Jesus' last Passover
Saturday, April 8, 2006
Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish."
He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
So from that day on they planned to kill him.
Despite his position as high priest, Caiaphas was a self-serving, nasty, jerk of a man. But utterly unawares, Caiphas spoke God's truth: that Jesus would die in the place of his people. John MacArthur writes, this act "elevated Caiaphas to the stature of Balaam's donkey."*
Before this third Passover of Jesus' ministry, during which he would be killed, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. In one final magnificent miracle, Jesus called on the people to believe in him.
During his first Passover, soon after his first miracle of changing water into wine at a wedding, Jesus cleared the temple of its moneychangers in a burst of angry energy. At the second Passover a year ago, following the feeding of five thousand with a few loaves and fish, Jesus resisted being made king by the force of the people (John 6:15). His popularity had never been higher, until he spoke of his followers eating his flesh and blood to gain eternal life. Even the disciples could hardly handle this ghastly image.
Jesus' ministry balanced miracle and preaching perfectly. Over and over, and in this case before each Passover, Jesus' miracles prepared the people to hear his words. He implored his listeners to believe the miracles, and to believe in his Father, and to believe in him.
Now Jesus is walking deliberately into the trap set by the Jewish council. Caiaphas wants to kill him. Even if only reluctantly, the others agree. Jesus' days on earth are numbered.
Lord, I wasn't in Jerusalem then. Now is now. Now I want to see you, to know you, to believe in you. Open me, Jesus. I believe. Help my unbelief.