Tuesday, May 31, 2005

John 11 - the danger of witnessing, and the prophecy of Caiaphas

John 11 tells us of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, where Jesus again showed his humanness, and his sharing in our emotions - Jesus wept. Note also that Jesus said: "Lazarus come out" when he 'called in a loud voice' into the grave... it has been suggested that had he not used Lazarus' name, all the dead in the grave would have come out!

But later in the chapter, we find two incidents of note. The first is the danger of witnessing. It was well known that Lazarus had been dead, after all, the professional mourners had been there wailing and crying for four days, until Jesus came and 'spoiled the party' by raising him! Bethany was close to Jersualem, and a lot of people had come out to mourn for him... so when they had heard that Lazarus was raised from the dead, they came out again, only this time, it was to see the proof of the miracle. Indeed, John tells us that they weren't only coming out, but also believing in Jesus!

And that's where the danger came in for Lazarus, a living witness of the power of God. Because the Sanhedrin, the elders of the nation, were becoming even more jealous of the standing and following Jesus was gaining. So do you know what they plotted to do in chapter 12? They plotted to kill him!

The second important thing that I noticed was the unknowing prophecy of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was High Priest, and as such, was the leader of the nation. They realised that if Jesus kept up his popularity, it could incite the crowd, which would lead to some sort of trouble, which would lead to the Romans coming in and establishing more complete control, which would mean the Sanhedrin would lose their own privileged position.

They plotted therefore to kill Jesus, reckoning that it would be better for the nation if he was done away with, as then, the nation would remain: ' "You do not realise that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." 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.' (John 11:50-52).

How accurate could Caiaphas be, without understanding the implications of what he was saying! Jesus indeed died for the nation, and for the scattered children of God. But Caiaphas meant it in a narrow, nationalistic sense, whereby their own privileges and state would be kept - rather, Jesus died for our sins, bringing us back to God. He died in the place of those who, trusting in him, will then not perish.

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