Friday, December 4, 2015

The Leaders Commit To Killing Christ

John 11:45-12:11

“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.” (John 11:45-46)

Many of the Jews who had accompanied Mary to the tomb and seen Lazarus raised from the dead believed on Jesus.  Others were more concerned with their politics and tradition, and went to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done. 

“Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.  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.

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.” (John 11:47-52)

The Roman Empire had controlled Israel for about seventy years, and for the last fifty years had been choosing High Priests who would cooperate in an effort to prevent constant uprisings by the Jews.  The various uprisings had resulted in thousands of Jews being killed.  The chief priests and Pharisees were concerned that they would not be able to control Jesus and his followers would become strong enough to draw Roman attention, resulting in another military action by Rome that might lead to the complete destruction of the nation.  Caiaphas, who had been appointed High Priest for that year declared it was better to have Jesus killed than to take the chance.  It would be better for one man to die to save the rest.   When he said it, he had no clue that Jesus was going to die not only to save Israel, but also the rest of the world.  For them it was a matter of political expediency.   

“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.” (John 11:53-54)

Because Jesus knew how determined they were to kill him, he no longer made public appearances, but went northwest to the City of Ephraim, right on the edge of a wilderness area in Samaria,that most Jews would avoid.   It provided an opportunity to teach his disciples.    
“And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.  Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?  Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should show it, that they might take him.” (John 11:55-57)

This was the third Passover Jesus had gone to since he began his ministry.  Like many of the Jews, Jesus parents had gone to the Temple for the Passover every year, and most of them went early, to spend time making sacrifices and getting things right with God.   The leaders had given orders that anyone who knew where he was must report it so he could be arrested.  Knowing this, many people wondered if Jesus would dare come to the feast. 

“Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.  There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.” (John 12:1-3)

Six days before Passover, on Friday, Jesus returned to Bethany.  Martha had prepared supper for them and Lazarus sat at the table to eat with the disciples.  While Martha was serving the meal, Mary took a very expensive lotion made of spikenard and rubbed it on His feet, using her own hair to wipe off the excess. 

“Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?  This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” (John 12:4-6)

Judas had been with the other disciples for a while, and they made him their treasurer.  A year before, in John 6:70-71, we find Jesus knew Judas was only pretending.  “Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.”  The other disciples had no clue, but after Judas betrayed Jesus, John remembered this incident and understood.   Judas was not interested in helping the poor, nor did he care about Jesus.  He just wanted them to donate the money to a charitable fund where he could get control of it.  Judas’ attitude was much like that of many modern Liberals.     

“Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.  For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.” (John 12:7-8)

Jesus quickly stopped Judas before he could stir up resentment against Mary.  He pointed out there will always be poor people who need help in this world, and sometimes it is more important show our love for those we care about than to help the poor, especially since there is no way we can completely eliminate poverty anyway.   There must be a balance, because the War on Poverty is doomed to fail.     

“Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.  But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.” (John 12:9-11)

Lazarus and his sisters had already been well known in the area, but story of Lazarus being raised from the dead had circulated throughout the region, and many came to see him.   As a result, it quickly became public knowledge that Jesus was there.   The Jewish leaders decided Lazarus would also have to be killed because his story was causing so many to believe in Jesus.  If he were dead, they hoped the story would be forgotten.   

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