Summary: Caiaphas was allowed to give one of the most powerful prophecies regarding Jesus’ mission to earth. And yet, Caiaphas was a ruthless, ungodly and illegitimate High Priest. Why would God use him for this purpose?
OPEN: A mother shared this incident about taking her son to the doctor:
“Because of an ear infection, my young son, Casey, had to go to the pediatrician. I was impressed with the way the doctor directed his comments and questions to my son. When he asked Casey, "is there anything you are allergic to?" Casey nodded and whispered in his ear.
Smiling, the pediatrician wrote out a prescription and handed it to me. Without looking at it, I tucked it into my purse. Later, the pharmacist filled the order, remarking on the unusual food-drug interaction my son must have. When he saw my puzzled expression, he showed me the label on the bottle.
As per the doctor’s instructions, it read: "Do not take with broccoli."
APPLICATION: I like that Doctor – he’s my kind of man. Don’t take with broccoli. I wish I’d known him when I was a kid. He could have made all kinds of prescriptions: don’t take with green peas, don’t take with lima beans. I like him…
But the pharmacist was a bit puzzled. This was a peculiar prescription for him to fill out. He’d never heard of food/drug interaction like the one the Doctor had forbidden. It didn’t make sense.
AND there are things about the text we’ve read today that just don’t make sense
I. First, let me introduce you to the central player in this drama – a man named Caiaphas.
Caiaphas was a successful man in his day. Born of the tribe of Levi, he’d married the daughter of the High Priest, Annas. But because the Romans had become disenchanted with Annas, he had lost his position and Rome offered the office to the highest bidder every year. The winner this year was Caiaphas (kind of kept it in the family). And although he was the official High Priest, Annas continued to be the power behind the throne.
Now Caiaphas was not a particularly religious man. He belonged the party of the Sadducees, and the Sadducees were a very secular group. God was not a very powerful force in their lives. For example, they openly refused to accept the idea of bodily resurrection. One of the easy ways to remember their name is that because they didn’t believe in a bodily resurrection from the dead – they were very Sad U See.
So, although they may have been very religious, they didn’t really believe IN God.
SO, you have a High Priest, who has bought his office, and doesn’t believe IN God. That’s one of the 1st things about this text that doesn’t make sense. I mean it was true, it really happened… It just doesn’t make any sense for a man who is in the position of spiritual leadership of a nation to not believe in God.
II. Now, as you might imagine, Caiaphas was not a very nice man.
He’s bought his office, so you know he’s not a very principled individual. In fact, SINCE he bought his office, (rather than having it given to him by God) it was up to him to defend his own position. I mean God’s not going to do it for him… he doesn’t even believe God does much of anything at all. And so, because God isn’t in the picture, it was up to him to defend his place and position. Thus he has become something of a politician – used to manipulating others around him.
But now there has come along a man whom he can’t manipulate. A threat to his power. A man named Jesus. The Chief Priests and the Pharisees are the first to vocalize it.
They say: "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." (John 11:47-48)
They’re scared. And they have good reason to be. Rome could be a benevolent master. But it didn’t take kindly to anything or anyone who would threaten their authority. Roman soldiers could be ruthless when putting down anything that looked like insurrection.
And here was this Jesus.
He was popular
He was powerful
And when He spoke He could mesmerize entire crowds of people.
It looked as though he could to raise up an army of believers that would attempt to throw off the hated chains of Roman occupation.
Now, if this had been what a mortal Jesus had had in mind – it might just work. Other men had tried it before and had failed. But this Jesus had a larger following that those others. He might just get it done.
BUT, if He didn’t. The results could be unimaginable. Rome would bring the hammer down hard. People would be slaughtered by the thousands, and those who weren’t killed would be carried off into slavery. Rome had leveled other cities for less. Jerusalem would be destroyed and its Temple would be burned to the ground