• Dan Royster

In The Cross of Christ, I Glory #4


Political Expediency

Perhaps, we have all at some time watched a movie, and during that movie, a sincere and benevolent person in ignorance reveals information to an unsuspected individual or group that he or she believes can repair the situation or somehow bring about justice in an attempt to right a wrong. However, looking on, we know this individual or group to be suspect or part of the conspiracy and utter to ourselves or aloud, “No, don’t tell them! They are in on it (the evil plan or plot).” Such was the case here, “But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.” They had given away Jesus in a miracle that remained unquestionable and indisputable for they had witnessed it—the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

John 11:45-56

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. 47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. 55 And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.[1]

In the other miracles, Jesus did it is important to note that many of the people of Jesus’ day were superstitious. And so, many of His miracles were attributed to Jesus using magic, or some sort of mysticism; that He had concocted His own short drama with other actors, as most of His previous miracles had only the person on whom He performed the miracle, or perhaps a few others there to witness the ‘illusion’ Jesus had performed. But many Jews witnessed that Lazarus had died, and had been dead for four days when Jesus raised him from the dead. This particular miracle was indisputable and this is why the chief priests and Pharisees gathered; with this miracle and Jesus’ history of performing many other miracles, it became time to act: “What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.”

The Romans had allowed the Jews to live among them, peaceably for the most part, so long as they lived under the subjection of Roman law—the Pax Romana—without dispute. Under this overarching blanket of Roman law, the Jews were able to have and uphold their own Jewish law. The Jewish Council—the Sanhedrin—upheld Jewish law and were the ‘power brokers’ over the Jews yet, under Roman law. “The Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem was generally composed of seventy of the leading priests (who were mostly Sadducees) and the revered rabbinic scribes (who were mostly Pharisees), with the ruling high priest [Caiaphas, at this time] serving as the seventy-first member who would vote to break ties in the court. Accordingly, the Sanhedrin (the Council) was summoned to deal with the threat posed by such a popular figure.” “. . . [The] level of respect for Jesus among the people created a major problem for the power brokers of the Jews.[2]” Herein was their problem: “48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” Jesus was a threat to the Jewish leaders’ power and, ironically, they feared, the Jewish nation.

Thus Caiaphas, in his overtly arrogant character, posits that it is expedient—convenient and practical although possibly improper or immoral—that that One should die. Why? In the age-old argument, the ‘end justified the means,’ even though it was contrary to Jewish principles. In a more specific and contemporary argument: ‘The needs of the many outweigh the need of the one.” This phrase was used in the Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan, by Mr. Spock.

However, at issue is something of infinitely more significance. Yes, it seems here that the plotting of Jesus’ death is just about evil and the thirst for power and control. It begins with Caiaphas’ ‘wisdom’ at verse 49: Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” If one can look beyond Caiaphas’ utter arrogance, he can see that Caiaphas’ plan parallels God’s Plan of Salvation for mankind. Caiaphas intends it to maintain the ‘status quo,’ while God will use it to complete the need of a spotless sacrificial Lamb for all of humankind’s sin.

Immediately, we are given clarification in verses 51-52: “51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” Often in life, we see evil rear its ugly head and the ‘wheels of justice’ just cannot seem to churn out and produce at any pace near what evil can work within. But we must keep in mind that God is omnipresent—He is always present. We must consider God’s Divine Providence here and believe that He is always present no matter the evil or unjust circumstances taking place. Prophecies abound concerning a messiah to save God’s people. Yet, how would that messiah go about saving God’s people from their sins? God would allow evil to appear to reign in the situation, but He would use it to accomplish His Will. He would allow mans’ sin to put to death on the cross the Messiah yet, use this evil act to accomplish His Will of receiving the full price—the final Sacrifice—needed to redeem His people.

If you have ever had an IT (Integrated Technology) guy at your work or institution work remotely on your computer, it somewhat resembles God’s presence and Divine Providence. We know not from where, exactly, they are working from; we know not, save for what they tell us about themselves or what we know of them in our institution or business, who this person is. We only know, if we sit there and watch them work remotely, they are working around within our computer. When, and what action did they do that fixed—that changed our computer to definitely function differently now? Such is the Divine Providence of God here. How did God know forever-long-ago that He would use Caiaphas, in his disgusting display of arrogance, to contribute to the foundation of God’s plan to make Jesus the final sacrifice for sin? Yet we, God’s people must always keep this in mind; no matter how evil presents itself in our lives and our world, God is even present there. Evil may for a time win a battle, but God has already won the war.

In the final few verses of John, chapter 11, Jesus no longer makes any of His controversial appearances unto the Jews. Nonetheless, they wonder if Jesus will exercise His Judaism and make the spiritual journey up to Jerusalem to prepare Himself for the Feast of the Passover. The hope is that He would appear in public; that someone might inform the Jewish leaders where, exactly, they could find Him; and, “That they might take Him.” There is always enough evil in man’s heart to allow evil to triumph, for a time. All of the hopes of the chief priests and Pharisees are realized but, using their predictable behavior, ultimately, God’s Plan will be fulfilled through their actions and in spite of them.

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Jn 11:45–57). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. [2] Borchert, G. L. (1996). John 1–11 (Vol. 25A, p. 364). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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