“It is better for you.” (John 11:50)

Like missing a new exit ramp on a familiar highway, the high priest Caiaphas was about to miss the new work God was doing in Jesus. Both he and Jesus began well, with a deep respect for the Temple and the Law of Moses. As part of a priestly family, Caiaphas or a rel­ative may have presided when Joseph and Mary presented their infant son at the Temple. Perhaps he was acquainted with or even among those who, a dozen years later, marveled at the understanding of the boy Jesus in the Temple. Yet now we find Caiaphas seeing Jesus as a threat and plotting his death. When did their paths diverge?

Caiaphas fiercely protected the rights of occupied Israel. In fact, he was so concerned about the Roman threat that all he could see in Jesus was a man whose wild popularity among the Jews risked moving the Romans to tighten their grip. And so in one of the most ironic statements in the Gospel of John, Caiaphas gave a clear, prophetic pronouncement: “It is better for you that one man should die instead of the people” (John 11:50).

Yes, it is far better for one man— this holy man, this Son of Man—to die rather than risk further loss and humiliation for the whole people of God. Yes, it is good that this one man—this pure, innocent, wonder­working man—give up his life so that his people can receive the fulfill­ment of their covenant with God.

There are many other ironies in the Christian life. For instance, Jesus tells us that the meek and lowly will inherit the earth. Or Paul tells us that God is at his most powerful when he uses our weaknesses. Or Mary tells us how God has cast the mighty from their thrones only to lift up the lowly. Over and over again, we see God working in ways that seem illog­ical, even foolish—ways that in the end prove to be very wise indeed.

So whenever you find yourself thinking like Caiaphas—whenever you catch yourself trying to get rid of Jesus for the sake of some peace and quiet—watch out! Because God just may be planning something very big for you.

“Holy Spirit, I never want to underestimate your grace. Open my eyes to see your hand at work in unexpected places.”

Ezekiel 37:21-28;

(Psalm) Jeremiah 31:10-13