Harmony of the Gospels

 Perea to Bethany
(27) Reaction to the Resurrection of Lazarus
John 11:45-54


(John 11:45-46)  Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.  But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and that miracle brought results.  First of all and most important is that many believed on him.  However, there were others that did not believe and they went back to Jerusalem to report this incident to the religious leaders.  They should have believed, if they saw the miracle, but the god of this world blinded their minds.  Our Lord said previously, “…if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

(John 11:47)  Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

A special council is called to hear the reports of Lazarus raised from the dead.  You can see here that the problem for the bloodhounds of hate was not a lack of evidence.  His enemies said, “He doeth many miracles.”  They couldn’t deny His miracles. 

This is a bizarre group.  The chief priests at this time were largely Sadducees who were the liberals in that they didn’t accept miracles or the supernatural—which included resurrection.  The Pharisees were the religious conservatives and the political righteous of that day.  The two parties were absolutely opposed to each other in every way; yet here they join together in their hatred of Jesus Christ and in their determination to put Him to death.

“What do we?”  The Jewish authorities expressed their sense of helplessness.  They felt that something must be done; and yet what could be done; and yet again, for them to do nothing meant their ruin.  They feared that the people may be swept away with enthusiasm and do something stupid that would cause the Romans to grow suspicious.  They were afraid that Rome would send an army to put down any Messianic movement energized by Jesus' miracles, and that along with His followers they would destroy both their holy place and their nation.  What’s more, they didn’t want to chance losing their positions and prosperity.

(John 11:48)  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

The Sanhedrin became angry and they were afraid that if people continued to follow Christ, the Romans would think the Jews were planning a rebellion and would take their leaders into captivity.

Their thinking was all wrong, because first of all they had a wrong opinion of their own power.  They believed that He couldn’t go on working miracles, unless they let Him alone; as if they had the power to conquer Him who had conquered death.  Secondly, they had the wrong opinion of their own policy.  They imagined themselves to be men of great insight and foresight, and great wisdom in their moral predictions.  They feared the Romans would intervene against them, because of Jesus, however, the Romans had no jealousy at all of His growing popularity; for He taught men to give tribute to Caesar, and not to resist evil, but to take up their cross. The Roman governor, when He was on trial, could find no fault with him. There was more danger of the Romans’ being incensed against the Jewish nation by the priests than by Christ.

(John 11:49-52)  And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.  And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

The high priest, Caiaphas, shamed the group into silence with his reprimand, “Ye know nothing at all.”   And then, he laid out a course that was ruthless, but simple: get rid of the troublemaker.  Make Him die for the people so that the whole nation does not suffer at the hand of Rome.  Little did Caiaphas realize the real truth of what he was saying. Christ would die to save the nation spiritually, whereas Caiaphas intended Him to die to save the nation politically. It is interesting to note that although they did succeed in putting Jesus to death, in spite of this, the nation perished when Titus destroyed it in A.D. 70. 

(John 11:53-54)  Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.  Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.

The Sanhedrin had formally decided to kill Christ. Knowing about their plan, Christ removed Himself from the public view.  This is the beginning of the end.  They are openly trying to put Jesus to death and are openly hostile.  We don’t know exactly where the city of Ephraim is, but I assume it was out in rather wild country.

 

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