John 11: 45-57: Stranger than fiction!
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 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.”49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.54 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.55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 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?” 57 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. NIV
Truth is stranger than fiction, and it is regularly less popular.
So Jesus had raised Lazarus from the grave, and you would think that by doing that He would blow away all doubts and convince every sceptic; that He would triumphantly carry all before Him and win the day. All opponents would step up out of their trenches waving white flags. It would be ‘game over’ for unbelief.
But that is not the situation you find here.
Rather, the division over Jesus continues (45, 46). It remains the same today. Compelling evidence (as we might regard it) of Christ’s reality and divinity will only serve to make some people dig their heels in all the more. In fact there will be those who actually choose to align themselves with forces violently opposed to Jesus rather than bow the knee to Him. It’s like they see this huge aircraft coming towards them which has the firepower to blow all of their unbelief out of the water. Yet they keep blasting away at the aeroplane with their canons, even though they cannot hope to bring it down.
The fact is that certain people are just not interested in truth claims (47, 48). Whether or not Christianity is true is not of paramount importance. Their big question is, ‘How does this affect me?’ And if they perceive that their vital interests will be adversely impacted, they just don’t want to know. So, it’s not mainly a question of, ‘Is this message true?’ Rather, it’s a case of, ‘Will my life have to change?’ If the answer is ‘Yes’, in some way or other they will line up with those who plot to remove Jesus.
Jealousy and fear ruled the hearts of these spiritual leaders – not a desire to know the truth. The unintended prophecy from Caiaphas is also quite remarkable:
‘ ”Can’t you see that it’s to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?” He didn’t say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God’s exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people (50-52).’ The Message.
In saying that it was expedient that one man should die instead of the whole nation, this hardened, powerful religious leader was unconsciously prophesying the substitutionary death of Jesus – a death that would lead to worldwide salvation (see 10:16).
So we see yet again that, in spite of the severe hostility surrounding Jesus, God is in control. Our God reigns!
Prayer: ”Saved by grace alone; this is all my plea. Jesus died for all mankind, and Jesus died for me.”