THE RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS
THE SANHEDRIN PLAN TO KILL JESUS
After Jesus meets Martha and then Mary near Bethany, they go to the memorial tomb of Lazarus. It is a cave with a stone covering the entrance. “Take the stone away,” Jesus directs. Martha expresses concern, not understanding what Jesus intends to do. “Lord,” she says, “by now he must smell, for it has been four days.” But Jesus tells her: “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
So the stone is removed. Jesus then raises his eyes and prays: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. True, I knew that you always hear me; but I spoke on account of the crowd standing around, so that they may believe that you sent me.” Jesus’ public prayer shows to observers that what he is about to do is by means of power from God. Then Jesus cries out with a loud voice: “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus does come out, with his hands and feet still bound with burial wrappings and his face covered with a cloth. “Free him and let him go,” Jesus says.
Many Jews who have come to comfort Mary and Martha see this miracle and put faith in Jesus. But others go off and tell the Pharisees what Jesus has done. The Pharisees and the chief priests hold a meeting of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin. That body includes the high priest, Caiaphas. Some of them lament: “What are we to do, for this man performs many signs? If we let him go on this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:47, 48) Though having heard eyewitness testimony that Jesus “performs many signs,” these men are not rejoicing over what God is doing through him. Their prime concern is their own position and authority.
That Lazarus has been raised from the dead is a real blow to the Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection. Caiaphas, a Sadducee, now speaks up, saying: “You do not know anything at all, and you have not reasoned that it is to your benefit for one man to die in behalf of the people rather than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”
In view of Caiaphas’ sacred office, God causes him to say this
Caiaphas succeeds in influencing the Sanhedrin to make plans to kill Jesus. Might Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin who is friendly to Jesus, reveal these plans to him? In any event, Jesus leaves the immediate Jerusalem area, thus avoiding death before God’s appointed time.
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