Delaying His Goal: John 11:45-57

Focus Passage: John 11:45-57 (GNT)

45 Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw what Jesus did, and they believed in him. 46 But some of them returned to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the Pharisees and the chief priests met with the Council and said, “What shall we do? Look at all the miracles this man is performing! 48 If we let him go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Roman authorities will take action and destroy our Temple and our nation!”

49 One of them, named Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year, said, “What fools you are! 50 Don’t you realize that it is better for you to have one man die for the people, instead of having the whole nation destroyed?” 51 Actually, he did not say this of his own accord; rather, as he was High Priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish people, 52 and not only for them, but also to bring together into one body all the scattered people of God.

53 From that day on the Jewish authorities made plans to kill Jesus. 54 So Jesus did not travel openly in Judea, but left and went to a place near the desert, to a town named Ephraim, where he stayed with the disciples.

55 The time for the Passover Festival was near, and many people went up from the country to Jerusalem to perform the ritual of purification before the festival. 56 They were looking for Jesus, and as they gathered in the Temple, they asked one another, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” 57 The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was, he must report it, so that they could arrest him.

Read John 11:45-57 in context and/or in other translations on!

When reading the gospels, I am always surprised at how informed Jesus was about what was happening. In John’s gospel, following Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, we get a brief glimpse of the Jewish leaders’ council meeting and their ultimate decision.

John tells us that, “From that day on the Jewish authorities made plans to kill Jesus. So Jesus did not travel openly in Judea, but left and went to a place near the desert, to a town named Ephraim, where he stayed with the disciples.” (v. 53-54)

Following the council meeting, Jesus had a target on His head. But Jesus was not surprised by this.

I am curious if Jesus’ actions and choice to not travel openly in Judea made the Jewish authorities believe that Jesus was not ultimately moving towards death. In their minds, maybe Jesus acted this way because He wanted to avoid death. After all, their picture of the Messiah did not involve that Messiah’s death.

But looking at the gospels from a bigger picture, we can see that Jesus’ actions likely were simply delaying His ultimate mission until the exact right moment in time.

Jesus didn’t just come to die. If this were the case, there were plenty of opportunities for Him to die all throughout His life and ministry. Instead, Jesus came to die a death on the cross – and at the specific time when a rebel could experience and accept salvation.

Jesus also wanted time with the disciples. He wanted to teach them and to help them understand what was coming. If at all possible, He did not want them to be surprised when He ultimately would be betrayed and arrested.

In these two verses, we can see Jesus responding in the best way that allowed Him the most time with His followers while also holding on to His mission. By delaying His death, Jesus opened the way for more people to have faith in Him, and He also kept the option open for meeting a rebel who would ultimately be crucified next to Him. Jesus’ delay allowed for at least one more person to be saved.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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