The high priest asked about the disciples (v.19) either so he could arrest them too, or to embarrass the Lord to ack-nowledge they had forsaken Him. He asked about His doctrine (v.19) even though we know he knew it, for he’d try to kill Him many times for it. He was just gathering evi-dence against Him, as the leaders did earlier (Lu.11:53,54). This means after 3 years of listening to Him, now that they had Him on trial—they had nothing to charge Him with!
He may have asked about the disciples knowing they’d be easier to trip up in their words, which they would have been till the Spirit gave them words to speak at Pentecost (Luke 12:11,12; 21:15 cf. Acts 6:5-10). But as we rightly divide the Word, we know the Spirit speaks today only through His Word, so we must know it to let Him speak through us.
When asked about His doctrine, the Lord told the high priest he should know it for He “spoke openly” (v.20). But if He only spoke to Jews (Mt.15:24) why did He say He spoke “to the world” (Jo.18:20)? When He taught in the temple He spoke to the world, for it was a house of prayer for “all nations” (Mark 11:17). He spoke nothing “in secret” (Jo.18:20) just like His Father (Isa.45:19), who also spoke openly to reach the world (v.22). The Lord may also have been answering an implied charge that He taught “secretly” because He had something to hide (Deu.13:6-9).
The high priest asked about the disciples, but the Lord said nothing. If he asked about them to embarrass Him that they had fled, He resists the temptation to agree they weren’t worth much (v.21). If you can’t disagree when someone is running down saints, do what the Lord did and say nothing!
John 18:22 combined with Matthew 26:67 fulfills Isaiah 50:6. But if the Lord was supposed to be silent (Isa.53:7) why does He speak (John 18:23)? Ah, He was silent when charged with our sins, for on the Cross He became guilty of them. But here He is charged with speaking ill of His nation’s leader, which would have been His sin (Ex.22:28; Eccl.10:20). If arrested, you can ask the charge, as He did.
Peter denied Him again (v.25), this time “with an oath” (Mt.26:70-72) because He heard the high priest was gunning for him, and his Galilean accent (Mark 14:70) was betraying him (Mt.26:73). Does your speech betray the fact that you are a Christian?
These denials didn’t take place in the heat of a moment, there was an hour between (Luke 22:58-60), so Peter had time to think about them. And now he wasn’t just being charged with associating with the Lord, he was being charged with assaulting an officer of the court (Jo.18:26), a crime and a sin.
In Peter’s third denial (John 18:27) he now adds cursing and swearing to the oath he took in his second denial (Mt.26:74). What you’re seeing here is the natural progression of the intensity sin of any kind.
When Peter vowed he’d never deny the Lord, he probably pictured standing next to Him in a grand trial under the lights. But Satan knew he’d probably do well in such a trial, so sifted him in this little test in the corner of the palace. You and I are the same. He tests us in the little trials of life. The chance we pass on to be honest in a business deal. The opportunity we let slip to name His name to an unbeliever. Passing by the chance to share the mystery with a believer. Life is made of little trials like this
Peter’s warming by the devil’s campfire shows the danger of hobnobbing with the lost, and shows Proverbs 29:25 is true. It also shows the danger of not putting on the most neglected piece of our armor (Eph.6:18). Remember, Peter couldn’t pray with the Lord (Mt.26:40,41) and so fell.
Just because nothing happened to Peter doesn’t mean he got away scot-free. The Lord gave him a look (Lu.22:60-62) that caused him to weep, breaking his heart.
God recorded his fall so we wouldn’t believe those that make him the first of the infallible popes, and to let us know that He is not looking for men who never fall, but for those who repent and serve Him, as Peter did.