Day 23 - Monday, March 30 Better That One Man Should Die DAILY READING - Jn 11:45-54 Today’s reading takes us to the Pharisees, once again. The Jews who were comforting Martha and Mary after Lazarus’ death have witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus. If you need a refresher, glance back at 11:31 to see who these people were and what they have witnessed. They were stunned to see Jesus raise a man that had been dead for four days. The text tells us that many people believed after seeing Lazarus come out of the grave and break out of his death bindings. I can’t even imagine what that might have been like. Shocked and filled with awe, how could the people NOT believe? Like, what is wrong with you that you can’t believe after witnessing a man come alive after being dead? Anyway, the Jews in the gathering feel the need to go tell the Pharisees, not just about what has happened, but about how many people believe that Jesus is the Messiah after witnessing the sign. These people aren’t impressed by the sign. They are impressed by the number of conversions.The Jews are telling on Jesus. The Pharisees realize things are getting serious. They can’t take action alone. The Pharisees are local synagogue leaders. The Sanhedrin are the big daddy officials. The Sanhedrin is a council formed from the wealthiest, highest judicial officials in the land and they manage Jewish internal affairs under Roman rule (Carson, 420). They are the legislative body, judges, jury, and executives. The checks and balances of the American government that we know didn’t exist under Roman rule. Imagine the three branches of our government rolled into one. Now, imagine that government leaders are all priests and their authority is believed to be directly given by God. Also, imagine that all of these men are the wealthiest and reside on the highest rung of the social class rankings. What could go wrong under this kind of system? While our government is flawed, we might have learned a little about governing people. What do you think? The Pharisees go to the Sanhedrin because the Sanhedrin can take action against Jesus. When they ask,”What are we accomplishing?”, they know they aren’t combatting anything that Jesus is doing. They can’t argue against the many signs Jesus is performing. After a man born blind at birth is given sight and Lazarus is raised from the dead, they must admit Jesus is a power to be reckoned with. Oddly enough, these two miracles don’t give them reason to pause and consider that Jesus is actually the Messiah. They fear that an uprising of messianic belief in the lower classes will cause an uncontrollable coup. The Roman rule allowed the Sanhedrin authority over the Jewish people and if the lower classes rise up causing a ruckus, the Roman rule will take over. The Sanhedrin are scared of losing their power. Read 11:48. The Sanhedrin says, “If we let (Jesus) go on like this, will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both temple and nation." When the Sanhedrin say “our”, do you think they are referring to all of the Jewish people or themselves as the ruling class? Are they concerned with the whole of the Jewish people or themselves? In the study of John 10, we looked at two different kinds of leadership. The leadership of the Pharisees versus the leadership of Jesus. An iron fist versus the Good Shepherd. Just imagine the leadership of the Pharisees on steroids. The Sanhedrin have all the money and all of the power. They make the Pharisees look like peasants. In your experience, when one group has all of the power and all of the money, are they usually interested in the well being of other people? What are groups of people with all money and power usually obsessed with? Money and power rule the minds of the Sanhedrin. Jesus threatens their authority and power. Why? What would it mean if the Sanhedrin and Pharisees, after witnessing the miracles of the Messiah, did believe that Jesus is One with the Father? What kind of destruction to their system would occur? What would it mean for the Jewish nation? Remember Nicodemus? He was a Pharisee that believed. We see his process of conversion in the book of John. What if all of the Jewish leaders and priests had the courage to step outside of their power and money? Nicodemus is so crucial in the book of John because his story is the vision of what should have occurred among religious leaders. But, the religious leaders let their money and power preside instead of the Will of God. Nicodemus is God’s hope for the world. Human greed, however, restricts God’s hope for the world. Religion often takes a bad rap because of religious leaders. After looking at this reading more closely, in what ways do religious leaders need to be held accountable to God’s Word and Will? The high priest of the Sanhedrin, Joseph Caiaphas, wanted political expediency. He believed one man, whether innocent or guilty, should perish rather than the whole Jewish nation be put in jeopardy (NIV Study Bible Notes). Caiaphas was out to kill Jesus. Today’s reading ends with Jesus withdrawing from public life into the wilderness with his disciples. This begins our journey into the last days of Jesus’ life.