About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Plot To Kill Jesus (ch. 11:45-57)


Verse 45 tells us that many of those who came with Mary and Martha to mourn "put their faith in Jesus," and why not?  This was a major miracle.  This would have caused great fear among everyone, especially the Pharisees who were afraid that they would lose their following among the Jews to Jesus. 


As I say over and over again in my commentaries, the Greek word translated as "faith" in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word "pistis."  This word simply means "trust."  That means, many of those who saw Lazarus raised from the dead trusted Jesus.  Does this mean that they trusted Him with their lives in order to be saved?  I don't think so.  These people would not have understood the New Testament message of salvation.  However, after Acts 2, and maybe even during the events of Acts 2, these people might well have trusted their lives with Jesus that led to their salvation as understood in New Testament terms.      


Not all believed in what Jesus had just done.  How they could not have believed in Him after this is hard to know, but, some of these people went to the Pharisees and told them what had happened, as seen in verse 46.  At this point, as seen in verse 47, the chief priest and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. 


The Sanhedrin is the group of 70 men who ruled over the Jews.  It consisted of Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and other influential men.  This might be equivalent to the Canadian parliament or the U.S. congress, with the exception that the Sanhedrin was subject to Roman rule.  Those in the Sanhedrin were put their by the Romans and were often installed because of a bribe.  The Sanhedrin had limited authority.  They existed mainly as a concession on part of Rome to keep the Jews happy. 


In verse 49 the Sanhedrin ask themselves, "What are we accomplishing?"  They were simply dumbfounded.  They had not yet succeeded in arresting Jesus.  The crowds following Jesus were getting larger and in the process the Jewish leaders were beginning to lose credibility among their people. In part this was what they were afraid of.  "What are accomplishing" simply means their plans to silence Jesus was not working.


We see the real problem the Jewish leaders had in verse 47.  If Jesus rose to prominence, the Romans might just close down the Sanhedrin, especially if Jesus was going to lead a rebellion, which many in the Sanhedrin most likely thought Jesus was up to.  Any kind of rebellion or public display of discontent with Roman rule put the Jews in a bad place with Rome .  Rome had given the Jews a certain measure of autonomy.  They did have some limited rule, especially in Jerusalem, but, that could end in one moment of time if the Jews stepped out of line.  Remember, there were many Jewish zealots around that had attempted an overthrow of Rome in the province of Judea.  One too many of these attempts at a rebellion might end what autonomy these Jewish leaders had. 


Note that those in the Sanhedrin were afraid that they might lose their nation.  Well, in one real sense of the word the Jews did not have a nation.  They had a Roman province, and even at Rome had the final say.  Israelis had already lost their nation long ago.


In verse 49 we see Caiaphas.  John said that he was the high priest "that year."   One was a high priest for a one year term but at this point in history that was not always the case.  The high priest was appointed by Rome , and that normally after a sizable financial donation to the right person.   


In verse 50 Caiaphas spoke what some consider, and for good reason, to be a word of prophecy.  He told the Sanhedrin in no uncertain terms that one man had to die for the security of the nation of Israel.  Of course, in Biblical Messianic terms, one man had to die for the nation.  That one man was Jesus, but I believe that Caiaphas probably did not have Biblical salvation in mind when he spoke these words.  Evangelicals today might think that Caiaphas was a true blue believer in salvation in the name of Jesus, but I'm not convinced of that. 


Caiaphas could have easily meant that the Sanhedrin had to make sure Jesus was executed.  If He was executed things would settle down.  Jesus, the so-called revolutionary would be silenced, and Rome would not step in and take what little autonomy away from the Jewish leaders in the Sanhedrin.  I believe verse 53 confirms this when the text states that from that point on, meaning, after Caiaphas said that one man had to die for the nation, the Sanhedrin voted to arrest and execute Jesus.  This response tells me that the Sanhedrin, including Caiaphas did not understand Caiaphas' words as a prophecy of salivation.         


All of the above being said, I can understand from verses 51 and 52 how Evangelical Christians might conclude that Caiaphas was actually speaking prophetically as if he was an Old Testament style prophet.  If in fact he did speak an Old Testament style prophecy predicting the coming of the Messiah who would bring salvation to Israel , he certainly did not understand the words he was speaking in that light. As my friend Shirley Foster put it, "Caiaphas' words were ironically prophetic," meaning, his words spoke a valid prophecy but he ironically failed to understand their real meaning.                


John also records that Caiaphas predicted that the Children of God who were scattered throughout the known world would also be brought back into the fold.  The Children of God spoken of here were the Jews who have been scattered throughout the known world due to persecution in days past.  Some say that the Children of God that were scattered throughout the world were Gentiles who would become Christian, but I see that Caiaphas, a good Jew, would not think in terms of Gentiles becoming part of the Children of God.    


I do believe that God was clearly using Caiaphas and his prophecy as yet another means of trying to reach these Jewish leaders.  It was just not understood by those listening and probably by Caiaphas himself who was speaking the prophecy.   


From this time on the Sanhedrin determined to kill Jesus as seen in verse 53. 


Verse 54 tells us that Jesus no longer appeared publically.  He clearly knew that Jewish authorities were after Him and His time to die had not yet come.  I believe the timing of Jesus' death was to be at an exact time, right to the second.  God is that detailed, and, throughout the book of John we see such statements that Jesus' time for one thing or another had not yet come.  To me, this clearly suggests that God has a timetable that He follows.  Nothing happens a second before or a second after what He has pre-arranged. 


John closes this section by mentioning that many went to Jerusalem for the Passover, but before they could participate in Passover they had to undergo a Jewish cleansing ritual that it appears Jesus did not participate in.  When they got there, everyone was questioning where Jesus was and if He would actually come since the Pharisees and the leaders told everyone to let them know if they saw Him.  They would arrest Jesus immediately.  Of course, we know that Jesus did arrive.

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