February 2014 Scripture of the Month
47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Between the covers of the greatest book on earth, there is plenty of humor and irony. This passage contains some of the greatest ironies found in Scripture – partly because they are about the greatest deed that was ever done for mankind.
This meeting takes place after the raising of Lazarus. Four days in the grave, he was raised back to life in one of Jesus’ greatest recorded miracles. There was no possible room for doubt. Some Jews even believed that a soul would hover by its dead body for three days, hoping to inhabit it again, but it lost hope on the fourth day. However, Jesus proved that He could overcome even this “obstacle”. The chief priests and Pharisees began to seriously fear what impact Jesus would have on the people if his influence was unchecked. They knew that Jesus did not agree with many of their practices, and if the people at large began to follow this Man, they would lose their position of power. In their words, “all men [would] believe on him”. How ironic – even though the chief priests and Pharisees eventually did everything in their power to stop Jesus, they still could not stop His message from spreading to the far corners of the earth. In a sense, the Pharisees are prophesying their own fate, without even knowing it!
Caiaphas’ solution to their problem also contains an unconscious prophesy. He says “It is expedient…that one man should die…and that the whole nation perish not.” Of course, what Caiaphas meant is that this one Man, Jesus, whom they perceived as dangerous, should be killed so that the whole nation of Israel would not turn after His ways. But this is not exactly what Caiaphas said. Attempting to be shrewd in how he worded his accusation, he actually made a very good statement of the kingdom of God that was to come. Jesus died, not only for the people of Israel, but for all the people of the world, so that they would not perish. Caiaphas pretty much repeated what Jesus said to Nicodemus the Pharisee in John 3:16 – “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish”. Nicodemus was likely present at this meeting. I wonder if he realized the connection?
Jesus did not come to save only the nation of Israel, as was commonly thought in His day. As John understood, His mission was to save all nations and bring His people together into the collective unit called the church, also known as His bride. What a beautiful picture of His relationship with us!