The Fallout — John 11:45-57
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 12, 2015
People have some strange ideas and then wonder why their lives are so messed up. “I am a god,” Kayne West sings on his new album. “I wrote ‘I Am a God’… Cause it’s like, ‘Yo! Nobody can tell me where I can and can’t go’,” he told W Magazine. “Man, I’m the number one living and breathing rock star. I am Axl Rose; I am Jim Morrison; I am Jimi Hendrix.” Michelle Pfeiffer recently revealed that she at one time believed humans could exist on sunlight alone. Fran Drescher reportedly thinks she and her ex-husband were abducted by aliens and implanted with electronic tracking chips. She talks about matching scars they share, noting the marks are from their alien encounters. Shirley MacLaine believes her ex-husband is a clone of the real one, an astronaut named Paul. For years Steve, his real name, conned MacLaine into paying him up to $60,000 a month for “Paul’s space travel expenses.” And then we wonder why so many famous folks have the fallout they do in their lives.
Jesus suffered all kinds of fallout in his life because of his words and his actions, and so did those around him as well or at least they thought they would suffer fallout because of Jesus. Let’s discover what happen…
In these last few weeks of Jesus’ life we begin to see that there was occurring a greater divide between those who began to believe he was the long-awaited Messiah and those who saw him as a threat to their way of life. These folks…
I. Feared their status fallout! (Vv. 45-48)
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
1. Jesus’ disclosure of who he was always produced two responses. For many of the Jews, the miracle of Lazarus being raised from the dead was clear proof of Jesus’ claim. In response they trusted Jesus as the Messiah. But others were only hardened in their sin or confused by what had occurred and so like little children wanting to tattle, they went to Jesus’ enemies, the Pharisees, and reported what had happened. This miraculous sign was so significant that the chief priests and the Pharisees decided to call an emergency session of the Sanhedrin, the entire spiritual Jewish hierarchy. The Sanhedrin was supposed to make sure that the temple was cared for, the priest were performing their duties correctly, make final judgments for the nation on spiritual matters, and they kept the Law. They were a council or more likely a tribunal. And they were perplexed at Jesus and his miracles. “What are we accomplishing?” they lamented. All of their plots and schemes so far had come to nothing concerning Jesus. They expressed their inability to solve the problem by continuing to do what they had been doing. Official disapproval, excommunication, and counter-teaching were not stopping Jesus’ influence. In fact, the fallout they feared would be threefold: people would believe in Jesus, the Romans would get involved and take their positions away and perhaps even the nation! They were only concerned for how the people perceived them and their personal standing and not in whether or not really could actually be the Messiah! These folks feared their status fallout!
EXAMPLE: Polls can be skewed to mean whatever one wants them to mean. It seems that whenever a particular group wants its identity or injustice to be forefront in the public’s mind, they conduct a poll to produce the support they think they need. While the authorities in Jesus’ day did not use polls, they were sensitive to the powers that be and how they perceived their ability to keep the public rabble in order. What the public thought was one thing, and they could be manipulated, but what the Romans thought was quite another thing indeed. Those in the Sanhedrin had enjoyed power and prestige. Lots of money was being made and priests were becoming very wealthy after taking office. Sounds like today’s Congress, doesn’t it? If they continued to let Jesus do his thing, not only would the people believe in him as the Messiah but their Roman masters would come and take away their power and worse their money! They feared status fallout!
Losing one’s status is one thing but losing one’s nation is something far worse for the Hebrew. They would lose their identity as a people, their temple, and their nation. We discover that…
II. They feared national fallout! (Vv. 49-52)
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “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.” He did not say this on his own, but as 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.
1. One of them, more embolden than the rest, a man named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year spoke up, “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.” Throughout the ages this is the demonic reasoning that those in control have used to excuse their suppression, abuse, and murder of others they do not like or disagree with. In their convoluted thinking it is better for one person, ethnic group, or opposition to suffer abuse, murder, or extinction in order to preserve their way of life. Jesus would just have to die to protect the Sanhedrin’s way of life. Originally the high priest held his position for a lifetime, but the Romans were afraid of letting a man gain too much power. So the Romans appointed high priests at their convenience. Caiaphas had the office from AD 18 to 36. Interestingly their concern over Jesus did not stop the Jewish nation from following false prophets into a revolt against Rome which ended with the complete destruction of the Jewish nation and its temple. Now unbeknownst to Caiaphas, he was uttering prophecy. John writes that Caiaphas “did not say this on his own, but as 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.” The socialistic political principle that a public good ought to be preferred to a private one is still being disputed today! Jesus would indeed die for the Jewish nation and for the entire world. As John would later write, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2 NIV) Their problem was a myopic one, they feared national fallout!
EXAMPLE: National leaders in our day fear their own national fallout if they dare take a stand for righteousness’ sake. The recent Supreme Court ruling concerning gay marriage has no precedence in Constitutional law. No one has the right to marry and marriage has always been defined as between one man and one woman, this is why in 1876 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believing that the law unconstitutionally deprived them of their First Amendment right to freely practice their religion, lost before the Supreme Court. Gay marriage has always been seen as anti-societal and anti-familial. While gays make up less than 2 percent of the entire population, political correctness has dominated our political scene and influenced the Supreme Court, where two of the justices are gay themselves. Like the Jews of Jesus’ day, few political leaders today will stand for righteousness because they fear the national fallout.
And just like today when a politician is cornered on a specific subject, they try to defer their response or blame others for their problems. This was the case with Jesus and the Sanhedrin. We discover…
III. They wanted Jesus’ personal fallout! (Vv. 53-57)
So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the Feast at all?” But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.
1. The only answer these ungodly folks could come up with was to scheme and plot to take Jesus’ life! Wow, they approved of murder! This is just as true today as it was then. When ungodliness comes face-to-face with Jesus it seeks to destroy Jesus and his followers rather than consider its own ungodliness. It can’t be our problem; it must be your fault for our ungodliness! In today’s world folks can’t get away with murder so instead they sue you into oblivion and claim personal persecution while they discriminate against your beliefs! The result was that “Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.” This out of the way place allowed for quiet and a place where they could leave if the threat to Jesus became too great. John tells us that “When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover.” Here we find that Jesus’ time was coming closer to its finality and interestingly the time for personal cleansing had come because of the Passover. Jewish pilgrims went up to the Passover feast at Jerusalem and looked for Jesus. He had often attended the festivals before. Knowing that a hit, so-to-speak, had been given on Jesus, the people asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the Feast at all?” We also discover that the authorities wanted someone to betray Jesus and John writes that “the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.” They wanted Jesus’ personal fallout!
EXAMPLE: When people ignore God they will suffer the consequences of their disrespect. For thousands of years the Hebrew people were warned over and over again about the consequences of ignoring God. They continually suffered as a nation and people because of their disobedience. They wanted Jesus’ personal fallout! God warned his people early on, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse–the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 NIV) People who place themselves before God will not be remembered. Jesus declared, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.” (Luke 11:43-44 NIV) They would suffer for wanting Jesus’ personal fallout!
These folks feared their status fallout! The problem was a myopic one, they feared national fallout! They would suffer for wanting Jesus’ personal fallout!
This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.