“You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:49,50).
“It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish,” Caiaphas said.
To save the nation
Caiaphas was speaking politically, of course. You and I are allowed to listen in on this hastily convened session of the members of the Jewish ruling council.
One item was on the agenda that night. One man had been causing them embarrassment. One man had been robbing them of their honor and fame. One man had been destroying their popularity and prestige. One man had the potential of getting Pilate and Rome involved in a way that would not be acceptable or turn out well for anyone. And this one man’s popularity was rising, all the more because people in town for the Passover were beginning to hear about him raising his friend Lazarus from the dead.
If this continued, then Rome was sure to come in and squelch with a mighty hand whatever movement seemed to be ramping up. Rome wouldn’t take sides or try to sort anything out. It would shoot first and ask questions later. It would squash any threat to Caesar and the precious Roman Empire. Then taxes would go up and the laws would become even more strict and the punishments even more severe.
And the cushy little thing that the Sanhedrin had going there in the temple with the people and with the authority it was able to wield, even while the nation was occupied by Rome, would be gone. The audience it had with Pilate and the influence it had with and over him would also be gone. This man had to go. Jesus had to go. And Caiaphas didn’t care how or when.
Do you see what happened in that hastily convened session of the Jewish ruling council? The high priest had just given a Code Red. A dagger in the chest in the middle of the night. As many stones as it took in a back alley. An unfortunate accident on a high and winding road on the way up to Jerusalem. Someone do it! Someone do it soon! Make it happen. Make him go away.
We’ll all be better for it. Life will go back to normal. Everyone will like us again. Everyone will listen to us again. Everyone will follow us again. It would be far better that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.
To save the world
How prophetic. We know how prophetic because that was God’s plan all along. One for all. One in the place of all. A substitute.
One would be condemned: the Scapegoat. One would be sacrificed: the Lamb of God. One would be punished: the Whipping Boy. And the whole world would be saved. Jesus would die for Lazarus as well as for Caiaphas. Jesus would die for Peter as well as for Judas. Jesus would die for those who stood below his cross mourning him as well as for those who walked by his cross mocking him. Jesus would die for the thief who trusted him as well as for the thief who cursed him.
Jesus would die not simply for the entire Jewish nation but for the entire world. Jesus died for all because that was God’s plan all along. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
One man did die. God’s Son. One for all. One for you.
Author: Stephen Helwig
Volume 110, Number 3
Issue: March 2023
- One for all - 2023/02/24
- I love you - 2023/01/30
- Free at last! - 2022/06/30