Reaction to the Resurrection of Lazarus
Mixed Reactions (John 11:45-46)
Many who saw these events believed in Jesus, but not all. A few went to the Pharisees and told them what had happened. The faith is not whether these things happened. No one doubted that Lazarus had died and was now alive. The question is whether it happened because of Jesus and the power of God. We see that no matter the strength of the evidence there will always be some who will refuse to believe.
Notice that this is vastly different from modern-day faith healers who demand that people believe that a miracle had taken place as well as claiming that it happened because of the power of God.
Council Meeting (John 11:47-53)
A meeting was called of the Pharisees and chief priests. Most likely this was a meeting of the Sanhedrin council. The leaders were frustrated because Jesus was persuading so many with the miracles that he was performing. They feared that they would lose their power as the nation followed after Jesus and the Romans, seeing what appeared to be a rebellion, then send in their army to destroy what little power they have left.
Caiaphas, however, gives a proposal. As we mentioned before when discussing John the Baptist’s ministry, because of the Roman occupation, the Jews had been going through many High Priests. The Romans did not care about need for a high priest who was a descendant of Aaron. They wanted one who would cooperate with their government. Annas was appointed high priest in A.D. 7 by Quirinius and removed in A.D. 15 by Valerius Gratus. However, Annas was an adroit politician, managing to get five of his sons and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, appointed as high priest during the years following. Caiaphas was appointed as high priest from A.D. 18 to 36. Despite the official position, it appears that Annas continued to hold power though he was not acknowledged by Rome. John 11:49, 51 and 18:13 mention that Caiaphas was “high priest that year” leaving the impression that Annas and Caiaphas either alternated terms or John was commenting that the high priesthood shifted so often that during the notable year of Christ’s death, Caiaphas was holding the office that year.. The problem arises from the fact that under Jewish law a high priest is a life-time appointment. The Gentile rulers made havoc with the system by replacing the high priests as they saw fit. Most likely from the Jewish view, Annas should be the high priest until his death, but they tolerated the Roman appointment of another high priest.
Caiaphas scolds his fellow leaders for not knowing what to do about Jesus. The best solution would be that only one man die instead of the whole nation. Thus he proposed that Jesus die for the good of the people. Such logic he was proposing was sinful because he was suggesting that by committing murder they would be doing good (Romans 3:8).
Unknowingly, God used Caiaphas as a prophet because he was the High Priest. Jesus did die for the people – not just the Jewish people but for all the people of the world – so that they would not perish (Isaiah 49:6; Romans 3:25-26; 5:15-19; I Peter 2:24; 3:18; I John 2:2).
Without a trial or even evidence of wrong doing, the Sanhedrin council condemned an innocent man to death (Psalm 109:4-5). They soothed their conscience by telling themselves it was for the good of the nation.
Jesus Withdraws (John 11:54)
Jesus ends his public ministry. Though he continues to teach, he no longer does so openly. He did not withdraw out of fear but to keep the Jewish leaders from acting too soon. He left Bethany for a small town near the edge of the wilderness, called Ephraim. Most place this town to be 16 miles northeast of Jerusalem and 5 miles east of Bethel. In the Old Testament this town was called Ophrah (Joshua 18:23) and Ephraim (II Samuel 13:23; II Chronicles 13:19).