John 18 - 15-27 - Cheap Equivocation and Costly Grace - Part 2

Last week we looked at Peter’s three denials – his “trial”.
·  We noted that it wasn’t Jesus whom Peter denied, but being Jesus’ disciple.
·  We saw that Beasley-Murray suggested that this distinction was crucial and John’s intent.
·  And so to that end, we called Peter’s rejection of His association with Jesus “cheap equivocation”.
·  More on that at the end of today’s lesson.

We also briefly went through the nature of Jesus’ trial.
·  His trial had both a Jewish phase and a Roman phase.

The Jewish phase contained the following scenes (DJG):
·  (1) “Initial examination by Annas in John” (John 18:12-14; 19-24)
o   Our text today.
·  (2) “A nighttime trial before Caiaphas in Matthew and Mark” (Matt. 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:54)
·  (3) “A Sanhedrin trial at dawn in Luke” (Matt. 27:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71)

The Roman phase contained the following scenes:
·  (1) Standing before Pilate (Matt. 27:2, 11–14; Mark 15:1–5; Luke 23:1–5; John 18:28–38)
·  (2) Standing before Herod (Luke 23:6–12)
·  (3) And then another standing before Pilate (Matt. 27:15–26; Mark 15:6–15; Luke 23:13–25; John 18:39–19:16)

This week we deal with Jesus’ “trial” before Annas.
·  While Peter was in the courtyard denying his association with Jesus, Jesus was being interrogated by Annas.
·  We turn to that now.


Jesus’ Trial before Annas – Scene 1:
John 18:12–14 (ESV) — 12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, bound, and led to Annas.
·  It is assumed by many that Annas was, at this time, located in the high priest’s palace.
·  Some even suggest he was living there.
o   A “feasible conjecture is that Annas and Caiaphas were in wings of the same residence somewhere in the upper city” – DJG.
·  Whatever the case, the thought is that this was a prearranged and deliberate audience with Annas, “the father-in-law of Caiaphas” orchestrated by Annas (vs. 13).
o   “…probably the matter was decided in advance…” – D.A. Carson.

John then also interjects a commentary about Caiaphas.
·  He reminds us that it was Caiaphas who said “one man should die for the people” (vs. 14).
·  John 11:50 (ESV) — 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.
·  Caiaphas’ fear was that Jesus’ antics might arouse the people to such an extent that the Romans might see fit to bring down their might upon the status quo.
·  Clearly, Caiaphas did not want to jeopardize the status quo.
·  John MacArthur tells us that Caiaphas served as high priest from 18-36 A.D. – 18 years.
·  Holding office this long may reveal, he says, what “utterly ruthless” lengths Caiaphas might go to stay in power.

Jesus’ Trial before Anna – Scene 2:
John 18:19–24 (ESV) — 19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Before we get into this text we need to get into some background on Annas.
·  Annas had been high priest from A.D. 6-15.
·  From A.D. 17-41 he had 5 sons, 1 grandson and a son-in-law (Caiaphas) serve as high priest.
·  Because his family “had a monopoly of the high-priestly office” he “held a patriarchal position in the high-priestly circles” – Beasley-Murray.
o   In other words, he was the patriarch of the high priests.
·  Therefore he “continued to hold enormous influence” – D.A. Carson.
·  In fact, he “was to some extent the power behind Caiaphas” – D.A. Carson.
·  John MacArthur suggests Annas was “the most powerful figure in Jewish hierarchy”.

Annas’ power and influence are revealed in Scripture and explain what appears to be a mistake.
·  Both in our text, and in Luke-Acts, Annas is called the high priest even though Caiaphas is the high priest.
·  This is also because, like our presidents, he retained the title after he left office – John MacArthur.
·  In verse 19, John calls Annas the high priest even though he also rightly states in verse 24 that Caiaphas is currently serving as the high priest.
·  Luke does the same in Luke-Acts.
·  Luke 3:2 (ESV) — 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness.
·  Acts 4:5–6 (ESV) — 5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.

Because of his patriarchal status, power and influence, it is suggested that Annas exerted his power and arranged to see Jesus first.
·  The speculation is that Annas, in questioning Jesus, was trying to see the best way to have Him killed.

In The Murder of Jesus, John MacArthur puts it as follows:
·  “The plan was for Annas to listen to Jesus give an account of His teaching, and then Annas would decide what kind of charge to file. He had several options at his disposal. He could charge Jesus with blasphemy, a crime punishable by death under Jewish law. Since Jesus had said many things in His public ministry that the Jewish leaders deemed blasphemous, that seemed the most likely charge. But the Romans, who must authorize and carry out all executions, rarely approved of the death penalty for blasphemy. For that reason Annas might also look for a way to charge Jesus with sedition or insurrection. Understandably, Rome was not inclined to be merciful to anti-Roman agitators.”

There is one other probable reason Annas arranged to see Jesus first.
·  Annas “received a share of the proceeds from the sale of sacrificial animals” used for temple sacrifice by the Jews – John MacArthur.
·  We are told that Annas was so notorious for his usage of the temple to make money that “the outer courts of the temple…became known as the Bazaar of Annas” – John MacArthur.
·  And as we all know, it was Jesus that disrupted Annas’ money making machine.
·  William Barclay suggests that Annas’ meeting with Jesus was payback time.

It is in this context that John tells us Annas questions Jesus on “his disciples and his teaching” (vs. 19).
·  Which, as we saw, may have been just a fishing expedition for Annas.
·  Or an attempt to get Jesus to incriminate Himself.
·  And perhaps to find out if His followers were high enough in number to pose a problem – D.A. Carson.

Jesus’ answer seems to be twofold.
·  (1) The things you are asking about are well known.
o   I have spoken openly to the world” (vs. 20).
o   I didn’t hide my teaching from the public.
·  (2) So, “why do you ask me?” (vs. 21).
o   BTW – It was against Jewish law to have someone incriminate themselves.
o   If you think I have done something wrong, call witnesses.
o   Ask those who have heard me” (vs. 21).
o   They know what I said” (vs. 21).

Annas was subverting the legal system and Jesus’ answer essentially called Annas out on this issue.
·  We then see that because of that, “the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand” (vs. 22).
·  Jesus finally replied to Annas’ witch hunt with “impeccable logic” – MacArthur.
·  If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” (vs. 23).
·  “If He was wrong about the proper legal procedure, they should have corrected Him instead of hitting Him [it was illegal to hit a prisoner]. But if (as He did) the Lord spoke accurately, what justifiable reason was there for striking Him?” – John MacArthur.

So getting nowhere, but perhaps establishing in his mind the best way to have Jesus killed, Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas.
·  It would be Caiaphas as the high priest that would begin to formalize the path to Jesus’ death.


We saw that Jesus said He taught and spoke “openly” throughout His ministry (vs. 20).
·  John and Luke also tell us about Jesus’ out in the open ministry.
·  John 7:26 (ESV) — 26 And here he is [at the temple], speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ?
·  Acts 26:26 (ESV) — 26 For the king knows about these things [Gospel and resurrection], and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.

In order to get into the contrast between Jesus “costly grace” and Peter’s “cheap equivocation” we need to tease this out a bit.
·  Openly” carries with it the idea of courageous public speaking and actions – BDAG.
·  “He works publicly, i.e, in the synagogues and temple, not in secret” – TDNT.
·  Jesus was not hiding his teaching about the Kingdom of God.
·  Nor was He hiding His relationship to it.

A comparison between Jesus’ ministry and John the Baptist’s ministry demonstrates this as well.
·  “John came ‘neither eating nor drinking’” – “Jesus came ‘eating and drinking’ and is accused of being a ‘glutton and a drunkard’” – Michael Bird.
·  “John is ascetic” – “Jesus engages in open table-fellowship” – Michael Bird.

So the “openness” of Christ was a willingness to put Himself out there for His ministry and in obedience to the Father.
·  Understanding the “openness” of Christ, we can now properly understand the relationship between Jesus’ “costly grace” and Peter’s “cheap equivocation”.


Peter’s “cheap equivocation” – self-serving:
Last week we got into Peter’s “cheap equivocation”.
·  His “equivocation” was opting to hedge his bets against his association with Jesus and deny it.
·  The “cheap” was because there was very little at stake for him if he did own up to his discipleship.
·  Or to put it another way, he gained very little (thus the “cheap”) by denying he was a disciple of Jesus.
·  Perhaps he gained a low profile so that he could stay up with Jesus without being bothered.
·  But again, this gain just serves to highlight Peter’s “cheap equivocation” – nothing was at stake!
·  And whatever else his “cheap equivocation” was, self-serving would be at the top of the list.

Jesus “costly grace” – selfless:
By contrast, we just saw Jesus “openly” declared His ministry and the Kingdom of God without regard for the cost to Himself.
·  And we know well that the free grace He made available to us through this “openness” was indeed costly.
·  Thus Jesus chose “costly grace” over “cheap equivocation”.
·  And whatever else Jesus’ “costly grace” was, selfless would be at the top of the list.

“Cheap equivocation” is self-serving – “costly grace” is selfless.

One need only look at the actions of each in our text to see this contrast.
·  Peter follows Jesus to the courtyard – possibly self-serving (“I have spent 3 years with this guy – now what”).
·  Peter denies his association with Jesus to gain entry – self-serving.
·  Peter warms himself – self-serving.
·  Peter disowns his associations with Jesus two more times – self-serving.
·  Peter even denied sticking up for Jesus – self-serving.
·  Jesus, falsely arrested, does not resist – selfless.
·  Jesus, unjustly bound and struck, speaks openly – selfless
·  Jesus owns up to His associations with His ministry – selfless
·  Jesus appeals to witnesses to even testify to His openness in His ministry – selfless
·  Peter’s actions point away from Jesus – Jesus’ actions point to His Father ordained ministry

So what was Peter’s problem?

Peter’s Problem:
·  Peter had not yet learned that, “The grace of God, mediated through Jesus, is free but not cheap” – Kenneth Bailey.
·  Or, as he puts another way, “Grace is costly for the one who offers it (Jesus) and the one who receives it (us)” – Kenneth Bailey.
o   Scripturally found in texts such as “the cost of discipleship” in Luke 14:25-33.
·  Jesus’ own ministry repeatedly demonstrated this principle.
·  The narrative of Jesus and Zacchaeus in Luke 19 demonstrates this beautifully.

Here is how – from Jesus Through Middle-Eastern Eyes – Kenneth Bailey:
·  Jesus enters Jericho.
·  Zacchaeus, the town tax collector, wants to see Jesus but he is too short and the crowd won’t accommodate him.
·  After all he is rich, and is rich because he takes their money – they simply don’t like him.
·  Zacchaeus climbs a tree to remedy his problem.
·  It is here something remarkable happens.

Jesus doesn’t marginalize Zacchaeus like the crowd.
·  He calls out Zacchaeus and invites Himself to Zacchaeus’ house for the night.
·  By doing this, Jesus deliberately shifted “the town’s hostility away from Zacchaeus to Himself” – Kenneth Bailey.
·  The crowd said, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner” (Luke 19:7).
·  Here is the problem.
·  “If Jesus enters Zacchaeus' house, sits on his chairs and sleeps in his guest bed, he will emerge the following morning defiled and in need of ceremonial cleansing. Is this the way a messiah should behave on the eve of Passover?” – Kenneth Bailey.
·  Jesus didn’t equivocate on his grace to Zacchaeus – He was all in.

What does this cost Jesus?
·  His “cred” in the eyes of others.
·  His pride.
·  All the things we refuse to give up on a daily basis.
·  Of course, this all pales in comparison to the cost of the cross.
·  But it is the little things (the cheap things) that we are faced with day after day.
·  And far too often we equivocate even on the cheap things, like Peter.

And the result of this “costly grace” to Zacchaeus is also quickly realized.
·  He finds He is compelled to repay what he has stolen.
·  And if I have defrauded anyone anything, I restore it fourfold” – Luke 19:8).

John and Luke speak to this idea that Jesus’ grace is not cheap for us as follows:
·   “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)
·   “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:33)

Peter’s Solution:
It seems that through the Holy Spirit, Peter learned that grace is indeed free but not cheap.
·  As a disciple to Jesus, there is no room for:
o   Equivocation
o   Fence-Straddling
o   Compartmentalizing
o   Self-Serving behavior
·  Following Christ ain’t cheap.

But amen that the Holy Spirit displaced Peter’s instinct for selfishness with the freedom of self-forgetfulness and selflessness!
·  And Peter’s “cheap equivocation” was replaced with jail, persecution and eventually the loss of his own life.