Jesus’ Trial Before the Priests John 18:12-27 [sermon draft]

Jesus’ Trial Before the Priests John 18:12-27

Into to Us: The greatest myth of the modern world is the power and resilience of the human spirit. They say, “Look inside yourself” and “find that power within.”

A classic illustration of this is Rocky. Rocky is story about a boxer, but also the power and resilience of the human spirit. The movie inspires you to take on the world class opponent, even though you’re the underdog. He fights toe to toe with the world champion for the full 12 rounds. How amazing! Who doesn’t get goose-bumps when that final bell rings?

The problem is this profound “Human power within” is a myth: I say this mostly because it never happens in real life! Stallone has even said he wrote Rocky to be a dramatization of the passion of Christ emulated by a man, but not the power of the human Spirit.

A more real way to look at man is how Cage the Elephant does:

I was walking down the street
When out the corner of my eye,
I saw a pretty little thing approaching me.
She said I never seen a man,
Who looks so all alone,
Oh, could you use a little company?
If you could pay the right price,
Your evening will be nice,
And you can go and send me on my way,
I said you’re such a sweet young thing,
Why’d you do this to yourself?
She looked at me and this is what she said.

Oh, there ain’t no rest for the wicked,
Money don’t grow on trees,
I got bills to pay,
I got mouths to feed,
There ain’t nothing in this world for free.
Now I can’t slow down,
I can’t hold back
Though you know I wish I could,
Oh no there ain’t no rest for the wicked,
Until we close our eyes for good.

Not even 15 minutes later,
I’m still walking down the street,
When I saw the shadow of a man creep out of sight,
And then he swept up from behind,
He put a gun up to my head,
He made it clear he wasn’t looking for a fight,
He said give me all you’ve got,
I want your money not your life,
If you try to make a move I won’t think twice,
I told him you can have my cash,
But first you know I’ve got to ask,
What made you want to live this kind of life?

He said there ain’t no rest for the wicked,
Money don’t grow on trees,
I got bills to pay
I got a mouth to feed
Ain’t nothing in this world for free
Now I can’t slow down,
I can’t hold back
Though you know I wish I could
No there ain’t no rest for the wicked,
Until we close our eyes for good.

Well now a couple hours passed,
And I was sitting in my house,
The day was winding down and coming to an end,
And so I turned on the TV,
And flipped it over to the news,
And what I saw I almost couldn’t comprehend,
I saw a preacher man in cuffs
He’d been taking money from the church,
He’d stuffed his bank account with righteous dollar bills
But even still I can’t say much
Because I know we’re all the same,
Oh yes we all seek out to satisfy those thrills.

You know there ain’t no rest for the wicked,
Money don’t grow on trees,
We got bills to pay
We got mouths to feed
There ain’t nothing in this world for free.
Now we can’t slow down,
We can’t hold back
Though you know we wish we could.
You know there ain’t no rest for the wicked,
Until we close our eyes for good.1

My point is that you distrust the so called “Powers” of the human spirit!

Faith in yourself, your own resilience is an obstacle in pure faith in Jesus! Is your faith weak? Mixed faith and doubt? Do you mix Jesus and yourself!  You may call upon Jesus in public, but in your heart of hearts distrust him because he is not as real to you as your own moral fiber, resilience, and powers within! In doing so you are in grave danger of rejecting Jesus and embracing a false hope.

Today most believe in Salvation by self-improvement, or some mixture of Jesus and self-improvement! Life skill are taught in the churches, not conviction of sinners! Let me put this in perspective. If we give ourselves credit for salvation, won’t we miss our need for Jesus? If you’re distracted by looking within, how can you look out toward the cross?

The basic human problem is this, we distrust Jesus because we give ourselves too much credit. We don’t realize who we are. We reject the clear truth that we are sinners. So, logiclally speaking, trusting in yourself leads to inevitable failure!

Let me ask you this question: Where is your trust? Is it in yourself or Jesus?

The human inability is the topic of today’s passage. Calvin called this passage, “A demonstration of the power of man!” (vol 18 p.199). He was speaking with his tongue in cheek! The priests, soldiers, and Peter are examples of failure of the power of man! Their righteousness, and resilience fail, but Jesus prevails! They all trusted themselves in one way or another! Again the point of the passage is to break down trust in all but Jesus, alone!

1)The Unrighteous Priests High Priests

12-14, During this era the Priesthoodwas heavily political. The roman governer appointed them. For example, Vitellius soon replaced Caiaphas with someone else- Jonathan, the grandson of Annas. They later gathered an Army together against the Romans and the Zealots. They were not interested in Jesus or his salvation, they wanted the Romans gone! According to Jesus, the Priests “Lord[ed] it over” the people by their religious office. That is, they used salvation as political tool! Don’t follow Jesus, or excommunicated.

In 13, Emphasis on “High” priest! Annas = Father in law, thus “The high Priest’s High Priest!” He was mastermind behind the whole of Jesus’ death, a coup against the Romans, was eventually put to death by the Romans

In 14, repeats Caiaphas’ prophecy from 11:49-50. The bottom line is they know he is real but don’t need him! Why don’t they need Jesus? In 9:28 they said,  “We follow Moses!” “i.e. the laws give life! The Power of the human spirit!” We trust our own righteousness!

Point: They Trust in their righteousness, so they don’t need Jesus! Other’s trusted in Annas and Caiaphas too! They thought these guys are really awesome! They felt they were on God’s side!

Imagine someone dies and goes to stand before the Lord for judgment, and the individual says, “Lord, I was on your side in society in the moral fight against social liberalism. I always spoke up about the truth. I always talked about it to young people, and did my best to live a consistent life. I even began coalitions to end drug abuse in our city. I was on your side the whole time I lived on earth.” God would say, “And how do you plead?”- “Plead?” You’d say. “Yes plead!” says the Lord, “This is not a performance review, you are on trial for the sins of Adam and the sins you committed in your life. No good works outweighs it, and all of your good works were done out o self righteousness, self reliance, and self esteem. Those works are all rubbish in light of your sins!”

Does religious association always mean true conversion?! Isn’t true salvation is only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone?! Aren’t we so able to use any religious action to puff up our sense of pride? For example, in v. 28, they were worried about Passover prep! How hypocritical! Got to get ready for church! Big day tomorrow! But they kill the Lord of Glory! They were unrighteous, but they trusted in their own righteousness!

You are never beyond the Gospel! No one, not matter what office you hold in the church, no matter who you are! You may say, “Don’t you know who I am? I am the High Priests’ High Priest!”  Yes! You’re a sinner! And you need Jesus!


Why do we need Jesus? notice in19, “Your teaching and disciples… about that?” They bring no real charge! It sort of sputters out! They sent an angry mob in the dead of night and did not even have a proper charge! Matt, Mark, Luke record the “False Witnesses” fake charges, silly misquotations they had to trump up.

In verse 30, the sputter again,  “O, yeah, we have a charge… but can you crucify him first and then we will get back to you about what it is by Monday…”

20, Jesus smells blood in the water and strikes! He Interrogates–  and so takes the judgment seat. Questions were the role of the Judge. For example, in Genesis 3, “Did you eat of the TOTKOGE?” Forces a confession, used by Nebuchadnezzar with the Magi!

In verses 21-24, They bring no charge! A Soldier punched Jesus for “insolence,” but he is still innocent.  If Jesus is innocent, why did he die?

2) Jesus is the Innocent High Priest!

Jesus is trustworthy! Notice the the calm strength of Jesus, so much stronger to stand still than to fight. Heb 9:11-15 tells us he is the High Priest who offered himself up as a sacrifice for our sins! Jesus got everlasting salvation for you who believe in Him!

Aren’t we just sinners saved by mighty Jesus? You need Jesus too! Never think, “Well, all these other people need Jesus, but I have matured to where I don’t need him anymore.” Do we ever outgrow the Gospel? Outgrow needing grace? Stand on our own two feet? No! Only when we recognize that we are sinners saved by grace, do we have it correct!

Next Time you’re tempted to trust in the resilience of the Human Spirit, think about the cross! In the cross, God says, “You feeble power-within is so corrupt that If I don’t act you are all doomed!”

Segue: Where else do we see examples of self trust? If Rocky exemplifies the resilience of the Human Spirit, so does Simon Peter. Peter ( cephas/petros ) translates, “Rock.” Jesus nicknamed him Rocky! Peter “The Rock” ben Jonah (Matthew 16:16f). He was a rugged fisherman, a tough guy, a convicted leader, an intense passionate personality. He works outside. He’s  sunburnt. He’s rough and tough from his life as commercial fisherman. He drops “F-bombs” in the High Priest’s court and does not bat an eye.

After some time maybe the nickname got to Peter’s head. Peter thought, “I am the Rock…”

In v 15-18, Rocky is afraid of a little girl! What a coward!Peter drops Jesus at the nearest resistance! Why? he was not trustworthy even for Peter to trust in! Look at verses 25-27,cf, Luke 22:60-61 says  Jesus looked across the room, their eyes met, and Jesus crushed the Rock! He went out and “wept bitterly.”

3) “The Rock” Crumbled Because He Trusted Himself!

Jesus’ point was to crush Peter’s self-reliance! We are not trustworthy, but Jesus is! Peter did not even trust himself enough to tell a little girl!

Where is your trust? In your righteousness? In your resilient spirit? This passage’s point is to break down all trust in the “resilience of the human Spirit!” When did Jesus call Peter “Rocky?” When he confessed, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God” (Mat 16:16ff), when he was aware of his great need for Jesus, his inadequacy, his distrust in the human spirit! Real courage for trial is from trusting the trustworthy one, Jesus! Trust Jesus b/c man’s “resilient-spirit” will always fail! But Jesus will always prevail!