“Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 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. 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.” Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life. 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. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 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?” 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. Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. ” (John 11:45–57, NIV)Isn’t that ironic! The religious leaders sought to kill Jesus in order to save their nation. Yet, God would turn this misguided intention into the means by which the whole world would be saved. Amazing is it not?!
You see, the goal of the religious leaders, while under Roman rule, was to keep the peace. As long as they maintained the status quo, the Jewish community had been given relative autonomy. But as soon as they started causing a scene, Rome would not look so favorably upon this religious sect. The religious leaders appointed themselves as those who must protect the peace.
And along comes Jesus. To say He was causing a scene would be an understatement. He was drawing large crowds, performing miraculous signs and making some amazing claims about being sent by God. Just days from now, he would be ushered into Jerusalem with palm branches, a traditional welcome for soldiers returning from victory in battle. They would shout “Hosanna” in hopes that Jesus was the long awaited king who would deliver them from the oppression of a foreign ruler who served foreign gods. They were beginning to place a great amount of hope in this man Jesus.
“Too much hope,” was the opinion of the religious leaders. They knew that Jesus was causing such attention that it threatened the autonomy of the Jewish society. In order to keep the peace, they would need to eliminate Him. It appeared to be the only satisfactory solution. One man must die for the peace of a nation.
But that was too small. God knew that one man would die for the salvation of all mankind. God would take the evil intention of the religious leaders and turn it into the gracious eternal purpose of God. The sacrifice of Jesus, at the risk of the peace of a nation, would become the means for ultimate peace with God.
Even today, there are those who would embrace His sacrifice with an understanding of what it accomplished on their behalf while others would choose instead to push it aside in hopes of maintaining the status quo.
Where are you? Too often, we are like the religious leaders who would rather not make any waves and so we choose to live life without incident. Just keep the status quo. We see that a life committed to following Jesus may cause more trouble than good and so we “eliminate” Him by turning our attention to all that the world has to offer instead.
Without question, following Jesus is a risky move. He may stir some things up in your own heart that you might rather He leave alone. Releasing your selfish desire for control can be a painful departure. It will require everything.
“He who wishes to save his life will lose it and he who loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”