John 11: 45 – 57 The plot to kill Jesus
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
Why would you not be convinced by the raising of a dead man to life? I suppose there’s always ‘wiggle room’ for disbelief. If you hadn’t been present until after the committal you might think that perhaps Lazarus wasn’t actually dead when he was placed in the tomb. When something conflicts with our world-view, we seize on any details to shore up our position. It’s still commonplace now; look at the prevalence of ‘fake news’.
At all events, the Pharisees were told, and they called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. (In fact, as the Great Sanhedrin sat every day, it would probably be more accurate to say that they raised the subject at a meeting of the Sanhedrin)
‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.’
According to St John, most of the Sanhedrin didn’t know what to do. They knew what the risks were – ‘the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation,’ but they didn’t know what to do about it.
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realise that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’
Those who had been involved in disputes with Jesus would have known of several occasions when attempts had been made to stone him to death. Caiaphas, though, puts it into words. One man must die for the people. If Jesus’ movement got out of hand and became a revolutionary organisation, the Romans would crush them and destroy the nation.
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
St John tells us that what Caiaphas said was prophecy. God was still speaking through his chosen people about his plan for the world. But as well as prophecy, it crystallised the will of the Sanhedrin that Jesus should die. “So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”
Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
Jesus’ time had nearly come. He withdraws to Ephraim, not to try to avoid death, but to ensure that the timing of his death is according to God’s plan.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, ‘What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?’ But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.
Everything is ready. When the time is right Jesus will enter Jerusalem and God’s plan of salvation will reach its climax.
Thank you for Jesus’ obedience to your plan. Please help me to copy his obedience.
In Jesus name, Amen