John 11:45, NIV
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and
had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. 46 But some of
them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.


October 20, 2011
Friends and foes of Jesus. I wonder what percentage of the population
fell into those two diverse groups? I don't think there is any way for us
to know the answer to that one. The gospel writer says many people
put their faith in Jesus. We also know that Jesus was crucified when
the next Passover season rolled around, which would imply that Jesus
also had lots of opponents who remained unconvinced. Probably, then
as it is now, the majority was silent. As far as the religious authorities
were concerned, it was not okay to believe in Jesus. Any new converts
had to be careful and not draw attention to themselves.

Jesus, on the other hand, had drawn lots of attention to himself
when he brought Lazarus back to life. He seems to have invited this
controversy, thereby making it easier for both opposing sides to feel
more confident.

 

                                          John 11:47-48, NIV
47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the
Sanhedrin. 
"What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is
this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on
like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will
come and take away both our place and our nation."


October 22, 2011
A meeting of the minds. After all their previous efforts to silence Jesus
and limit his popularity, it was time for these members of the Sanhedrin
to acknowledge the truth--they were not able to prevent people from
believing in Jesus. After three years in the public eye, the popularity of
Jesus was still on the increase. Their efforts to diminish him had failed.

Did the Pharisees have a valid argument? Was Jesus a threat to their
national security? Why would the Romans care what the Jewish people
believed? Yet their authorities thought they had to get rid of Jesus in
order to save their nation from being destroyed by the Romans.

First, they mentioned their own positions within the minority community;
they would lose their power and influence. Then they were concerned
about the whole, their fellow Jews who lived in their native land, now
occupied by the Romans. If they wanted to get along with the Romans,
no one in their nation must attract undue attention. Against this backdrop, 
Jesus was causing trouble, stirring up emotions, and pitting one Jew
against another.

At the crucifixion of Jesus, Pilate ordered a sign be made and attached
to his cross reading, "The King of the Jews." Probably meant to be a
scoff at these unusual people. But it is evidence that the Roman
leadership had heard the rumors about Jesus being more than just
an ordinary human being.

 

                                           John 11:49-52, NIV
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that
year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize
that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that
the whole nation perish." 51 He did not say this on his own, but
as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for
the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for
the scattered children of God, to bring them together and
make them one.


October 29, 2011
If Jesus was a threat to their national security, then he must certainly
be put to death. They didn't know any other way to stop him. Better for
one person to die than for the whole nation to perish. That is a
reasonable statement; most people would agree.

John not only quotes this summary statement of Caiaphas, he adds
some commentary. John interpreted these words as inspired, telling
before it happened, that Jesus would die not only for the Jewish people
living in Palestine, but also for all children of God (his "other sheep")
wherever they lived. Predicting unity, everyone coming together
(into one sheepfold), through the death of Jesus. I think Caiaphas
would have been horrified by this interpretation.

John believed the role of high priest was greater than any one man
who held that office. Whatever Caiaphas thought he was saying didn't
matter to John who claimed his utterance was given to him from God.

None of the other gospels mention this meeting of the Sanhedrin, nor
the "prophetic" words.

 

                                          John 11:53-54, NIV
53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life. 54 Therefore
Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead
he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called
Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.


October 30, 2011
With a death sentence hanging over his head, Jesus went into hiding.
And for good reason. It sounds like the members of the Sanhedrin
became obsessed with ending his life and influence. They began to plot,
to make specific plans. How to do it without creating more trouble within
the community. Trying to avoid those ever-threatening unintended
consequences.

Footnotes on the village of Ephraim reveal uncertainty about where
exactly it was. So we must stick with John's description--a little place,
bordering a desert area, a no-man's land where no one would find them.
That's where Jesus spent the last few months of his life with his
disciples. I wonder if it was in Samaria? Jews at that time seldom
ventured into Samaritan territory.

Thomas, in particular, must have been happy when they got back into
the countryside and the protection of the desert.  They had all been to
the capital city and returned alive and unharmed.

None of the other three gospels mention this time of seclusion either.

 

                                          John 11:55-57, NIV
55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went
up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing
before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they
stood in the temple area they asked one another, "What do you
think? Isn't he coming to the Feast at all?" 57 But the chief priests
and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where
Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.


October 31, 2011
Now begins the main event of Jesus' life--his death! This was the
Passover Feast during which he would give up his life. The time when,
because God so loved the world, he would give his one and only beloved
son so that all who believed in him would have everlasting life.

The gospel of John is 21 chapters in length. The first eleven chapters
cover the timeframe of Jesus' entire ministry. The remaining chapters
deal with the last week of his life. It starts with a mood of expectation.
People hoping to see him again, yet knowing it might be too dangerous
for Jesus to come to Jerusalem for the Passover this year. There was
chatter about whether he would show up anyway, possibly some taking
bets. Everyone seeking the opinions of those around them.

Overshadowing and probably adding to the interest is the official order
from the authorities on the Sanhedrin that if anyone knows where Jesus
is, they are to report that information to them, pronto. Everyone knew if
the authorities got their hands on Jesus it would be bad news for all
who had put their faith in him.

The religious leaders said they had to get rid of Jesus in order to save
their nation from being destroyed by the Romans. They were not able
to prohibit Jesus from performing those miraculous signs which he
called doing the works of God. Jesus claimed to have been sent from
God, even to being one with God. They thought it much more likely that
Jesus was in league with the greatest deceiver of all time, the devil.

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