So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. (John 11:47–53)
What happened on Wednesday of Jesus’s final week before the cross?
According to Matthew 26:2, “After two days the Passover is coming.” That probably means it’s Wednesday. We can’t be sure because fragments of days count as days, and because when Passover starts is reckoned in different ways. But it’s close.
The next verse says, “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.”
What did they say behind those closed doors? We get a glimpse of what they may have said from an earlier conversation in John 11:47–53. It is astonishing.
1) God preaches the gospel to the council through the mouth of Caiaphas. Jesus will die so that the nation might live — that is, so that all Jews who believe might live (John 3:36).
2) John adds that the atoning power of Jesus’s death will gather the “children of God” who are scattered among all the nations — “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also” (John 10:16).
3) This strategy to hold back the Romans did not work. In fact, it totally backfired. Jesus said on the way to the cross, “If they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” (Luke 23:31). That is, if the fires of violence in Jerusalem consume even the most righteous branch, what will happen when the sins of the nation are complete? Answer: The desolation of A.D. 70.
4) Marvel that God chose you to hear the story of the cross and believe — that you proved to be among “the children of God” scattered abroad. Give thanks that Jesus prayed, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me” (John 17:6). There is no happier gift than to be given to Jesus by the Father.