Summary: For Whom did Christ die? Caiaphas said, “it is expedient that one man die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” But Caiaphas was terribly wrong.


“The Substitutionary Nature of Christ’s Death”

CLBC March 14, 2004 a. m.

Subject: Christ: Death of

Theme: His Death as a Substitute

Passage: John 11: 45 - 57

They were not pleased!

Word had just reached them through a group of informers that Jesus had raised a man named Lazarus from the dead. There was no doubt about it. Lazarus had been dead for four days,and this Jesus had brought him back to life and called him out of the tomb. As a result, many more people had believed on him as the Messiah, and the Jewish leaders were not pleased.

As a result they called an emergency meeting of the Sanhedrim, the ruling council of the Jewish nation to consider what could be done. I get the feeling that they were almost in a panic. “What shall we do? If we let him alone, everyone will believe on him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” John 11: 47, 48

It was silly, of course. Where was the evidence that Jesus was planning a political revolt

that would bring down the wrath of Rome? Where was the evidence that Rome was watching the situation, ready to destroy the nation because of Jesus? Their fear and hatred only showed the desperate wickedness of the human heart. In the face of overwhelming evidence they shut their eyes to the reality of the miracle; they refused to consider that these miracles proved Christ’s

claim that he had come from heaven, and was their Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

But the high priest Caiaphas had the answer. Looking down even on his fellow priests and Pharisees, Caiaphas announced that “You know \nothing at all... it is expedient that one man die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” And John makes a comment: “Now this he said not on his own authority, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather

together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.” 11: 49 - 52.

Imagine that! In his wicked heart there was only murder, but in giving this verdict, he was

serving as a prophet of God. Like Balaam in the Old Testament, intending to curse Israel, but instead pronounced God’s blessing on Israel, so Caiaphas, in pronouncing Jesus death sentence was actually predicting the very thing that God had determined in the counsels of eternity. “God makes the wrath of man to praise Him!”

Now I would like you to see in this unwilling prophecy

1. The Substitutionary Nature of Christ’s Death. Christ died for the nation.

That little word “for” may mean “instead of” “in place of” “on behalf of”

Little did Caiaphas know that he was fulfilling the words of Isaiah 53.

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 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. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to

his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all....8 ...For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.”

Did you hear that word “our”? - our griefs; our sorrows; our tansgressions; our iniquities; our peace. It is us who have gone astray; it is us who have turned to our own way; He was cut off from the land of the living, not for anything in Himself, but for our iniquity or sin; for our transgressions.

One of the problems of the scribes and pharisees of Jesus’ day was that they had no idea of the enormity of sin. They had a formal religion. They believed that washing their hands in a certain way or keeping the Sabbath in scrupulous detail, or wearing particular kinds of clothing, somehow made them holy. But while they were particular about formal purification and keeping free from defilement, they were plotting foulest murder in their hearts and they did not realize that it is not outward appearance but the state of the heart that God sees.

It’s the same problem of people today. People still have no idea of the enormity of sin. When King David confessed his crimes of adultery and murder, he pronounced the truth “Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight!”

Dear ones, that is the truth. All sin, sin in our thoughts, sin in our speech; sin in our actions is not just against our fellow man, but all sin is against God, and if you want to see God’s estimate of sin, look at the cross. Look at Jesus on the way to the cross.

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