Summary of passage: As usual, some believed in Jesus after Lazarus was raised from the dead and some didn’t. The Sanhedrin met and were threatened by Jesus’ rise. They would lose power and the Romans would take over. Caiaphas, the high priest, said it is better for Jesus to die than lose the nation to Roman control. They plotted against Jesus who moved to the desert near Ephraim with the disciples. The next Passover came and Jesus did not appear since he would be arrested immediately if he did so (and likely put to death).
12) Some believed; others were threatened by him.
13a) “What are we accomplishing?” “The Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
b) Part personal question. My answer: Not to lose power. Political survival. Be careful not to oppose God when you’re single-minded about power and driven by greed.
14) Part personal question. My answer: The significance is Caiaphas took this as a literal death to save the nation of Israel whereas Jesus did this spiritually: he died for the nation to save their souls not their lives and gather all God’s people (Jews and Gentiles) as one to Jesus. God is good.
Conclusions: I can’t imagine Jesus enjoying this time on earth where he has to constantly hide from the Pharisees instead of ministering to the people. It’s a good lesson for us. There are times in our lives when we just have to do the grunt work and times in our lives that aren’t pleasant but we must endure like Jesus. I think a lot of people picture Jesus just doing his miracles and then dying. They forget the day-in and day-out living that he did like we all do to get to God’s purpose.
End Notes: The people are divided and some went to the Pharisees. John either learned of what transpired during this meeting through Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathaea or someone who was on the council and then converted to Christianity.
Now the Sanhedrin admit he is performing miracles and is the Messiah. So now Jesus is a threat to them and he must be stopped.
In all four Gospels, the Pharisees appear as Jesus’ principal opponents throughout his public ministry. But they lacked political power, and it is the chief priests who were prominent in the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion. Here both groups are associated in a meeting of the Sanhedrin. They did not deny the reality of the miraculous signs but they did not understand their meaning, for they failed to believe.
People probably imagine the “what if” again. What if Jesus had lived? Would everyone believe? Maybe. But then we wouldn’t be saved. There is no “what if” ing God and His will. What happens to you is for a reason. Period. Move on. Don’t dwell on “what if’s” because they will never be. You can lament them. But you can’t change them.
“Our place” refers to the temple. It had become an idol to the Sanhedrin, thinking of it as theirs. It’s God. Always.
Little did the Sanhedrin know that history would take its course and the Jews would love “our place” anyways in 70 AD when the Romans did invade Jerusalem, scattering the nation, and eradicating the nation of Israel for almost 2000 years. And this had nothing to do with Jesus.
Caiaphas was logical but not moral. He was willing to kill an innocent man to save many.
Caiaphas was high priest for 11 years. “That year” is to draw emphasis to the year Jesus died. God overruled what he said here. His words were true in a way he could not imagine.
Now, the high officials are joining with the lesser officials to kill Jesus. Lazarus’ raising was the last straw to them.
Jesus retreats again because his time had not yet come. He was not afraid.
Now, we are about to speed up history and Jesus’ days are numbered. John jumps to a few days before Jesus’ last Passover. The chief priests are the Sadducees and they were often in opposition to the Sanhedrin. Not when it came to Jesus. Both were united against him.
Note of location of Ephraim: Ephraim was one of the original tribes of Israel but Jesus retreated to the town of Ephraim. Unfortunately, no one knows exactly where that is and I couldn’t find any maps. One could suppose it was located somewhere within this region. Map HERE
Who was Caiaphas? He was the official high priest during the ministry and the trial of Jesus (18-36 AD). By this point in history, the high priesthood had evolved into a political office, the priests still coming from the descendants of Aaron but being generally appointed for worldly considerations. When Pompey gained control of Judea in 63 BC, the Romans took over the authority of appointing not only the civil rulers but the high priests also, with the result that the office declined spiritually. Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, had been high priest by appointed of the Romans from 7-14 AD. In-between, three of his sons had succeeded him but Annas was still considered a high priest.
We shall see after Jesus’ betrayal, it was the house of Annas where he was brought and tried. Caiaphas then took a leading role in the persecution of the early church. Summarized from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney.