Immediately after Jesus’ arrest, our Lord was bound and taken to Annas, before whom His trial would begin (John 18:12–13). As we will see, Jesus was in control throughout the proceedings, as what He had earlier predicted came to pass during the trial.
First, we must deal with the identity of the high priest. Formally, Caiaphas was the high priest during the year of Jesus’ trial (v. 13), but verses 19 and 24 identify Annas as the high priest who was the first to question Jesus after His arrest. Although Caiaphas was the high priest recognized by the Romans, it seems that Annas was still regarded by the Jews as the legitimate holder of the sacred office. The Romans had deposed Annas from the priesthood in AD 15, about fifteen years before Jesus’ trial. But according to Jewish custom, the high priest was high priest for life, so the Jews would have continued to see Annas as the legitimate office holder. In fact, Annas was likely the real power behind the priestly hierarchy at this time. History tells us that five of his sons, plus his son-in-law Caiaphas, served as high priest during the first century. Annas had been high priest before the Romans intervened, and he was the patriarch of the priestly family, so he would have been shown deference. The soldiers brought Jesus to Annas first, likely for an informal hearing before He was taken to the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews.
Following Jesus, Peter and “another disciple” came to the courtyard of the high priest—probably the courtyard of Annas’ home. The unnamed disciple was likely John, the son of Zebedee and author of the gospel of John. John gained admission to the courtyard immediately because he was known to the high priest (v. 15), probably because he was from a family with some wealth. (John’s family employed some hired servants; see Mark 1:19–20.) The servant girl guarding the door to the courtyard let Peter in after John spoke with her, presumably to secure Peter’s admission (John 18:16). But if Peter hoped to hide among the crowd, he would not succeed. The girl called him out, eliciting the first of Peter’s three denials of Jesus (vv. 17–18; see vv. 25–27).
Peter’s denial was a grave sin, but we can find encouragement in it. Jesus had predicted that Peter would deny Him (13:36–38), and Peter did just that. Jesus foresaw what would happen; nothing took Him by surprise. Indeed, nothing that happens to us can truly surprise Him. He knows the future—indeed, He is the first and the last (Rev. 22:13)—and is control of everything that comes our way.