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120: Trials in the Jewish Court

May 15, 2009

Major Text:

John 18:13-24
Matt. 26:71-72
Mark 14:53-65
Luke 22:59-71
Matt. 27:1

Harmony Texts:

Matt. 26:57, 59-68        Mark 14:53, 55-65       Luke 22:54a, 63-65       John 18:24
Matt. 26:58, 69-75        Mark 14:54, 66-72       Luke 22:54b-62              John 18:15-18, 25-27
Matt. 27:1                          Mark 15:1a                       Luke 22:66-71


  1. Jesus is Questioned John 18:13-24
  2. Jesus is Tried Matt. 26:71-72; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:59-62
  3. Jesus is Condemned Luke 22:66-71; Matt. 27:1


As one can see, there is much scripture for this Lesson. All the Gospel writers have contributed and all have just a little different slant on what was observed. We can assume that the nod goes to John and to Mark [Peter’s gospel] because they had more of an eye witness account because they were “spies” at this trial in the house of the High Priest. The best way to look at this scripture is to lay it all out side by side and then cut and piece it together. That’s what I have tried to do and it explains the multiple gospels being used in the outline.

Jesus has been bound and taken to the house of Annas. Annas was the High Priest from 6-15AD. He had five sons who were High Priests and one son-in law, Caiaphas, who was High Priest from 18-36AD. They most likely lived in a single compound consisting of multiple dwellings. There was also a dungeon in the compound which would be for prisoners accused of being subversive to their religious laws. That dungeon has been excavated in Jerusalem and I have been privileged to see it. Annas was still considered the High Priest because they were appointed for life. But the Romans disposed of and appointed High Priests according to their liking so Caiaphas was acting High Priest. Annas, being the elder, was held in high esteem by the Jews and had a great influence on what was taking place. So when Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, being taken to Annas first was not unusual. Gathering the Sanhedrin together at night and summoning false witnesses was unusual and contrary to Jewish law. Jesus, as a defendant, was not allowed witnesses. This was a classic “kangaroo court”, a court that was in a hurry to condemn and kill Jesus before the Passover began at sundown on Friday. His trial probably took place between midnight and 6AM Friday morning. The sequence of events goes like this:

  1. Jesus is transported to Annas’s house.
  2. Peter denies Christ and Jesus is questioned.
  3. Jesus is transported to Caiaphas’s house.
  4. Peter denies Christ and Jesus is tried.
  5. Jesus is transported to the dungeon.
  6. Peter denies Christ, the cock crows, and Jesus is condemned.
  7. Jesus is transported to Pontius Pilate.

Peter and John have followed the procession at a distance. John evidently knows the High Priest and he is able to gain entrance into the inner courtyard for Peter and himself. They are warming their hands by the fire awaiting the arrival of the Sanhedrin when Peter is confronted by one of the servants who confronts Peter saying he is a disciple. After being questioned and struck by the High Priest, Jesus is brought to Caiaphas where false witnesses are brought in. But they aren’t able to tell the same lie. Jesus does tell them in so many words that He is the Christ which brings cries of blasphemy. Jesus is brought to the dungeon while the Sanhedrin confers over His sentence, and Peter denies Christ two more times. It is morning, the cock crows, the sentence is agreed upon, and they bring Jesus to Pilate to be crucified before sundown.

Consider the contrasts:

I. There are three witnesses.

  1. The false witnesses of the religious leaders
  2. The silent or denying witness of Peter
  3. The true witness of Jesus

II. There are two trials.

  1. Jesus vs. the Sanhedrin
  2. Peter vs. the servants

III. There is one verdict.

  1. Jesus is condemned to die

Personal Contrasts:

Judas…………….listened but didn’t hear.
That’s why he betrayed his Lord.

Peter……………..heard but didn’t listen.
That’s why he denied his Lord.

Jesus…………….listened, heard, and obeyed.
That’s why He died.


  1. When asked to witness, dwell on the Personal Truths and not on the Public Perceptions.
    Jesus did.
  2. In the Christian Life, we are either on trial for our Faith or trembling because we lack it.
    Jesus versus Peter.
  3. It is right for one to cry before accepting the call to lead.
    Peter did.
  4. A weeping heart is always present in an obedient soul.
    Peter did over his sin and Jesus did over our sin.
  5. One must be a Lamb before one can become Lion.
    Jesus did. Peter did.
    [also Abraham, Daniel, Moses, David, Joseph, Josiah, Ezra, Elijah to name a few]

Question………….Over whose fire are you warming your hands? Jesus’ love or Satan’s inferno?

Remember what Jesus said,

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”

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