Summary: The story of Caiaphas and his role in the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Crucifixion: The Chief Priest
March 15, 2015
Have you ever noticed how many “who done it” programs are on television? We have the old favorites like “Law and Order, CSI, Castle, NCIS, The Mentalist, Elementary and others. They try to keep the viewer in suspense as the characters go through a myriad of hoops trying to determine who done it?
Well, every year around this time people try to answer another who done it question . . . “Who killed Jesus?” Some people blame the Romans, some blame the Jews, some don’t really care. Ultimately the answer is the fact that sin killed Jesus. And we are part of that sin which killed Him. As we move towards Easter, we’re going to look at some of the different characters who were involved in the final moments of Jesus’ earthly life.
Today we are going to look at a really complicated figure. We’re going to look at the High Priest of Jerusalem. His name was Joseph Caiaphas. Caiaphas was High Priest from 18-36. That was an extremely long period of time for someone to be High Priest. Usually the term lasted a couple of years.
So, why did Caiaphas last so long in his position? The territory of Judea was not considered the best assignment, it was not in the best of territories and their were constant threats of uprisings. But, it’s believed to have been much more palatable because of the side benefits which came with the job.
You see, Caiaphas was the main man in the temple. He had access to the treasury and there were thousands upon thousands of Jews who made an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year. Each carried their credit and debit cards. And if you played your cards right, you could make some side money.
Caiaphas had married the daughter of the previous High Priest, Annas. Which helped his position and rise to rule the Jewish Council in Jerusalem.
In the midst of Caiaphas running the council and the temple, suddenly a man named Jesus came onto the scene. Jesus was attracting quite a crowd. He was healing people, hanging out with sinners, the sick, the lame, the Gentiles. This was not good PR for the temple to have a Jewish teacher/rabbi doing this. He was also telling stories which were directed right at the Jewish leaders, telling them they were sinful, which infuriated them.
Jesus made some outlandish statements, statements which in their minds were worthy of death. I want to look at two major passages of scripture. Jesus has just performed one of His greatest miracles. In the gospel of John 11, Jesus has brought Lazarus back from the dead. Immediately after that occurred, look at what happened ~
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, and believed in Him,
46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this Man performs many signs.
48 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.”
49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all.
50 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.”
51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,
52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
So, what’s happened? Jesus has risen Lazarus from the dead. Some people believe in Jesus, some don’t and thought it would be good to tell the Jewish leaders what’s going on. The leaders were troubled and alarmed. They weren’t thinking spiritually, they’re not even thinking religiously. They’re thinking politically and personally. This is all about them and their place of honor and wealth. Look back at verse 48, the council said, 48 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.”
Do you see what they are afraid of? Everyone will believe in Jesus. And if everyone believes in Jesus, how many will follow them? They would lose their fame, plus the Romans will take away our place. The Romans will take away all they have. All the times we gave in to the Romans to get a few more perks will be gone. And we can’t let that happen.