Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people. (verse 14)
Caiaphas was the man of the inadvertent prophecy. He didn’t know what he was saying, but he nailed it.
Back in John 11 the religious leaders were reeling from the clearly miraculous restoration of life Jesus had brought about for Lazarus. They had growing frustration that the crowds were being swayed in Jesus’ direction, troubled that such allegiance might cause a Roman crack-down. Into this angst, Caiaphas spoke shrewdly and, without knowing it, prophetically:
“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” (John 11:49-50).
John, at that point in the narrative, immediately inserted an editorial note:
“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” (John 11:51-52).
Now, in this chapter, John reintroduces us to Caiaphas and reminds us of that inadvertent prophecy. It’s Caiaphas’ main claim to fame. Without knowing it, he pulled the curtain back so we could see, with absolute clarity, what is about to be accomplished through Jesus’ death. It’s an act of substitution. Jesus is dying for the people. He’s dying for us.
This window of clarity pulls together a number of insights John has recorded along the way. Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29). He is “the good shepherd (who) lays down his life for the sheep” (10:11). He is the One whose love is so great “that he lay(s) down his life for his friends” (15:13). All of these speak of substitution, the Lord dying so that life may be extended to others. To us.
Caiaphas speaks revelation. He nails it.
So, Lord Jesus, I embrace this clear sighting. It is good – yes, good indeed – that you died. Because, in so doing, you died for me. You laid down life that I might have it to the full. You took my place, that my sins might be taken away. You expressed the full extent of your love, by loving me to the end.
Give Thanks: Take time to write out your own prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus’ act of substitution. “It would be good if one man died for the people.” Give thanks for all the ways Jesus’ death has produced “good” for you.