John 11:45 – 53 – Caiaphas and Christ – a comparison

Caiaphas and Christ – a comparison.

JOHN 11:45 – 53.




The arrest, trial and execution of Jesus was carried out at the instigation of the Jewish religious leaders.


The times that they had tried to discredit him had backfired and made them look ridiculous. – the interrogation of the man born blind — trick questions about taxes to Caesar and marriage in heaven.


Now Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead – they could not deny the miracles; there were too many witnesses – indeed they had probably witnessed some of these miracles themselves – the raising of Lazarus from the dead was the last straw.


John 11:47-48 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.


The popularity of Jesus was alarming – a meeting of the Sanhedrin was called.

Sanhedrin – the high court of the Jews consisting of three type of members – chief priests, elders and teachers of the law – a total of 71 members including the High Priest who was the presiding official.


This council was delegated a lot of authority by the Roman but they could not inpose the death penalty – and they clearly wanted Jesus dead – hence the involvement of  Pontius Pilate.


Caiaphas – the High Priest.


his role – he was the high priest – as such he was the go-between between God and the people. He was God’s earthly representative – he was the one who represented the nation before God –


He took the blood of the sacrifice into the Most Holy place in the Temple on the Day of Atonement – this was to signify God’s willingness to forgive sin in light of the sacrifice of a lamb offered by the High Priest. The blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, on the Ark of the Covenant – this was the place that symbolised the mercy and forgiveness of God.


Caiaphas became High Priset in AD 18 – and lasted until AD 36 when he, along with Pontius Pilate, was thrown out By Rome.


So by the Time of Christ’s crucifixion Caiaphas had been High Priest for at least 10 – 15 years –


He should have known that the blood of bulls and goats could not remove sin –

If he had listened to John the Baptist three years earlier he would have heard him say “Look! the Lamb of God who takes away the sin  of the world!”


his personal interests –

John 11:47-48 47 ………

…..”What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (NIV)


Clearly they were accomplishing nothing – in contrast Jesus was accomplishing much and many were following him — this was not in the interests of the religious leaders – this threatened their position and their prestige. If people continued to follow Jesus at this rate they would be out of a job – the temple “our place” and the nation would be under threat from the Romans – this was their reasoning


his pragmatic approach – Caiaphas was a pragmatic man –  if the nation was threaten by this man – to his mind – then surely the thing to do would be to remove him – after all the good of the majority, the good of the nation was more important that the life of one trouble-causing itinerant preacher.

– the conclusion was this –


John 11:49-50

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realise that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” (NIV)


Caiaphas was a rude man –  “You idiots!” –

Better for one to die in place of many!! – He had never spoken a truer word – he didn’t know how true!!


When he spoke, God was also speaking, if though they were not saying the same thing.”  [Carson]


Jesus – the real High Priest


What Caiaphas did not understand was that his whole role and office as High Priest was a sign pointing to the very one he was trying to have killed.

Jesus is the true High Priest – he is the real mediator between God and the people – in reality the High Priests , like Caiaphas could not really represent the people as they too were sinners just like the people they were supposed to be representing.   Jesus was sinless – no need for a sacrifice for himself!


Now at Jesus trial – it was more like a kangaroo court – Caiaphas came face to face with the real high Priest – Caiaphas was just a fleeting shadow but Jesus was the eternal heavenly high priest.


ILLUS.: A young couple in love are separated for a time and all she has is a photograph of her beloved – it is reasured – a prominent place on the bed side table –  even if it become old and tatty it is still treasured – The he returns – the Photograph is forgotten – the real person is there.


Caiaphas and the Jewish leaders were hanging on to the tatty of image of the OT system when the Beloved of God was right beofere their eyes but they were too blind to see!!


Every year the High Priest would take the blood of a lamb into the presence of God in the H of H in the hope of forgiveness – here standing before Caiaphas was the eternal Lamb of God who would take away all the sin of the world

— BUT Caiaphas could not see it.


He was blinded by his desire for position and prestige in this world. He wasn’t really concerned about the nation – he was concerned about himself – with no nation he would be a nobody – he could not allow this young preacher from Galilee to destroy all that he had work and schemed to get.


Caiaphas would go once /year into the H of H (the presence of God) – Jesus by His death would usher into the presence of God all who come to him by faith.


Caiaphas was trying to protect the Temple and the nation – Caiaphas was using sacrificial language – one dying in the place of many — his thinking was political ‘save the nation’ BUT John points out that his words would come true in a much deeper and more significant way than he ever intended


John 11:51-52

51 He [Caiaphas] did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. (NIV)


–within a few year both he and Pontius Pilate would be removed from Office but the kingdom of God would continue to spread.


The one who stood on trial before Caiaphas was the only one who could give to him the things he most desired

He desired position and prestige – he desired the unity of one nation under God – BUT he was thinking in an earthly way.


As a result of Christ’s death God offers us a position ‘in Christ’ – what is more prestigious than being called ‘sons and daughter of the living God’. What better group to belong to than to be part of God’s “Holy nation” – Christ’s Kingdom.


It was there in front of Caiaphas but he could not see it – his sights were set too low – It is easy to fall into the trap that Caiaphas fell into – many still do — to be so preoccupied with the affairs of this world and to miss out on all that God’s offers in his great High Priest.


Hebrews 9:11-15

11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

     /…for this reason ..

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance — now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (NIV)


Caiaphas was right, Jesus must die for the many – And because he died and paid the price that we should have paid we can enter in to all the blessings and privileges of heaven.


We don’t need to look to thhis world to find meaning to life – we won’t find it there we must look to the cross – it is only in the death of Christ that the true meaning of life is seen. Caiaphas could not see that – Praise God that he has enabled us to see it!


The price is paid. Come, let us enter in

to all that Jesus died to make our own.


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