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Chief Priests and Pharisees
"Plot to Kill Jesus"
John 11:45-57 - Bible Study

The Plot to Kill Jesus

This strange group of differing beliefs 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.

The Plot to Kill Jesus

John 11:45-54

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 meet Him.

Those who had been mourning with her followed, and saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. The people then 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."

The Council, or "Sanhedrin," consisted of:

  • Chief priests who were actually ex-high priests.
  • Politically oriented Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection or angels.
  • Religious legalists, known as the Pharisees.

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."

Completely 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 in turn would be a concern for the Roman government.

The Romans accepted only one king, and that was Caesar. There would be 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 acquired a large following and became a political ruler or king, (which was against the Roman Law), that Rome would come down and squash the rebellion, and remove the authority of the council.

A glimpse ahead (to the crucifixion) reveals that, due to the provocation and lies of the Pharisees, the Romans put Jesus to death because of His claimed to be, "King."

The Pharisees did not have the authority to crucify Jesus, so they tricked the Roman's into doing it for them.

Pilate then gave orders for a sign to be placed above His cross in "Arabic," "Hebrew," and "Greek" that read, "King of the Jews."

However, this did not have any lasting benefit. In 70 AD the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple, and the Jewish nation was absolved. Afterword, there was no officially recognized Jewish Nation for over 2000 years.

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 life-long office, not an annual assignment. Caiaphas was high priest during A.D. 18-36.

It was customary to date events by " any given "Official's" term. In that light, John could have meant that Caiaphas was high priest in that particular year. 

Some think the Apostle 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 efficiently acquire control over the Jewish people and, not allow them to cause problems for the Roman government, could serve for many years.

This could also explain the harsh and cruel treatment they often levied upon their own people.

Regarding Caiaphas' prophesy, in verse 50:

Many believed that God's appointed representatives could prophesy and speak God's Word, (even when not intending to do so); they also believed the High priest could hear directly from God. 

Caiaphas' accurate prophesy regarding Jesus' death indicates that he did hear from God; however... 

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."

Many Scholars believe Caiaphas did not realize that he was speaking words of prophecy.

An indication that Caiaphas did not understand his own prophetic words, "Sacrificing the few for the sake of many," is that it 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.

Caiaphas' words, though far beyond his limited understanding, were prophetic. God transformed his words uttered in blasphemy, into a prophecy with deep meaning.

He did not know that Jesus' death would implement the grafting in of the Gentiles to the promises of Abraham. ("gentiles" as used here means anyone who is not a Jew) 

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, anyone who would accept Him as the Messiah and their Savior (Jew or Gentile), would become Children of God and receive eternal life. 

Verse 53: "So from that day on they made plans to put him to death."

From that day onward the highest most influential leaders in Israel searched for a way to cause the death of Jesus.

Verse 54: "Jesus therefore no longer talked 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."

Ephraim was perhaps eight miles north of Jerusalem, where a wilderness extends from Jericho to Bethel.

Once again, because it was not the appointed time for Jesus to die, it was necessary for Him to escape. However, this was the last time He would be driven out of Jerusalem. 

This concludes our study of "The Chief Priests and Pharisees Plot to kill Jesus"

Our study is nearing 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.

In Our Next Study:

"Mary Anoints Jesus for the Day of His Burial"


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