Uncover Caiaphas' unexpected prophecy and its impact on Jesus' mission, revealing a deeper divine plan in Scripture.
John 11:51-57 — Divine Irony — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel. Today we will reflect on John 11:51-57. Listen.
[Caiaphas] 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 people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, 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 courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.
In the aftermath of Lazarus's resurrection, we find Caiaphas, the high priest, making a seemingly innocuous statement: "It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." On the surface, this appears to be a cold, calculated political move, sacrificing one individual for the sake of the nation's stability. However, there is a deeper layer of meaning, a veiled prophecy uttered unknowingly by Caiaphas.
Scripture states that Caiaphas "did not say this on his own [authority], but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation." This detail is crucial. Despite his personal agendas and flawed understanding, Caiaphas became an unwitting mouthpiece for God's plan. His words, though motivated by self-preservation, transcended his own intentions, hinting at a grander purpose at play.
Scripture then adds that Jesus would die not only for the nation of Israel but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. This phrase suggests that Jesus's death would not be solely for the benefit of the Jews, but for the reconciliation and unification of all God's children, scattered across the globe. It is unlikely Caiaphas had any idea how profound his words were.
Following his prophecy, the Jewish leadership plotted to kill Jesus. In response, Jesus withdrew from public ministry. This withdrawal was not an act of fear but a strategic move. His time, as Jesus would often say, had not yet come; when it did, he would be ready to go to his death.
There is a profound theological truth contained in this passage that Paul articulates beautifully in his letter to the Romans: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). It reveals how God can transform what is intended for harm into the ultimate good. In Jesus’ case, his death resulted in the salvation of many.
We can, therefore, take great hope from God's ability to use even the most adverse circumstances to fulfill his divine plans and not be daunted when we face them in our lives.
God bless you.