A couple of weeks before the Jewish Passover, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. John, the gospel writer is very detailed about this event and in the division of the gospel it gets a whole chapter. We know what happens before Jesus arrived, we know the reactions of Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, we know the details of resurrection, we know the reactions of the people and then we know the reaction of Caiaphas.
The leader of the opposition is Caiaphas who was the high priest from AD 18-36. To the Sanhedrin’s puzzlement “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go like this, everyone will believe in him and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” he responds with arrogance and a condescending voice.
“You know nothing at all. You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.
John picks up that answer and writes:
He did not say that on his own, but as the high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation and not only for that nation, but also for the scattered children of God to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
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Caiaphas is a combination of unlikely components. Most of the historians tell us that he kept his high priesthood by bribing the Roman rulers. As high priest he was brutal in the way he treated the priests making them feel inferior by telling them that they knew nothing. He made himself the all-knowing priest. Yet in spite of all these shortcomings and excessive arrogance, God used him because of his priestly office to make this prophecy about Jesus Christ and the implication of this sacrifice for the whole world.
When Caiaphas saw the multitudes coming from all the areas of Judea and Galilee he must have been shocked. It looked like what the other priests said was becoming true. The multitudes were going after Jesus. The movement was increasing in size and if Caiaphas did not think that the priests understood what was going on, the people coming from Galilee knew even less. The first thing that the priests ask from Jesus is to silence his entourage to which He answers that if they will be quiet the stones will break forth in praise. Jesus continues later on in the day to remark that they did not know the day of their visitation.
It is a long week between Palm Sunday the triumphal entry of the Lord Jesus Christ and his crucifixion on Friday. We cannot be sure that it was the same crowd on Friday morning that demanded the crucifixion of Jesus, but we see how the priests managed to convince this crowd that the hailed King of Palm Sunday has to be crucified on Friday. Caiaphas has one more chance. Jesus Christ is now before him and he asks with an oath to answer if He is the Christ, the Son of God. (Mat. 26:63). The affirmative answer of Jesus Christ was blasphemy in the eyes of Caiaphas and they condemned him to die on religious grounds, but needed the authority of Pilate in order to have him crucified.
Caiaphas knew how to work a crowd so that all the things that Jesus was known for were stripped from him. The one who was gentle became an insurrectionist, the Son of God became a blasphemer and he who was the King of Israel from David’s lineage was denied his royal position and Caesar was made king over Israel. On Good Friday it looked like the strategy of Caiaphas worked.