Sermon: God’s Perfect Lamb and the Best Humanity Can Offer John 18:12–18

God’s Perfect Lamb and the Best Humanity Can Offer

John 18:12–18

Truth Taught- John contrasts the perfection of Jesus to the weakness of humanity

Father, You have Gathered Your people that You may let us hear Your words, so that we may learn to fear You all the days that we live on the earth, and that we may also teach our children…amen

John 18:12–18 (ESV)

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.

  1. God’s Perfect Lamb

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.

Here is the beginning of the sacrifice Jesus is going to make. This is why John tells us that they bound Him and then in verse 14, he records the words of Caiaphas the high priest that one Man should die for the people.
Jesus has now been arrested. The band of Roman soldiers has done their task. They arrested Him even though He had sent them to their knees with two words…I AM. They arrested Him even though He miraculously healed the slave’s ear that was hacked off by Peter. Even though He had done countless miracles in their midst and even though He taught them the Word of God, He was still arrested.

All this should show us by way of illustration just how sinful and blind the lost world is. How could they act like none of this ever happened? How could they treat Jesus this way?

2 Corinthians 4:4 (ESV)

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

They are also illustrating that they are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).

This is a picture of all who are lost. They are blinded by the evil one and by their own sin, blindness and deadness to the things of God.
If we are to see and live, we should begin with what Jesus is doing right here, right now in the redemption of His people. John reports that they bound Him. This language is the language of the Old Testament sacrificial system. It’s also the language found in some clear shadows of Jesus.

Psalm 118:27 (ESV)

27    The Lord is God,

and he has made his light to shine upon us.

       Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,

up to the horns of the altar!

Genesis 22:5–9 (ESV)

Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

So we now begin to see how fitting John’s words are here. Just like Isaac who was bound and made ready to be a sacrifice so too Jesus is bound as the Lamb of God to be the one time ultimate sacrifice for sin.

Our Lord was made the sacrifice for sin, He was bound.

Next, John reports that He was led. That is also a word from the sacrificial system. The sacrifice was led to the place of execution. There are Messianic and prophetic overtones here that we would do well not to miss.
Isaiah 53:7 (ESV)

   He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;

       like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.

John wants us to see that what he saw that night was exactly what Isaiah said would happen to the Messiah. Isaiah wrote as he was moved by God to write the details that would come to pass some 800 years later concerning the Messiah Jesus Christ. Jesus would be bound and led away to the slaughter.
Some might think that Im taking this too far in looking at a couple of words and connecting them back to the OT sacrifice and system. Let’s look at another passage that actually does this for us.
Acts 8:26–35 (ESV)

26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27 And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:

       “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter

and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,

so he opens not his mouth.

33    In his humiliation justice was denied him.

Who can describe his generation?

       For his life is taken away from the earth.”

34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.

This is exactly the connection John wants his readers to make. Jesus is now pictured as the ultimate sacrificial Lamb. Through His sacrifice all the sins of His people would be paid.
Jesus was bound and led away. We also see one more piece of this sacrificial puzzle. John reminds us a what Caiaphas said. What’s interesting here is that Caiaphas is the Jewish High Priest but is a sinner still lost in his sins. He still makes, unbeknown to him, a prophetic declaration about the extent of the sacrifice.
14 It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people.

John gives us a parenthetical reference to remind us who this man is.
John 11:49–53 (ESV)

49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

So, realize that Caiaphas meant that it would be better to put Jesus to death and preserve their power as high priest, Sanhedrin, Pharisees etc than to allow Jesus to continue to disrupt Jerusalem with His teaching. Killing Him would serve their greater good. Killing Him would preserve their way of life, in that they could still exercise dominance and control over the people. His words, however, were prophetic in that Jesus would sacrifice Himself for the people. It would be far better for Jesus to sacrifice Himself and save us than for all of humanity to die in their sins.

Now the scene shifts away from our Lord and His perfect submission and obedience to His Father’s will to His “A” team.

  1. Humanity’s Best

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.

Now we’ll see humanity in action. If you remember from last time Peter was all tough and ready to hack his way through the band of soldiers, as long as Jesus was next to him. As long as his leader was standing by him, you know the guy who sent the army to the ground with two words. Now Peter is not with Jesus. Peter is representing the best humanity can offer God apart from Jesus.

Peter flees along with the rest of the disciples. Now he begins to follow from a distance. The scene now is Peter and John are following the crowd from a long way off.

Here’s the scene…John and Peter walk up to the door of the courtyard area. Because John knows the high priest he enters, speaks to the slave girl who is watching the door and gets permission for Peter to also come in. As Peter walks past her she says, you are not one of His disciples are you? That’s the basic Greek translation. She asks but expects a no answer.
For whatever reason Peter denies being a disciple.

The first thing for us to understand here is that Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew Peter.
John 13:36–38 (ESV)

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

We should be very cautious when it comes to making sweeping claims about our commitments to Christ. We might say something very similar. Lord I’ll follow You wherever You lead. I’ll never fall away. I’ll never shrink back in fear. Listen, if we are to follow Christ wherever He leads us we must do so with the power He supplies not in our own power. If we seek to follow Jesus in our own strength we will fail.

One writer has this warning for us…The tragic story of Peter’s multiple denials is a warning to all who would claim self-confidently that they would follow Jesus wherever He leads them. Boasting of our own abilities is an invitation to failure.

I really like the true picture of all of us who seek to follow Christ that John Calvin gives in his commentary…Now at the voice of a single maid and that voice unaccompanied by threatening, he is confounded and throws down his arms. Such is the demonstration of the power of man. Do we not continually tremble at the rustling of a falling leaf? A false appearance of danger, which is still distant, made Peter tremble: and are we not everyday lead away from Christ by childish absurdities?

What was Peter doing? Why did he deny that he knew Jesus? Out of fear he was trying to blend in with the lost world. He was trying to avoid the gaze of the world. He was making himself in appearance like the lost world around him. Look beloved, Peter was not like the world around him, he was not to blend in and hide among those who didn’t know Christ.
We must not seek to blend in but we are called to be different, called to be noticed.
Matthew 5:14–16 (ESV)

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Understand we all suffer from the fear of man to some degree. Peter wasn’t the worst disciple or one who was just barely a follower, he was the best Jesus had.

Application
By way of application lets see if we can follow and discover where Peter messed up. Perhaps this will help us as we seek to follow Christ consistently.
1- Overconfidence-
John 13:37–38 (ESV)

37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

Peter greatly miscalculated his strength to follow Christ. Because of this he was trusting in himself. Just earlier that same evening Jesus warned them…
John 15:5 (ESV)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

2- Prayerless-

The reality is that his overconfidence in himself led to not praying. Instead of praying which shows the need for God and His strength Peter didn’t pray because he thought he could do it himself.
We must not be overconfident and prayerless.
3- Followed at a Distance-

Following Jesus at a distance is really not following Him at all.

Luke 22:54 (ESV)

54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance.

Often times those who claim to be followers are merely following at a distance. So many times folks will follow with their guard up or follow depending on where they are. When they’re at worship on Sundays they look like followers but what about at work or at school the rest of the time? Are you a convenient follower? Do you seek to turn your faith on and off depending on who you’re with?
Don’t see how far away you can follow and still be a Christian but discover how close you can follow.
In the Exodus there were millions of Hebrews following the ark. When it turned it would take days for them to turn because of the people. Follow so close to Jesus that if He stops you’ll run into His back. Follow close not at a distance.

Use these three points to gauge your life and faith. Where or what area may you need to seek godly change. Even in changing remember, don’t be too confident in your own ability, seek the Lord’s strength in prayer and follow close behind Him.

Resources used-

John MacArthur’s Commentary on John

Reformed Expository Commentary on John

Ligonier Ministry resources

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