The Holy Spirit
spoke a prophecy and proclaimed the gospel through the mouth of the wicked
Caiaphas, a reminder that God works in many ways one hardly expects, and He
speaks through many voices one would never anticipate.
Messianic enthusiasm over Yeshua had been
progressively building in Judea. With each appearance He made in and around
Jerusalem, more and more people believed Him to be the Messiah. After the
resurrection of Lazarus, the enthusiasm reached a crescendo. If anyone doubted
the validity of His miracles, they only needed to travel to Bethany and
interview Lazarus and those present for the miracle.
Word of the resurrected man spread throughout Jerusalem. In their naïve
enthusiasm, some of those who had seen the miracle reported the event to the
The high priest Joseph Caiaphas, the other chief priests and Sadducean leaders
joined with Yeshua’s critics to call an emergency meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What will we do? For this man does many signs” they said. They convened to
discuss how they might avert a political crisis. “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” (John 11:48). “Our place” refers to the Temple
and the Sadducean priesthood’s control over it. “Our nation” refers to Judea
and the Sanhedrin’s legal authority over the people.
They fully expected the Galilean, as a contender for the title of king of
Israel, to eventually make a bid for power. It had happened often enough
previously. With thousands of enthusiastic, messianic zealots behind Him,
Yeshua would surely raise an insurrection against Rome who would, in turn, send
their legions to crush the rebellion and remove the existing religious
authorities from power. It was the only possible scenario that they could
them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing
at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man
die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.”
Those words invoked a proverbial
rabbinic maxim: “Better one life should be risked than that all should be
certain to die.” The high priest’s point was clear: Kill Him now before He gets
us all killed.
The Gospel of John takes note of the irony in Caiaphas’ words. He had
unwittingly uttered the gospel message: “Now he did not say this on his own
initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going
to die for the nation, and not for that nation only…” (John 11:51-52). That is
to say, God honored the office of the priesthood, and His Spirit inspired the