John 11:45-57: The Plot to Kill Jesus
Verses 45-47: "Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
In our previous study, Martha informed Mary that Jesus had
arrived, so she left her mourning position and ran to where Jesus was.
The Jews who had been mourning with her, also went and saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. These same people went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
Verse 47: "So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs."
Council, or "Sanhedrin," consisted of chief
priests who were actually ex-high priests. For the most part, these
theological liberals were politically oriented Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection, or angels.
The other members of the council were religious legalists, known as the Pharisees.
This strange group banded together and agreed to get rid of Jesus. They did not question the signs/miracles of Jesus; their concern was that many people were beginning to follow Him.
Rather than denying the miracles, they denied that Jesus was who He claimed to be, which was even more ridiculous, but in the following verses, they plot Jesus' death.
Verse 48: "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."
Totally lacking in Spiritual guidance, these
people relied on history, and history had shown that all others claiming
to be the Messiah had proven to be false.
This would bring instability into the Jewish government; which caused concern for the Roman government.
The Romans accepted only one king, and that was Caesar. There was a domino effect, and the Jews played this fact for all it was worth in their plan to get rid of Jesus.
The council members feared Rome and were concerned only with protecting their own interests. They feared that if Jesus got a big following and the people pushed Him into being a political Messiah; Rome would come down and squash the rebellion, taking away their religious and political authority
A glimpse ahead, to the crucifixion, shows that the Romans, through the
provocation and lies of the Pharisees, in fact did kill Jesus, because
he claimed to be "King."
If you remember, they nailed a sign above His cross in "Arabic," "Hebrew," "Greek" saying "King of the Jews."
The Pharisees did not have the authority to crucify Jesus, so they tricked the Roman's into doing it for them. However, as we will
see, this did not have any lasting benefit.
In 70 AD, the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple, and the Jewish nation was absolved. There was no officially recognized Jewish Nation until after World War 2 when it was reestablished.
Verse 49: "But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all. 50Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish."
The term, "High Priest that year," can be confusing. High Priesthood was considered to be a lifelong office, and had never been reduced to an annual assignment. Caiaphas was high priest during A.D. 18-36.
It was common practice to date events by some "Official's
term. In that light, John could have simply meant that Caiaphas was high priest in
that particular yea.
Some think that John may have found the idea so ridiculous that he was poking fun at the Roman governor, (who could exercise the change of the High priest at will).
A high priest who could control the Jewish people, so they would not cause
the Roman government problems, could possibly serve many years.
This could also explain the harsh, and even cruel treatment, often levied upon their own people.
Regarding Caiaphas' prophesy:
Some believe that Caiaphas, being the High priest, could certainly hear from God. We can see by his prophesy of Jesus' death, that apparently he could.
Many also believe God's appointed representatives could prophesy, and speak God's Word without intending to do so.
From the actions of these people in our previous lessons, we can certainly agree with his statement to them, "You know nothing at all?"
Verse 51-52: "He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."
Caiaphas' words, though far beyond his
limited understanding, were prophetic. God transformed his words uttered in blasphemy, into a prophecy with deep meaning.
Most Scholars believe that Caiaphas didn't know he was speaking words of prophecy.
Nor did he know that Jesus death would gather the Children of God from throughout the world, and that Jews and Gentiles would be unified in one body, the Church.
In truth, the "sacrificing the few for the sake of many", as
Caiaphas had said, was not a part of the Jewish policy, even to this day.
According to commentators, the Jewish teachers taught, that even in war or siege, a single Israelite was not to be betrayed for the benefit of others.
Verse 53: "So from that day on they made plans to put him to death."
From that day onward, the highest most powerful leaders in Israel schemed to designed a plan, to have Jesus put to death.
Verse 54: "Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the
Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town
called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples."
Here again, Jesus found it necessary to escape for His life because it was not yet His time to die. however, this was the last time He would be driven out of Jerusalem.
Many scholars teach that the Ephraim, spoken of here, is located eight miles north of Jerusalem, where a wilderness extends from Jericho to Bethel, (the "Wilderness of Bethaven)."
Verse 55 "Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves."
The Old Testament records many rituals of purification for situations that might be considered unclean; body fluids, skin disease, death,
animal sacrifices and numerous others.
In this case, purifying themselves was not to get all the dirt off. It was a, "ritual" that was required prior to certain types of activity, (such as the Passover Feast).
Jesus had been to the last two Passover's, so they assumed He
would be at this one, and were watching for Him.
The men were required to attend the Passover Feast, yet they were wondering if after all the hate and tension, He would show up.
John 12:1-11 Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany
Verse 1" "Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead."
Jesus had apparently left the city of Bethany after raising Lazarus from the dead, and had now returned. According to the Synoptics, the house where He was , was that of Simon the Leper.
Verse 2: "So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table."
Teachers were often invited to lecture at meals, in return for free meals and lodging. Jesus was often invited to banquets such as this, but this one was apparently in His honor.
Reclining: It was customary to sit at normal meals; and to recline, on couches at special meals, (for instance, feasts and banquets).
Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead, was reclining with his friends and loved ones. The people could see with their own eyes that his resurrection was no illusion, he was completely restored.
This appears to have been about two months after Lazarus was raised from the dead; and this is the last we hear of him. We are not told how long he lived, nor what he experienced during the four days of his death. Wouldn't that be interesting!
Verse 3: "Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume."
All the Gospel accounts place this occurrence in the last week of Jesus' ministry.
Isn't John mentioning the, "fragrance filling the house" a vivid eyewitness detail? It was customary to anoint the heads of important guests, but to only provide water for their feet.
A pound, or pint, as mentioned here, is thought to have been
around 12 ounces.
A flask would normally contain not more than an ounce, so some thought Mary was being extravagant. Scholars see this as evidence of the wealth and social position of the Lazarus family.
Spikenard (spahyk-nerd) was a perfume highly prized by the
ancients. It was produced from a small native plant of the
The high cost was derived partly from the transportation across the thousands of miles from India to Jerusalem. There were "cut" varieties of it, but what Mary used was the expensive pure nard itself.
Religious Jews resented women, who uncovered their heads and exposed their hair to men's gazes. Some believe, that since there is no mention of Mary's husband, she was probably unmarried.
Married, widowed or divorced, acting this way toward a famous rabbi would have raise eyebrows; but Mary's Christian love for the Lord was stronger than their criticism.
Verse 4-6: "But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5"Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it."
The pint of pure nard was probably a very expensive liquid
perfume, equal in value to a year's wages.
The complaint from Judas is in character with everything the Bible has to say about him; the implication is that Judas, being a thief, saw himself missing out on some easy money.
Do you think Jesus knew all along that Judas was a thief?
The rabbis would sometimes delegate their school's financial matters to their disciples, but only the most trusted were permitted to keep group funds. This was Judas' position, which makes what he did even worse.
Jesus Defending Mary:
Verse 7: "Jesus said, Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial."
Corpses were first anointed, (to clean them), and
then washed with water. Jesus was considered to be a criminal by both
the Romans and the Jews, and was executed as a criminal.
In that day, criminals were denied anointing before burial; so what Mary had done was very important.
Verse 8: "For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."
Many see an allusion in Jesus statement to Deut 15:11, "there
will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, 'You
shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor,
in your land."
He is not playing down the importance of taking care of the poor, but bringing attention to His impending death, and letting the people know that their first commitment must be to Him.
The Plot to Kill Lazarus
Verse 9-11: "When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. "So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus."
By now the people had all heard that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and, when they learned He was there, came to see both Jesus and Lazarus. Many saw the proof and believed in Jesus.
The Scripture relating to the "Chief Priests planing to put
Lazarus to death," is often referred to among scholars as, "John's irony."
Irony, in this case, being the opposite of what is expected.
So the Jews put out what, in our day, is considered to be a contract, on Lazarus.
When men are determined not to believe the Gospel, there is no
end to the crimes to which they are driven. Lazarus was alive, and the
evidence of his resurrection was so clear it could not be refuted.
It takes a twist of the mind to grasp, that the reason they wanted to kill Lazarus, was because Jesus had raised him from the dead.
Wouldn't you agree, that they had lost all sense of Spiritual guidance, truth and rationality?
This concludes our study of "The Plot to kill Jesus"
Our study is entering the last days of Jesus' life. John's Gospel will soon illuminate some of the richest passages and morsels of God's Word anywhere in Scripture.
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