The Gospel of John: One Man Should Die for the People.

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 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.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.” (John 11:45-53)

In addressing the Jewish leader’s reactions to the raising of Lazarus from the dead there were several reactions as John notes in today’s text.

The first reaction was frustration grounded in unbelief. The Pharisees gathered the Sanhedrin council and asked inquisitively “What are we to do?” For this man performs many signs.” They acknowledged that they were powerless to prevent the news of this new miracle. They could not deny the miracle, but neither could they affirm Jesus as God. In doing so, the Pharisees unknowingly acknowledged the blindness of their hearts towards the God they believed they were serving.

The second reaction was fear of losing political power. “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Observe the hubris of the Pharisees comments. They perceived they had the authority to either let Jesus continue His ministry or to prevent it from going on any further. They were not concerned with truth but rather with their power and the possibility of losing it. Their conclusion was that the people would believe in Jesus and then the Roman government would come and take their power away.

Finally, was the resolution to commit pre-meditated murder in order to stop Jesus. “But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 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.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains that, “During the first century, many messianic pretenders led failed uprisings against Rome. The Sanhedrin feared that enthusiasm for Jesus would spark a rebellion among the Jews and that the Romans would come in and punish the Jews, dissolving the Sanhedrin and destroying the temple. Consequently, the Sanhedrin wanted to preserve its position at all costs, and debate ensued regarding whether the best course of action would be to seek the execution of Jesus. Caiaphas, the high priest, said they should seek His death, for it would be better for one man to die than for all the Jews to suffer Roman reprisal (vv. 49–50). Yet, Caiaphas said more than He knew. This unwitting prophet was right that it was better for Jesus to die—not for political redemption as Caiaphas thought but to purchase eternal salvation (vv. 51–53).

Isn’t it interesting that in spite of man’s desires and destructive devices, God remains in sovereign control. What a comfort in the midst of the political climate then, and now.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

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