Summary: Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and God causes His enemies to plot against Him in order to carry out the plan of redemption.
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and many people believed on Him because of it, but as I told you last time, not everyone was so impressed. Today we’re going to finish chapter eleven and see the other reaction to Christ’s miracle. Before we get into though I want to go over to the book of Luke and have a look at a story Jesus tells that has a lot to do with the remaining verses of John eleven:
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Lk. 16:19-31).
I remember the first time I read this I was a little confused. How can someone not believe if they see someone rise from the dead? Surely this is a mistake! But then we come to the story of a different Lazarus who actually does rise. Now surely no one who saw it will reject Jesus, will they?
46But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
These people knew the Pharisees wanted to kill Him and they knew He’d been staying away from Jerusalem. So when they realize where He is and what He’s done, He’s stirring up the people again, they act as spies and tattletales. They go and report Him.
47Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
All the leaders get together in an emergency meeting. The problem that stands before them is Jesus. It’s incredible that they admit His miracles but refuse to believe in Him! It just goes to show that evidence isn’t what people need to believe. Think about the Samaritans who believed just from talking to Him! But with these Jews, even if someone rises from the dead they’ll never turn.
What bothers them particularly is that the Romans might see this gathering crowd and think Jesus plans to start a revolt. Then they’ll come in and take away any autonomy the Jews have and the leaders won’t get to lead anymore. It’s amazing that these men who had so much esteem for Abraham, they called him Father Abraham, sought a city so different than his. He looked for a city whose builder and maker was God, but they were content with whatever the Romans allowed them to have.
49And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
Now he’s the high priest, and I don’t want you to miss out on this. His position is very important and he is most certainly called by God to serve there. In Acts 23 a man named Ananias ordered someone to strike Paul in the mouth. Paul retorted that God would strike that man in return, and the people standing around him said, “Do you revile God’s priest?” Paul immediately recanted saying, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know he was the high priest.” Even though the man deserved it, Paul knew better than to say anything against him. The office itself belonged to God and was one not to be taken lightly.