The Unexpected Prophecy: 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 BibleGateway.com!

One of the most amazing statements included in all the gospels comes from an amazingly unlikely source. While this statement is incredibly surprising, I am a little surprised that only John chose to include it in his gospel. This statement is made by one of Jesus’ most notable opponents, and part of me wonders if this opponent actually realized the extra layer of meaning that his statement had.

Following Jesus resurrecting Lazarus from the dead, some of those present for this miracle went and notified the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem about what happened. These leaders then get into a discussion about what they should do because Jesus is becoming too popular. Perhaps not everyone in this council was in agreement and to break the stalemate that may have been present, one of them speaks up.

John describes this by saying, “One of them, named Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year, said, ‘What fools you are! 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?’” (v. 49-50)

On the surface, this statement sounds reasonable, and it can easily be understood to be a statement against Jesus. Caiaphas was basically saying that it would be better for Jesus to die than for the whole nation to be wiped out.

But in the way he says these words, Caiaphas allows for a double meaning – and perhaps even one that he was not aware of at the time. John picks up on this, and so that his readers won’t miss the significance of this statement, John immediately explains this significance. “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, and not only for them, but also to bring together into one body all the scattered people of God.” (v. 51-52)

In this statement is an amazing prediction of Jesus’ ultimate mission to earth. While the religious leaders determined it would be better for them if Jesus was to die, little did they know the enormous truth that they set out to accomplish. Not only would Jesus’ death be better for them, but Jesus’ death would open up salvation to all people. The religious leaders’ vision was much smaller than Jesus’ vision of His mission – but their vision was large enough to help Jesus fulfill what He came to accomplish.

Ultimately this tells me that God can use what I say and what I do in His grand plan. I don’t have to worry about if I mess up because when it happens, God is not surprised. God has an infinite number of ways of fixing or minimizing the mistake; God is capable of weaving all our mistakes into a tapestry that shows us His love and grace; and no matter if I am for God or against Him, everything I do can be used by Him as a part of His great story called history.

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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