Utah Valley Church

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45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him. (John 11:45-57)

Belief in Jesus or believe about Jesus?

Earlier in this chapter we witnessed how Jesus, the resurrection and the life, resurrected Lazarus who had been dead four days. There were numerous people who witnessed this unmistakable miracle. Verses 45-46: Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. (John 11:45-46) So here you have a divided response. These people were all eyewitnesses to this miracle. They all believed that Jesus was physically present. They all believed that Jesus actually raised Lazarus from the dead, but they didn’t all believe in Jesus. Belief that Jesus actually existed doesn’t amount to much on it’s own. Belief that Jesus has the power to raise the dead doesn’t amount to much on it’s own either. Both groups of people believed both of these facts.

Having some accurate views about Jesus is important, but only if it accompanies a true belief in Jesus. Ask yourself these questions: Have my sins (past, present and future) been forgiven by God? How do I know this? Am I confident that if I died today I have eternal life? How do I know this? If you answer ‘no’ to these question then your belief is not truly in Jesus as your savior. It means that your belief is in yourself or something else to save you and forgive you, but not in Jesus. 

Jerusalem, we have a problem!

So, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and some of the people believed in Jesus, but some ran to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. This created quite the stir in Jerusalem. Verse 47: So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. (John 11:47) They’ve actually gathered the Sanhedrin, which is the Supreme Court of the Jewish nation. This case about Jesus has become much more than a blasphemer calling himself God. It has become a high level federal case.

The motive of this council is not to find truth, but survival. They see Jesus as a threat to their nation. They fear that he could be their downfall. They think that if more and more people believe in Jesus that it will lead to a Zionist rebellion against the Roman Empire. Look at verse 48: They said, If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:48) They’re afraid the people will try to make Jesus king over the Jews declaring Israel’s sovereignty and the Romans will come and crush them in response. So, they begin to devised a plan.

The plan: Substitution

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” (John 11:49-50) Ciaphas is concerned that the entire nation is at risk of perishing. He’s saying, You guys don’t get it. The only solution is that Jesus must die in place of the people. Kill Jesus and save the people. 

Ciaphas isn’t thinking in spiritual terms, he’s thinking talking about literal physical preservation. So he presents a plan to sacrifice Jesus in order to save the nation from the wrath of the Romans. Look at verse 53: So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. (John 11:53)

The sovereignty of God

The Jews made plans to kill Jesus, but it wasn’t really their plan. Caiaphas said, “…it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” But look at verse 51. He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, (John 11:51) 

This reminds me of the story of Joseph in Genesis. His brothers hated him and sold him to Ishmaelite slave traders. Out of slavery, God caused Joseph to rise to second in command over Egypt. Then He used him to save Egypt and surrounding nations, including Joseph’s own family, from a great famine. After Joseph’s father died, his brothers thought he would punish them for mistreating him and begged for mercy. Joseph was brought to tears over this and and said to them in Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

The lesson is that God is ultimately sovereign over all things. He has the the power to take things intended for evil and use them for our benefit. He can take the circumstances in which we can see no plausible positive outcome and use them for our good and his glory.

I personally believe in the free will of man. I also believe in the sovereign and free will of God which is great enough to execute his perfect purposes, not in spite of the free will of man, but through it.

Remember in John 11:5-6 when Jesus said that he loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus, so he remained two more days? The result was that Lazarus died. He let Lazarus die. It didn’t look like love. But look what it started in motion. He later raised Lazarus and that led to people telling the Chief Priests and Pharisees; which led to a gathering of the Sanhedrin; which led to a death sentence for Jesus; which led to the crucifixion of Jesus; which offered us forgiveness for sin and reconciliation with God.

Life’s circumstances often look grim and unlikely of providing a silver lining. But God, in his great power, is capable righting every wrong.

God’s plan to save the nation and the world

Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him. (John 11:57)

God has our back! While the Jews were planning to arrest Jesus and kill him in order to save the nation from the wrath of the Romans, God put his plan in motion that his Son would die in order to save the Jews from his own wrath.

This wasn’t a last minute plan by God either. According to Ephesians 1, God’s plan from eternity has been to adopt into his family through Christ Jesus. See, his plan wasn’t just to offer salvation from his wrath to the Jewish nation, but it was also to save those from around the world who would have faith in Jesus. Verse 52 says, “and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. (John 11:52)  See Ephesians 2:11-22.

Application

1. We have a problem—sin. 

2. God’s plan—a substitute.  

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:6-9)

3. Trust God that he is sovereign over circumstances.