Focus on Jesus Series
The O'Heart Factor
Notes on John 11:1-57, 12:9-11
by Ed Vasicek
We are quickly approaching the final week of Christ's pre-resurrection ministry. The Gospels spend a lot of time on that final week, but the raising of Lazarus from the dead was the final motivation for the Jewish leaders to plot Jesus' death. Because this miracle was so great, many came to believe in Jesus.
Since Israel was under Roman rule, and since many Jewish sects had rebelled against Rome, the nation of Israel suffered from these attempts at rebellion. The Romans crucified hundreds of Jews to intimidate them and prevent future uprisings. The non-believing Jewish leaders feared that Christ and His followers would start trouble like other individuals claiming to be the messiah at that time. They were out to keep the peace. Even though Christís message did not involve rebellion against Rome, the priests and Pharisees would not get the "gain a following, start a rebellion" paradigm out of their minds.
The nature of Christís disciples didn't help. One of Christís disciples, Matthew Levi, had been a tax collector, working for the Roman government. Simon the Zealot, on the opposite end of the spectrum, had belonged to a Jewish rebel group. This organization, the Zealots, attempted to terrorize the Romans and make their occupation of Israel as miserable and unproductive as possible. But both Levi and Simon were now different men.
The following verses reveal the concern of the Jewish leaders. It is interesting that an unbeliever, Caiaphas, utters a prophecy that he did not fully understand (but John expounds its true meaning). Can God speak through an unbeliever? Sure. But the deeper cause for the Jewish leaders rejecting Christ was not fear of the Romans, but hard hearts. Stresses do not make us as much as they reveal what we are made of. A good number of logistical and philosophical problems distill down to spiritual problems.
John 11:48-53 reads, "'If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.' Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, 'You know nothing at all! You do not realize 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. So from that day on they plotted to take his life."
Christians who are well taught and serious about following the Lord seem contradictory, even today. When we share Christ with others because we are concerned about their soul's well being, we are accused of trying to force religion upon them or of saying we are better than they. Maybe being misunderstood means we are on the right track.
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA