Scripture Text: John 11:46-53
Question of the Day: What goes through minds of wicked people when they see a fantastic miracle?
As Jesus’ ministry unfolded there were many reactions to His miracles from various people: some gave praise and glory to God; some were so excited that they told everyone; some were to go home and tell people what great things that God had done for them; and some, like the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, had a surly rotten attitude and not a word of thanks to Jesus. What was the reaction of some of those who witnessed Lazarus’ being raised from the dead? And what do we learn about the wicked heart of man after a great miracle has taken place?
Here is today’s text: “But some of the Jews immediately left and reported to the Pharisees what Jesus had done. Then they convened the Sanhedrin Council with the chief priests, saying: ‘What are we going to do? This Man is doing so many miracles, why if we let Him go, everyone will believe in Him and the Roman government will come and take away our land and disband our nation.’ One of them named Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year, said to them, ‘what you need to understand is this: it is necessary for us that one Man must die for the masses so that the whole nation won’t have to be destroyed.’ Now he didn’t speak this of his own knowledge, but, being the high priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus would die in the place of the whole nation, and that He would then gather together in one body all of the children of God who are scattered all over the world. From that statement, and from that day on, they plotted together how they could put Him to death.”
There are always those around who don’t believe and who are there to stir up trouble when there is no trouble in sight. What is fascinating is to look at a dynamic miracle through the eyes of those who don’t believe: first, they were just looking for trouble. The chief priests and Pharisees weren’t at all concerned about the fact that Lazarus had been dead and now experienced life, but instead, they decided to get together to see what they had to do to stop Jesus from doing any more miracles!
They hated the Roman government, but as an unbeliever, they hated Jesus more. They were concerned about the wrath of the Roman government—but not the wrath of Almighty God for what they were about to do to Jesus. They were afraid that “all men would believe in Him”. If Jesus had been a threat to the Roman government, He would have been stopped long ago, so their flimsy excuse that the Roman government would come and take away their place and nation was just that—a flimsy excuse. It also is pointed out in their response that they were more concerned about their land and hanging on to their beloved nation than they were about a dead man coming back to life or accepting the King of kings and the Lord of lords as their Messiah.
Next, the high priest that year, Caiaphas, made a statement that is startling because it was a prophetic statement about how Jesus would die for the people, but how that His death would keep the whole nation from perishing—at least for the time being. (It is pointed out in this section that the high priest in those days served only a term of a year.) Can an unbeliever prophesy and get a prophecy right? If God can speak to and through a wicked covetous prophet like Balaam and also through his donkey, then He can speak through anyone or in any way.
It says clearly here that Caiaphas “didn’t speak of himself”; in other words, it was not his idea to say those words prophetically, but his words were used to get the Jewish leaders to carry out their dastardly deed in crucifying Jesus. Not only would Jesus die—according to Caiaphas’ words—for the nation, but Jesus would gather into one all of the children of God who are scattered all over the world. The writer John remembered that this statement had been made and now, years later, he recorded it for us to ponder. The bottom line is this: from that time on they had firm plans in place to put Him to death. The only thoughts they had about the Son of God was to “put Him to death”.
Each of their statements and John’s recording of those statements unveil the heart of man in all of its wickedness and deceit and godlessness. What a pathetic lack of concern for the man who had died! To them it was more important that they get rid of Jesus and stop Him than it was for a blind man to receive his eyesight or to have a dead man come back to life! Man’s heart is always being unveiled, and, whew, does it ever stink!
Prayer: Lord, we thank You for being so kind to each of us—even when the wicked heart of man is constantly being exposed in our world. Teach us to patiently wait for You to clean up this evil world, and, at the same time, to live a godly life before You in spite of the cesspool of iniquity that defines this world. Help us to have the right priorities and rejoice when a miracle happens and another person has been brought from darkness into Your marvelous light, and when they are transformed from death to new life—forever. Amen!