Summary: Jesus on Trial – John chapter 18 verses 19-24 & 28-40 – sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


(A). Jesus before Annas:

• Two High Priests: Annas & Caiaphas

(B). Jesus before Pilate:

• Step 1: Accusation (vs 18-32):

• Step2: Interrogation (vs 33-35):

• Step 3: Defense (vs 36-38a)

• Step 4: Verdict (vs 38b)



• One day, a youngster was really excited about getting to go fish with his dad.

• The 7-year-old had lots of questions.

• “Dad,” he asked, “what makes this boat float?”

• The father replied, “Son, I don’t rightly know.”

• A few moments later the youngster asked,

• “Dad, how can fish breathe below the water?”

• The father replied, “Son, I don’t rightly know.”

• After a few minutes of silence the youngster had another question,

• “Dad, why is the sky blue?”

• The father again replied, “Son, I don’t rightly know.”

• Another few minutes passed in silence when the youngster asked,

• “Dad, does it bother you that I’m always asking questions?”

• His father thought for a moment and said,

• “No, son, it doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I’m glad you ask questions.

• How else will you learn anything if you don’t ask

• TRANSITION: From the trivial to the important;

• In our passage this morning a number of questions are asked.

• I make it nine questions in our reading;

• (Chapter 18 verse 21, 22, 23, 29, 33, 35, 37, 38 & 39)

• And we will look at them in a moment.


• Jesus will be given two trials, one Jewish, one Roman.

• The high priests, Annas and Caiaphas would lead the Jewish trials,

• And Pontius Pilate will lead the Roman trial.

(A). Jesus before Annas:

First there are 3 questions at this initial Jewish trial:

• Chapter 18 verse 21: Jesus: ‘Why question me?’

• Chapter 18 verse 22: One of the officials: ‘Is this the way you answer the high priest?’

• Chapter 18 verse 23 Jesus: ‘If I said something wrong,’ Jesus replied, ‘testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?’


• Regarding the Jewish trial of Jesus;

• The Bible states that at the time in Jewish history,

• There were actually two high priests, Annas and Caiaphas.

• i.e. Luke chapter 3 verses 1-3:

• "...while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests".

• Strictly speaking, there could be only one high priest,

• He held that office until he died and then his successor took up the role.

• But the Romans (Roman procurator, Valerio’s Gratus);

• Complicated things by removing Annas from his position as High Priest;

• And replacing him with Caiaphas

• Since Annas hadn't died... he was technically still high priest, according to the Law.

• And the Jewish people recognized him in this office.

• But, Caiaphas had been appointed by the Romans as high priest.

• So, although Caiaphas carried out his role as official high priest,

• Annas retained the authority of high priest as well.

• So that is why there were high priests at the same time.

• So Annas was the legitimate high priest by the great majority of Jews.

• But Caiaphas held the title and was backed by the Roman authorities.

(B). Jesus before Pilate:

Pilate asks Jesus six questions:

• Chapter 18 verse 29: ‘What charges are you bringing against this man?’

• Chapter 18 verse 33: ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’

• Chapter 18 verse 35 ‘Am I a Jew?’ Pilate replied.

• Chapter 18 verse 37 ‘You are a king, then!’ said Pilate.

• Chapter 18 verse 38 ‘What is truth?’ retorted Pilate.

• Chapter 18 verse 39 ‘Do you want me to release “the king of the Jews”?’

Now Pilate asked some good questions:

• His problem was he did not act upon the answers he was given,

• And so Pontius Pilate’s brief appearance in Scripture is full of tragedy.

• Because he made at least three mistakes.


• i.e. He ignored his conscience,

• Instead of being true to his convictions,

• He took the easy option and followed the crowd.


• i.e. He disregarded the good advice of his wife,

• Who warned him not to have anything to do with ‘that innocent man’.

• (Matthew chapter 27 verse 19).


• i.e. He chose political expediency over public rectitude,

• i.e. He failed to recognize the truth even when Truth was standing right in front of him.

Note: I want to concentrate on Jesus and Pilate

• Pilate asked some good questions:

• He did not get the answers he wanted;

• And he did not have the moral courage to follow his convictions,

• And sadly he chose what was convenient over what was right.

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