Summary: God often uses the utterings of evil men to announce His own purposes. They think they are in control but they are not.
“Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48 “If we let Him go on like this, all men 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 take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.”
Jesus had performed what was, at least by human reckoning, the most amazing miracle of His earthly ministry. It was as though God had saved the best for last. Jesus had for several years moved all over Israel, healing diseases and physical infirmities, teaching with such astounding and authoritative oratory that people were inspired to proclaim that no man ever spoke as He did; and yes, He had given life back to at least two people that had died, which come to my mind right now – Jairus’ daughter and the son of the widow of Nain – both events taking place in relative privacy and obscurity.
But now he had come to Bethany just east of Jerusalem, to a prominent and apparently well-loved family, surrounded by mourners and visitors and curious on-lookers, many of them even belonging to the Jewish ruling class, and in a very open, very public, very demonstrative fashion, called His friend back to life who had been four days dead – four days in the tomb – four days in the process of decomposition – and everyone present witnessed the miracle happen.
There was no denying it; and in fact no one did deny it. If you study this entire portion of John’s Gospel carefully you will see that there is no denial from even the enemies of Jesus who wanted to kill Him, that Lazarus had been raised by Jesus from the dead. In fact, it was because He had done this thing that they finally said that’s it, enough is too much, He’s got to go. That is what we will be looking at today.
COMMITTEE (vs 47)
The raising of Lazarus took place very shortly before the Passover, so there were probably already many travellers coming to the holy city in anticipation of the celebration to find lodging and secure the elements for their Passover meal and of course their lambs for the sacrifice.
Verse 45 of chapter 11 says that Many of the Jews who had come to Mary and beheld what Jesus had done believed in Him, but some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.
If we pause and let this picture form in our minds we can imagine that the chief priests and Pharisees, who already hated Jesus with unparallelled venom, must have been alarmed and totally frustrated at this point.
Not too long ago Jesus had come to the Temple and engaged in a confrontation with these Jews in which He had exposed them as liars and hypocrites, told them their father was not Abraham but the devil and had claimed openly that He was God. Then He had, in another very public forum, given sight to a man who had been blind from birth and whom everyone knew.
We know the word of this spread far and wide because there is specific mention of the miracle in chapter 11 verse 37 when people gathered at the home of Mary and Martha wondered why this one who gave sight to the blind hadn’t kept Lazarus from dying.
So the ruling Jews are already at wit’s end and contemplating murder. We should never stop being amazed at this. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be amazed at this. We should be amazed that the Messiah coming as predicted and doing all the things the prophets said He would do would elicit a murderous reaction in the very people who should have been the first to recognize and welcome and worship Him.
On the other hand, we should not be amazed at this if we understand that unbelief will never respond well to the truth and will not accept or recognize the facts when presented.
Have you ever had someone reject something you were telling them no matter how much evidence you had or how clearly you presented the facts, just because they didn’t want to believe and nothing you said was going to change their mind?