So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up. First they took him to Annas, since he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.”
John 18:12-14 (NLT)
Peter had a sword in his hand, but our Lord had a cup in His hand. Peter was resisting God’s will but the Saviour was accepting God’s will. Earlier, Jesus had prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Matt. 26:39).
The cup represented the suffering He would endure and the separation from the Father that He would experience on the cross. He prayed this prayer three times, evidence that His whole being was sensitive to the price He would pay for our salvation. His holy soul must have been stirred to the depths when He contemplated being made sin!
The drinking of a cup is often used in Scripture to illustrate experiencing suffering and sorrow. When Babylon captured Jerusalem, the city had “drunk the cup of terror” (Isa. 51:17). Jeremiah pictured God’s wrath against the nations as the pouring out of a cup (Jer. 25:15-28). There is also a cup of consolation (Jer. 16:7) and the overflowing cup of joy (Ps. 23:5).
Jesus had compared His own sufferings to the drinking of a cup and the experiencing of a baptism (Matt. 20:22-23). When He instituted the supper, He compared the cup to His blood, shed for the remission of sins (Matt. 26:27-28).
The image was a familiar one to His disciples, and it is not an unfamiliar image today. To “drink the cup” means to go through with a difficult experience: and “not my cup of tea” means saying no to a certain course of action. The fact that some trophies are designed like cups suggests that winners have been through demanding experiences and had to “swallow a lot.”
Jesus was able to accept the cup because it was mixed by the Father and given to Him from the Father’s hand. He did not resist the Father’s will, because He came to do the Father’s will and finish the work the Father gave Him to do. “I take joy in doing your will, my God, for your instructions are written on my heart.“ (Ps. 40:8). Since the Father had mixed and measured the contents of the cup, Jesus knew He had nothing to fear.
This is a good lesson to us:
- We need never fear the cups that the Father hands to us. To begin with, our Saviour has already drunk the cup before us, and we are only following in His steps.
- We need never fear what is in the cup because the Father has prepared it for us in love.If we ask for bread, He will never give us a stone; and the cup He prepares will never contain anything that will harm us. We may suffer pain and heartbreak, but He will eventually transform that suffering into glory.
Jesus deliberately gave Himself to His enemies. They bound Him and led Him to the house of Annas, which was not too far away. Annas had served as high priest until the Romans deposed him; now his son-in-law Caiaphas was the high priest.
God had ordained that one man should serve as high priest for a lifetime, so it is easy to see that the Jewish religious establishment was in sad condition. It is generally believed that the high priest’s family was in charge of the temple “business,” and the fact that Jesus twice cleansed the temple must have aroused their anger against Him.
The “trial” before Annas was more like an informal hearing. It was illegal and it was brutal. Imagine a guard being allowed to strike a prisoner! Imagine a man not holding an office interrogating a prisoner!
Annas, of course, was looking for some kind of evidence on which to base an accusation that would lead to a verdict of capital punishment.
What doctrine was Jesus teaching?
Was it subversive?
Jesus told him to ask the people who listened to Him, because He had said nothing secretly. In fact, Annas himself could have come and listened!
What about our Lord’s disciples?
Were they organized to overthrow the government?
Did not one of them use his sword in the Garden?
Jesus was careful to say nothing about His disciples. Think of it: while Peter was in the courtyard denying his Lord, Jesus was on trial protecting Peter!
Jewish law demanded that witnesses be called before a prisoner was questioned. Annas defied this law, and eventually the council hired false witnesses. Jesus knew His rights (“If I said anything wrong, you must prove it”—John 18:23), but He did not insist on them. He is an example to us when we suffer wrongfully (1 Peter 2:19-25; 4:12-19).