THE REDEMPTIVE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST ON BEHALF OF HIS PEOPLE IS PLANNED OUT IN PROPHETIC IRONY BY HIS CHIEF ENEMIES
(:45-46) INTRODUCTION: TWO REACTIONS – BELIEF VS. BETRAYAL
A. (:45) Belief
“Many therefore of the Jews, who had come to Mary and beheld what He had done, believed in Him.”
Can’t get a more impressive sign than the resurrection from the dead.
B. (:46) Betrayal
“But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done.”
Nobody likes a tattletale! Usually you think of someone reporting about bad things someone has done to get them into trouble; ironically in the case of Jesus it was always His good works that were reported to get Him into trouble with the religious authorities.
I. (:47-53) TWO OPTIONS – POLITICAL CRISIS
A. (:47-48) Do Nothing and Risk Political Suicide
“Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, ‘What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 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.’”
Stedman: In the council of the Sanhedrin there were two parties, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Pharisees were what we would call today “fundamentalists.” They were the religionists, the party that took literally everything in the Law. They tried to carry out the commands of the Law, and boasted in their ability to live according to it. We get their point of view in these opening verses. It is they who say, as John records, “What are we to do?” Actually, what they literally said was, “What are we doing?” You can hear the panic in that: “What are we doing? Things are getting out of hand. This man is performing all these signs.” Then, typically, they projected into the future: “If we let this go on everybody is going to believe in Jesus, everyone is going to accept him as the Messiah.” They saw that as a tragedy. In their view, the Messiah would lead a political uprising and that would result in the wrath of Rome coming down upon them: “The Romans will come and destroy both our temple and our nation.”
B. (:49-53) Silence the Sign Worker and Save the Status Quo
1. (:49) Arrogant Voice of Political Realism
“But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all.’”
2. (:50) Callous Voice of Expediency
“nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish.”
3. (:51-52) Redemptive Voice of Prophetic Insight
“Now this he did not say on his own initiative; but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”
Stedman: Free will is a very inadequate vehicle to carry out the divine program. It does not see enough. Although Caiaphas himself was a scalawag — an unprincipled, ruthless unbeliever — because he was the high priest, his office made him a prophet, and God spoke through him anyway. This is a remarkable description that John gives us of how God can use men even against their will and without their knowing they are being used.
4. (:53) Evil Conspiracy
“So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.”
Deffinbaugh: These words of the High Priest and the decision of the Sanhedrin are amazing. They are almost beyond belief. Jesus has just raised a man from the dead, and so they decide the best way to counteract our Lord’s ministry is to kill Him, the One who is life. Teenagers today would say, in response to these words, “H e l l o …” Others would suggest that these Jews might do well to “wake up and smell the coffee.” These people are so threatened, so much in a state of panic, that they are not thinking clearly at all. The best way to be rid of one who can raise the dead is to put Him to death? Hmmm … Am I missing something? Are they missing something?
II. (:54-56) TWO VENUES – CONFLICTING TENSION – WAITING ON GOD’S TIMING
A. (:54) Private – Personal Protection / Private Ministry
“Jesus therefore no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.”
B. (:55-56) Public – Obligatory Observance / Public Ministry
“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover, to purify themselves. Therefore they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another, as they stood in the temple, ‘What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?’”
(:57) CONCLUSION: JUDAISM’S MOST WANTED
“Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.”
cf. America’s Most Wanted TV show; cf. FBI Most Wanted list