A good way of studying this passage is to look first at verses 12-14 and 19-24 and then ponder verses 15-18 and 25-27. The first group of verses deal with the trial of Jesus before Annas. He had previously been the High Priest and four of his sons had been High Priests and the present High Priest, Caiaphas, was his son-in-law. We can read in the Old Testament that the role of High Priest was considered to be for life and these facts about Annas demonstrate how far it had disintegrated into becoming whoever would be most sycophantic to the Roman governors. Annas saw Jesus before He went to Caiaphas because He had attacked the money making system of the sale of animals for sacrifice in the Temple. They had to be bought in the Temple, but a pair of doves could cost fifteen times more in the Temple grounds compared to outside! Jesus had upset the tables of the dealers because, as always, He was acting on His Father's behalf, standing up against injustice and exploitation. Annas was a very wealthy man and the Jewish populace hated him. The trial before Annas was a mockery: Annas broke Jewish Law in the way he questioned Jesus and when Jesus protested, he had Him hit! Imagine, Annas causing the Son of God to be attacked! And yet the myriad angels waited on the call of Jesus which didn't happen!
The second group of verses is about Peter's own trial before an assortment of people. The other disciples had all fled, except for Peter and, what is generally thought to be John, the writer of this Gospel. Peter was brought into the courtyard of the High Priest's house and there denied Jesus three times. The 'cock-crow' was probably the trumpet sounding for the changing of the Roman guard, as this term was used to describe it. This would put the time at 3 am. Some Christians rank Peter's denial alongside Judas Iscariot's betrayal for perfidy, but there are obvious reasons why that is not the case: 1. Peter had stayed with Jesus even when the other disciples had fled; 2. The circumstances he faced had only come his way because he loved Jesus so much; yes, he failed, but it was out of love that he was there; 3. Remember that it is John the Beloved disciple who is writing this, so that would mean that for many years after Peter's failure would have been widely known about. Yet John also writes in his last chapter about the risen Jesus confronting Peter with the words, ''Do you love me?'' Yes, Peter failed, yes we all fail Jesus, but may it be from the fact that we love Him and need only to love Him more, not from coldly and with malice aforethought, seeking to destroy the greatest man who ever lived!