. “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” Do they respond? No, instead, “Annas sent him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest.” Jesus exposed their hypocrisy as he does to anyone who tries to justify their sin. Yet often, our response is to try and send Jesus away. The truth always shines in the darkness of sin!
EXAMPLE: One can stand before a Congress or a Sanhedrin and try to justify their actions to a nation or people, but the truth has a way of coming through. Just because you think something is true or you desperately want it to be true does not make it the truth, no matter what rainbow color you paint it or how you try to prop it up with political correctness. You can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig. The truth always shines in the darkness of sin!
We think sin is sometimes expedient! Sin’s deceitfulness hardens our hearts! The truth always shines in the darkness of sin!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.