Above the Law


In the next few verses, we begin the walk through the dark, inner sanctums of Jewish leadership as they search high and low for a plausible reason to convict Jesus of a crime worthy of death. Have you ever heard of government officials looking for a crime worthy of the death penalty before they have even an inkling of the crime? No. In this instance, however, the Jewish leaders arrested Christ without cause. Their goal was to bring Jesus in for questioning to maybe discover if a wrong had been committed so that they could charge him for it, then sentence him to death. The Jewish leaders wanted death, not truth. They wanted a conviction, not understanding. They wanted control, not trust. They wanted power, not reconciliation.   

  • Have you ever been wrongly accused of doing or saying something of which you were innocent? How did you respond?


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.

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

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.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


(Today’s questions focus on verses 12-14 and 19-24. Verses 15-18 will be covered in our next study.)

  1. Who was Annas? Why was it important to bring Jesus to him?
  2. When Annas (the unofficial high priest) questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching, Jesus only answered which question?
  3. What did Jesus tacitly imply in his answer?
  4. After being struck by the officer, how did Jesus respond? What was Jesus asking for in that response?
  5. How do you respond when you are wrongly accused of something?


During this illegal inquisition, Jesus spoke truth, refused to speak in anger, and gracefully implied that what was happening was illegal. Jesus asserted that he always taught openly and never promoted secret insurrection. His message was never subversive, never designed to incite insurrection, and never disloyal. In his arrest and questioning, Jesus spoke truthfully and respectfully, politely encouraging the officials to seek the testimony of witnesses before accusing him; instead, they led him as a “lamb to the slaughter.” Jesus preached “turn the other cheek,” then showed us what that looks like in this very broken world.

•     Lord, help me to live free of defensiveness, knowing with confidence that you have saved me by your death and nothing in this world can separate me from that love.