January 27, 2019 – John 18:1-27

Lesson Date: January 27, 2019

Focal Scripture Passage: John 18:1-27

AIM: To lead students to contrast the boldness of Jesus with the fearfulness of Peter, and to ask God to make them more bold in their witnessing.


Before class: Read the notes on John 18:1-27 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read the following story to the class:

The year was a.d. 155, and the persecution against Christians swept across the Roman Empire and came to the city of Smyrna.  The proconsul of Smyrna, swept up in this persecution, put out an order that the Bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp, was to be found, arrested, and brought to the public arena for execution.  They found Polycarp and brought him before thousands of spectators screaming for blood.  But the proconsul had compassion on this man who was almost a hundred years old.  He signaled the crowd to silence.  To Polycarp he said, “Curse the Christ and live.”

The crowd waited for the old man to answer.  In an amazingly strong voice, he said, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He has done me no wrong.  How dare I blaspheme the name of my King and Lord!”  With that Polycarp became a martyr.[1]

Tell the students this story illustrates one Christian’s refusal to deny his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, even though that refusal cost his life.  Tell them in today’s scripture passage we will see that both Jesus and Simon Peter were faced with opposition and harm.  We will contrast the ways Jesus and Peter responded.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Gospel of John.
    • Ask: “Why did John write his Gospel?” (so his readers would believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have everlasting life by trusting in Him – John 20:31).
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed for His disciples and for us).
  2. Jesus was Arrested.
    • Ask: “What took place in chapters 13 – 17?” (the events of Jesus’ last night with His disciples, including the Last Supper, His announcement that one of the disciples would betray Him, and His last prayer with His disciples).
    • Tell the class in John 14:31 Jesus said to His disciples, “Arise, let us go hence” (leave this place and go to another location). The conversations and prayer included in chapters 15, 16, and 17 may have taken place as Jesus and the disciples walked through the streets of Jerusalem, heading toward the Mount of Olives (locate the possible site of the Last Supper and the Mount of Olives on the map of Jerusalem at the Time of Christ).
    • Read John 18:1.
    • Again using the map of Jerusalem at the Time of Christ, explain that Jesus and His eleven remaining disciples left the city of Jerusalem, crossed the Kidron Valley, and entered the Garden of Gethsemane.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 18:2-3.
    • Tell the students that verse 2 says the Garden of Gethsemane was a familiar place to Jesus and the disciples, including Judas.
    • Ask: “Who did Judas bring to the garden?” (soldiers, Temple guards, and representatives of the Jewish religious leaders).
    • Ask the students to try to picture this scene in their minds, as you read John 18:4-9.
    • Ask: “According to verse 4, what did Jesus know?” (everything that was about to happen; in other words, He knew the plans for His arrest and crucifixion).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus ask the soldiers and officers in verse 4?” (Who are you seeking?). They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.”
    • Ask: “How did Jesus respond to the officers in verse 5?” (He said, “I AM”).
    • Read Exodus 3:13-14.
    • Remind the students that this is the way Almighty God identified Himself to Moses. The Jews understood that “I AM” was God’s name.
    • Ask: “What did the officers and soldiers do when Jesus said this?” (they fell backward to the ground, in awe of a man who was clearly claiming to be God).
    • Tell the class Jesus again asked the officers and soldiers who they were seeking (verse 7), and again responded by saying, “I AM” (verse 8).
    • Stress the fact that Jesus remained in complete control of the situation, even though He was the one being arrested.
    • Explain that in fulfillment of His promises (John 6:39; 17:12), Jesus made certain that His disciples were not arrested with Him.
    • Read John 18:10-11.
    • Ask: “What did Peter do?” (cut off Malchus’ ear).
    • Ask: “Why did Jesus stop Peter from fighting to defend Him?” (because the time had come for him to be arrested, tried, and crucified).
    • Comment that Peter was bold when armed with a sword and under cover of darkness.
    • Summarize: Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the Jewish authorities. The arrest occurred according to God’s plan and Jesus remained in control of the situation.
  3. Jesus was Questioned by the High Priest.
    • Read John 18:12-14.
    • Tell the class the soldiers tied Jesus up.
    • Ask: “Where did they take Him?” (to Annas).
    • Explain that Annas was a former high priest and father-in-law of the current high priest, Caiaphas.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 18:15-18.
    • Tell the students that Peter and John followed Jesus to Annas’ house (point out the possible location of Caiphas’ and Annas’ house on the map of Jerusalem at the Time of Christ). The high priest knew John so he was allowed in, but Peter was not.  John went back to the door and brought Peter inside.
    • Ask: “What did the servant girl who kept the door ask Peter?” (Aren’t you one of Jesus’ disciples?)
    • Ask: “How did Peter respond?” (he said, “I am not”).
    • Explain that ancient Jewish houses usually consisted of a central courtyard surrounded by rooms and enclosed within a wall. Annas lived in one of those rooms and Caiphas’ lived in another.  Peter stayed near the fire that was burning in the courtyard, while Jesus was questioned in one of the rooms.
    • Tell the class Annas sent Jesus (still tied up) to be questioned by Caiphas (John 18:24).
    • Read John 18:19-24.
    • Tell the students Jesus was questioned by the high priest about His disciples and His teachings.
    • In verses 20-21 Jesus answered, “I have taught openly in the synagogues and the Temple, and I have kept no secrets. Ask those who have heard me teach; they can tell you what I have said.”
    • Ask: “What happened to Jesus next?” (He was struck by one of the officers).
    • Ask: “How did Jesus respond to this attack?” (He said if He had done evil they should prove it; if not they had no reason to hit Him).
    • Summarize: Jesus was tied up and taken to the high priest, who questioned Him about His disciples and his doctrine.
  4. Peter Denied Jesus.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 18:25-27.
    • Ask: “According to verse 25, what happened while Peter was warming himself by the fire?” (the people standing there asked him if he was one of Jesus’ disciples).
    • Ask: “How did Peter respond?” (he denied Jesus, emphatically saying, “I am not”).
    • Ask: “Who spoke to Peter next?” (one of the high priest’s servants, who was a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off).
    • Ask: “What did this man ask Peter?” (Didn’t I see you with Jesus in the garden?).
    • Ask: “What did Peter do?” (denied Jesus a third time).
    • Tell the class immediately the cock crowed, fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy (John 13:38).
    • Note that Peter was bold when armed with his sword and surrounded by his friends, but he was cowardly when confronted one-on-one.
    • Summarize: Peter denied Jesus three times (18:17, 25, 27), just as Jesus said he would.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Draw a vertical line on the marker board or chalkboard, creating two columns.  Write “Jesus” at the top of one column and “Peter” at the top of the other column.  Tell the class that both Peter and Jesus faced danger, opposition, and physical hurt.  Ask: “How did Jesus respond when confronted?” (even though He knew the torturous treatment that was coming, He willingly admitted who He was and boldly said, “I AM”).  Write “Bold” and “I AM” in the “Jesus” column.

Ask: “How did Peter respond when confronted?” (he was cowardly, lied about his identity, and said, “I am not”).  Write “Cowardly,” “Lied,” and “I am not” in the “Peter” column.

Ask: “Whose example do you want to imitate: Jesus in His boldness or Peter in his shame and cowardice?” (we should want to be bolder, like Jesus).  Ask the students to name some situations in which they have trouble being bold for Jesus Christ.  Ask them to suggest ways we can become bolder witnesses for Christ.

Explain that Jesus knew His purpose on earth (to die on the cross to purchase our salvation), so He could be bold and refuse to be diverted from His task.  Peter, on the other hand, didn’t know what the future held, so he was afraid.  Fear often keeps us from witnessing for Christ.

Ask the students to think about missionaries serving in foreign and dangerous lands.  Those of us at home often marvel at their bravery and single-minded devotion to their task.  God has called them to serve in those places, and focusing on that calling can keep them from yielding to their fleshly fears.  We should focus on the mission God has given us on earth – to tell others about Jesus Christ.

Tell the class another way we can become bolder is to ask for God’s help.  Lead a closing prayer, giving members an opportunity to silently ask God to make them bolder in their witnessing.


CONCLUSION: Encourage the students to look for opportunities this week to speak boldly for Jesus Christ.  Consider planning a class outreach activity, such as handing out tracts at the mall or going to visit some class prospects.  We draw strength and boldness from each other when we work together for the cause of Christ.

[1] Bible Illustrator for Windows, Version 3.0f, Copyright © 1990-1998 by Parsons Technology, Inc.

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