Summary: See how Caiaphas unknowingly spoke the truth about Jesus while trying to plan for his crucifixion.
March 3, 2004 John 11:47-53
“Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 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.” 49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
When someone calls you a “Nimrod,” it usually isn’t meant to be a compliment. But Genesis 10 says that he was a mighty hunter before the LORD. Unknowingly, they are paying you a compliment. Likewise, someone might call you a “Jew”, implying that you are a greedy person. But we could take that as a compliment, because Jesus was a Jew, and God calls them the original chosen people. After I preached a funeral sermon in McCook, a man came up to me and derisively said, “you’re just trying to convert everybody.” He was trying to insult me, but I took that as a compliment. It’s kind of interesting in life how someone can try to say one thing and actually be understood to be saying something completely different. Usually in life you can try to say something positively, but it ends up negative. A man can say to his wife, “you look thin in that dress,” trying to compliment her. But she replies, “so you’re saying I usually look fat in my other clothes?” That’s just the way life is.
In today’s text, we have another case of that happening. Caiaphas was trying to say something - but it ended up meaning something completely different from what he intended. His followers interpreted in the way that he meant it, but God interpreted it to mean something completely different. Caiaphas said, “it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” What did he mean? How did God mean it? That’s what we’ll find out tonight when we hear Caiaphas -
Speaking the Substitutionary Truth
I. The meaning of Caiaphas
The Substitionary Truth came two thousand years ago at the meeting of the religious minds of the Jewish world. Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead, after being dead for four days. This was an INCREDIBLE miracle that noone could deny. The real kicker was that during those four days many of Mary’s friends and relatives were able to come and witness for themselves that Lazarus really was dead. Just prior to our text for tonight it says, Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. These people were becoming true followers of Christ. They were really sold on what Jesus was saying about Himself because of the miracles that He did to back up his message.
But not everyone was sold on what He was doing. After Jesus raised Lazarus John tells us that some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. (Jn 11:46-47) They didn’t tell the Pharisees about Jesus because they wanted them to be converted. They were “tattle taling” on Christ, feeling threatened by what Jesus was doing. Why? Because if people were converted to faith in Christ, they would also follow his teachings. Jesus clearly taught that He was the way, the truth, and the life. It wasn’t as if they could share followers with Jesus. Christ had made it clear that he was opposed to them - different from them. It wasn’t his way or the highway. His way was the highway.
So what did they do? Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. (Jn 11:47). They called a meeting. One of my least favorite things in life are meetings. A majority of the time you just sit around and talk, and you don’t end up getting anything accomplished. But people just love forming committees to examine this and examine that - we’ll talk about evangelism and talk about stewardship or talk about outreach but it’s much more effective to just go out and DO it. So the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
Who were the Sanhedrin? The Sanhedrin goes back to the close of the Maccabean struggles, about 140 B.C. Through a Jewish revolt the Maccabeans were able to win some freedoms, like establishing their own institutions. One of them was the Sanhedrin. This was made up of three groups.