John 11:45-53 The Plot to Kill Jesus after Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead
Most of the Jews who visited Mary and seen Jesus’ miracle, believed in him, however some went and told the Pharisees what Jesus had done. The chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin to consider that if they allowed Jesus to continue performing miracles then everyone will believe in him and the Romans will destroy the temple and the nation. Then Caiaphas, the high priest that year told them that it would be better for one man to die for the people than the whole nation perish.
As High Priest he was prophesying that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation and also for all the children of God, bringing them together and making them one. Others agreed and from them on they plotted to kill him.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem sitting on a donkey people welcomed him believing he was the promised Messiah, bringing God’s Glory to their nation. As some gave glory to Jesus others were doing the opposite and planning to kill him. People have to decide if they are going to follow Jesus as The Son of God or not. He taught he is The Way the Truth and the life, accept that then the life journey is more joyful, more fulfilled, more loving and more rewarding but it also can be very hard.
Why did the Jewish priests 2,000 years ago decide to plan to kill Jesus?
What did happen to persuade the Leaders of the Jewish faith to reject Jesus?
What were the events leading to his arrest, trial & his suffering on the cross?
All of which led to Jesus’ greatest miracle on Easter Sunday, proving he lived after death and is our prize too, when we follow the truth by accepting Jesus as God’s Son and living to his ways.
In how Jesus lived, in what he said, telling the undeniable and sometime bruising truth made his journey to the cross inevitable as tradition and power had blinded the priests. The Jewish leaders over centuries; kings, priests and law makers had turned their society from God’s ways into corrupt practises so when Jesus taught God’s Word, the leadership weren’t prepared to accept him for then they would lose their authority.
Jesus’ accusations of the priests written in Luke, show why they plotted to kill him, certainly at the very start of his ministry Jesus caused the priests to disapprove of him. When he healed on a Sabbath they were furious and even then discussed action against him and when in Nazareth he declared he was the Messiah they attempted to kill him, they couldn’t accept he was able to forgave sins for to them only God had the authority to do that.
He told the Pharisees, he was Lord of the Sabbath and was the Son of Man that they didn’t know God’s law, nor follow his prophets. He said they killed and persecuted the prophets, concealing the ways of God and thus making the people ignorant of God’s ways so they weren’t able to live as God’s Word really was.
Jesus accused the priests of acting like children and not accepting John the Baptist. In parables like the Good Samaritan he insulted the attitudes and actions of priests, he stated he was greater than Solomon, Jonah and Moses. At a meal he tells the Pharisees they were full of greed and wickedness that they neglect justice and the love of God, wanting the riches of the world, seeking out the important seats in the synagogues because they wanted adulation and in loading people with burdens in how to live yet not helping them nor in living in that way.
Jesus often insulted the Pharisees by accusing them of being charlatans and frauds. He warns the rich not to be greedy but to share their wealth with the poor. When healing on a Sabbath he humiliates the priests calling them hypocrites, he tells parables undermining the knowledge they have of God’s ways. To those Pharisees that loved money he said their actions were detestable to God, to those who like being honoured or pray without conviction, they will be punished. Jesus compared people’s actions to Gods ways challenging the attitudes of the Priests.
After Lazarus was raised from the dead, and it being reported to the Temple the priests wanted both Jesus & Lazarus killed since the people were likely to turn to Jesus and they would lose their power, so a meeting of all the leading Jews was called. This was the Sanhedrin made up of 71 men, Chief Priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, political, legislative and judicial institutions, all having to know the Jewish laws. Their decisions could only be legal when meeting had a quorum of 21 members and of course we understand that only a few of the 71 members admired what Jesus was teaching and doing.
It is important to note these leaders recognised and accepted Jesus was performing miracles however he spoke against them and was undermining their authority. People were following Jesus rather than the priests for their traditions was being challenged and they had no real defence. If the Sanhedrin accepted what Jesus taught and therefore he had to be their Messiah then they would have to change their ways give him the authority he deserved and make him Their Chief Priest. This action was not acceptable and so their only options were to discredit or kill Jesus
They felt if everyone believed in Jesus then the Romans would destroy them, since Rome wouldn’t allow anyone to be thought of as greater than their Emperor. If the people did follow Jesus then the situation would become a threat to Rome and their diplomatic relationship with the Romans would be jeopardise. The Sanhedrin’s wanted to control the population and stop open insurrection which would allow them to remain in control of their own internal affairs. Their fear was that without their puppet King and their ability to keep the peace the might of the Roman army would annihilate Israel and the temple.
Caiaphas as High Priest saw himself as being responsible for the Jewish faith and knowing the history of the Exile he didn’t want that to happen again. He would have considered he knew the laws better than Jesus a carpenter without official training in Jewish law. After all the Levites had been caring for the laws of the nation for 2,000 years, he may do miracles but he didn’t obey the Sabbath laws as given by Moses. They believed the Messiah was to be a conquering King and Jesus was no solider
And so didn’t fit the right profile as someone to rule the nation and restore their land
Over hundreds of years priests had tinkered and changed the periphery of the law, so much so that they had lost sight of the core value of their faith. To the priests Jesus didn’t obey their law nor fulfil the prophases, as he didn’t reflect the teaching at the temple, so he couldn’t be the Messiah. Yet Jesus showed by his miracles that his power could only come from God, he had a depth of spiritual knowledge which couldn’t be denied and people flocked to hear him teach the Word of God. He told them they can have a direct & loving relationship with God, not needing priests. Jesus had an affinity with people which the priest didn’t and they were jealous of him
Jesus went on to say God lives in him and when we accept him as our Lord, he will live in us and therefore we would have God living within us too. All his teaching went too far for the temple hierarchy as such it seems Jesus was unlikely ever to succeed with the temple leadership. So converting the temple priests could not have been his objective, so what was it?
To find out we need only to look at who he picked in his team and who he taught. His team was made up of ordinary working men, fisherman and the like, all had a love and a commitment to God and were searching for a man of God to lead them. Jesus was that man and he preached to the general Jewish population who wanted to know about God’s love, his task was to bring people back to God’s ways, by telling them God’s Word.
People went to hear John the Baptist and Jesus since they could recognised God’s truth in what they said. The people wanted to know the right way to live by God, knowing they were after all his chosen people, they wanted to do the right thing, be forgiven for all the guilt they held within them. They also knew God was still punishing them for their constant disobediences to him else why would they have been ruled by Persians, Greeks and now Romans for the last 600 years?
The Jews were expecting a Messiah and in the previous years to Jesus appearing there were hundreds of so called Messiahs and the priests had to disregard them all. From the prophesies the priests felt no-one, including Jesus had the right criteria. When Jesus said he’s God’s Son, the Way, the truth and the light, able to forgive sin, this made him equal to God, so according to the law in Deuteronomy he had to die.
Deut:13:1-5 If a prophet, announces a sign or wonder, and it happens, then the prophet says, “Let us follow and worship other gods,” you mustn’t listen to them. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow and revere, keeping his commands, obeying, serving and holding fast to him. That prophet must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. Prophets who try to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded are evil and must be killed.
All this has painted the picture of why so many of the Temple priests hated Jesus, so much so that although they wanted him dead it should not be by their hands. Why not? Well as Jesus was so popular, the crowd could turn against them plus as Jesus did miracles they couldn’t take the chance that he was special to God, therefore if the Romans killed him neither the people nor God could blame them.
So now we go to the Plot by the Temple priests to kill Jesus. Jesus had stayed away from Judea since he knew the priests wanted him dead, but now he was in Jerusalem and already gone to the temple and told them he knew of their plans to kill him. Guards had been sent to capture Jesus, but as he spoke so well he wasn’t arrested. Then one of their own Nicodemus insisted that before condemning Jesus he needed to be put on trial so in keeping everything above the law, the Sanhedrin had to be fully involved.
Jesus knew they were plots against him when previously in Jerusalem but was called back by Mary because Lazarus was ill, When Jesus returned Lazarus had been dead for four day yet Jesus brought him back to life and this was reported back to the Temple. The Sanhedrin met and they feared with Jesus’ miracles, people would turn to him and it was then the Chief priest, Caiaphas states it’s better for one man to die for the people than to let the whole nation perish and so the planning to kill Jesus started in earnest.
The Temple sent out orders that anyone knowing where Jesus was must report it, he was to be arrested and yet when preaching openly in the temple no arrest came. Instead Jesus was asked awkward questions to try and discredit him but he handled them all. Before the Passover meal on the Thursday evening Judas goes to the Chief Priest and gives them the opportunity to arrest Jesus. This is carried out in the garden on the Mount of Olives with no crowd about
As Nicodemus predicted a trial was needed as Caiaphas wanted to use Jesus’ actions and words to undermine him as a Messiah. Jesus accusers needed to question him about the things he said during his ministry and so create charges to be brought against him that would incriminate him such as:-
• Declaring the laws of Moses does not need to be adhered to, for he healed on more than one occasion on the Sabbath, plus he did not pay temple taxes.
• By saying he would destroy the Temple, he would be desecrating it, then doing the impossible by building it again in three days it’s a lie and prophets don’t lie
• A Holy man wouldn’t associate with sinners, tax collectors, party & drink wine
• Jesus did not accept the authority of the Chief Priest
• Inciting people to riot against the Temples authority
• Throwing out the temple traders without any authority to do so
• Insulting the Temple priests on many occasions
• Jesus was in league with Satan thus enabling him to cast out demons
• He claimed to be their Messiah yet came from Galilee not Bethlehem
• A carpenter could not take on the role as the King of the Jews
• Jesus forgave sins which only God can do
• By saying he’s God’s Son he put himself equal to God and that’s blasphemy.
The Temple priests felt each of these charges were enough to put Jesus to death, however wrong they were Jesus must have understood them otherwise why suffering on the cross, would he say ‘Father Forgive’? The last part of the plot was to have the Roman authorities take responsibility, have him crucified as a criminal and thus undermine all he said and stood for allowing them to persuade the people that Jesus was a false prophet. Yet three days later he rose from the dead to continued his work of bringing the truth, the ways of God and the reward for eternal life for making him Lord of our lives
As we believe Jesus is God’s Son, then we accept he has told us the truth and that truth tells us how we should act towards God, ourselves and to others. When we look at how we live, can we see the proof of that in what we do? Do we use our gifts to witness our commitment to Jesus and Our Heavenly Father? Remember always we need to witness openly our love for God and his Son by using God’s Holy Spirit.