Summary: Good Friday: All of us have ideas about the person of Christ and His work. Because of their presuppositions, the chief priests and Pharisees were unable to see the "truth" that Jesus was and is the long-awaited Messiah and Savior.
I’ve entitled our message this evening, “One Man Shall Die for All.” We call the day that our Lord died on the cross Good Friday, but there was nothing good about it for Jesus. This day is called “good,” because it’s good for us. In a prophecy of the Messiah, in Isaiah 53:4-5, we read, “Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” A key word in this prophecy is “our,” because it details all the benefits that “we” have received from Jesus’ death on the cross. But sometimes people choose to reject these benefits, which is something we will see this evening.
The Response to Jesus’ Miracles (11:45-48)
45 Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”
“No sooner had Lazarus come forth [from the tomb], than attention shifted from him and focused on the response of the onlookers to Jesus” (Broadman, p. 316). The restoration of Lazarus had a two-fold effect. First, some who heard about it believed in Jesus. Secondly, there were others who went to the Pharisees and told them about the things that Jesus had done (Johnson).
In John 14:6, Jesus declared Himself to be the way, the truth, and the life. He stated that no one could come to Father, and that no one could make it to heaven apart from knowing Him as their Savior and Lord. Their response to Jesus – their response to His claims, and their response of either surrender or defiance – was determined by their presuppositions, opinions and ideology.
All of us have ideas about the person of Christ and His work. Even those who are not Christians have an opinion or a view concerning Jesus. Our ideas may be deficient, they may be wrong, or they may even be opposed to the Bible, but we still have ideas (Johnson). So, because of their presuppositions, some – namely the chief priests and Pharisees – were unable to see Jesus for who He really was as the long-awaited Messiah and Savior. They acknowledged that He was doing many signs, but all they could see is Someone who challenged their beliefs and authority.
In Isaiah 8:14, we are told of the coming Messiah, “He will be as a sanctuary; but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel.” S. Lewis Johnson says, “Either we build upon Christ or we must fall over Him.” For those whose views are founded on the Word and founded on the Rock of Christ, Jesus is their sanctuary; He is salvation and eternal life. But for those whose views are contrary to the Word, whose ideology is based on personal opinion, or founded on societal acceptance and approval, they will stumble and fall before Truth.
So, the scribes and Pharisees gathered a council together, and they said, “What shall we do?” Notice that there is an emphasis on “our place” and “our nation.” They were not very concerned about the things that Jesus was doing, which were amazing and impressive. They were more concerned about the privileges they had received from the Romans (Johnson).
There are many in our society today, many who are lost, who have the preconceived notion that the way to heaven is to be a good person, to live a good life and do good for others; and because of this, they refuse to see the truth that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9); and so, they stumble and fall. There are others who claim to be Christians and hold views contrary to the teachings of the Bible, and because of an ideology based purely on personal opinion rather than the Word, they refuse to hear the truth of the Bible; and they make it their cause to fight those with “conservative” beliefs.
In a similar manner, the chief priests and Pharisees opposed Jesus. They felt it “impossible to allow Jesus to continue unchecked. If He was allowed to go on doing the things which He was doing, it was inevitable that the people would follow Him in even greater numbers. So, the Sanhedrin was called to deal with the situation” (Barclay, p. 120).