Read John 11:45-50.
“[Caiaphas] did not say this on his own, but being the high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.”
~John 11:51-53 (NRSV).
These are astounding words. The high priest, Caiaphas, a very influential man and an enemy (typically) of the true will of God, has prophesied—without knowing—that Jesus is to be the Messiah, remembering that the Jews commonly thought they were getting a military or political leader as a Messiah.
The ruling Jews were growing very afraid of Jesus by this point. They’d witnessed his miracles—the raising of dead Lazarus (John 11:1-44) and the healing of the man born blind (John 9)—and they feared for what this would mean for their ‘place’ and their nation. So, something had to be done about this Jesus fellow; they not only thought this, they enacted a Sanhedrin-session to formally consider and rubber stamp the matter.
A Fatal Connection Proves the Prophesy of the Messiah
It’s interesting reading these three abovementioned verses. We can connect two concepts: that Jesus was prophesied as the one who would “gather into one” not only the nation but all the dispersion of God—over all known regions—but he would necessarily need to die to do it.
They had no idea they were pawns for God. That God orchestrated this admission by the instrument of Satan is incredible—but it’s true!
Gathering ‘the Flock’ – Both Jews and Gentiles
This prophetic word was Gentile-friendly. It is not too wild an assertion that God has put the words of religious treason (for a Jew) into Caiaphas’ mouth, recalling that the Gentiles were an unclean and blasphemous kind in the eyes of the Jews.
How amazing that the high priest would say such a thing; a comment most congruent with the Old Testament prophets. Even further astonishing that no one listening picked it up either.
The Importance of Jesus’ Death to Stop the Groundswell of Support for ‘The Way’
To say that the ruling Jews were threatened by Jesus would be a cataclysmic understatement.
For someone to not only be doing these signs and wonders, but also to be teaching so winsomely—a rollicking threat to the status of the Jews in Roman eyes—was a massive peril staring their destinies down into the dirt. If anyone was feared in Jewish eyes it was the ruling Roman force. Jesus threatened to upset all that.
What This Means for Us
The Gospel of John is chock full of evidence that Jesus is the Incarnation of God; the Messiah who’d come into the world to save it through his death. This account of Caiaphas’ prophesy propounds with resolute force into our minds the fact that he didn’t know that God had in mind to use him as an instrument of God’s revelation.
Like Satan, Caiaphas had double-crossed himself. Their plans were thwarted because God’s redemptive plan was anticipated before creation. No one wicked expects someone to sacrifice themselves and win. That is unthinkable.
We can not only cling to the truth of God’s grace—a truth so indelible none can escape it—we can also master understanding of the prototype of Jesus; that a sacrificial love will never fail.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.