When one is the leader, people expect a plan of action.
That year the office of High Priest fell to Caiaphas. The news from Bethany made it impossible to simply watch Jesus; something demanded doing. The first step? –call a meeting, of course!
The Council Meeting
There was only one item on the agenda: Jesus. He had to be stopped! The miracles and the teaching produced an uproar. Too many people were convinced that He was indeed Messiah. That was the last thing the leadership needed. The carefully constructed status quo the leaders had built with Rome allowed them to stay in power (under the authority of Rome) and maintain their religion, culture, and customs. They chafed under the iron boot of Rome, but it could’ve been so much worse. Those armed Roman soldiers showed no hesitation to use their weapons should the need arise. Their horse-mounted officers were highly trained at the detection of behavior that might lead to trouble.
It had all been fairly simple: stay in the Temple; use the streets for processions and stay out of politics. The would-be messiahs and their bands were easily captured, tried, and executed. The leaders had to make sure Jesus and the Twelve suffered the same fate.
However, none of the pretenders had ever shown the ability to heal the sick, drive out demons, or command the weather, much less raise the dead! This Jesus could even freeze a squad of Roman soldiers or Temple guards with just a look. The Council must have a plan to get this man to the Romans!
So they had a meeting.
Stating the Problem
All good meetings start this way. Like reading the minutes from the last meeting, the case was set forth.
“What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 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.”
John does not tell us how much debate ensued. The combination of panic and ambition tends to make for long meetings. Caiaphas was in the chair so he let every leader who wished to speak talk until it all was talked out. This well-educated, richly bedecked mob could not reach a consensus. Caiaphas had known all along what he would do and when the time came, he presented his plan. It was a mixture of religion and politics—even then, a dangerous concoction.
Caiaphas began with an insult.
“You know nothing at all…”
A half-hearted protest tried to get started but everyone was out of fuel.
“…nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people,
and not that the whole nation should perish.”
He let this rationale sink in. He had the religious authority to declare it an act worship to destroy Jesus! He had the political acumen to make it a necessity for the survival of the nation. Caiaphas merged religious fervor with patriotic pragmatism. John elevates this plan to the level of prophecy. Unknown to Caiaphas, he was expressing the plan of God.
The Turning Point
From that moment, Jesus would no longer freely walk in Jerusalem. He and the disciples retreated to a wilderness village called Ephraim. As the time of the Passover drew near, people in Jerusalem wondered aloud if Jesus would appear at the feast. The guards and the agents of the Pharisees were ready should He appear.
Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 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.” And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now this he did not say 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. Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death. Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples. And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, “What do you think — that He will not come to the feast?” Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.
Lord Jesus, You are the Master of time itself. For us, events unfold in sequence that results in three-fold experience of time: past and present with expectations of the future. We are mastered by these things but You are the Master of them. When You laid aside Your omnipresence, You joined us in our time-bound state. In that capacity You reached a turning point in Your life on earth. You know what it feels like to cross a time barrier from which there is no return. You walk with me through my time with peace. Thank You, Lord.
Words: J. Wilbur Chapman; Music: Charles H. Marsh
1. One day when Heaven Was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was As black as could be,
Jesus came forth To be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my example is He!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried My sins far away;
Rising He justified freely forever:
One day He’s coming– O glorious day!
2. One day they led Him Up Calvary’s mountain,
One day they nailed Him To die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!
3. One day they left Him Alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o’er His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He!
4. One day the grave Could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!
5. One day the trumpet Will sound for His coming,
One day the skies With His glory will shine;
Wonderful day, my beloved One bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved