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We’ve all heard people make some audacious claims. But the real power is in being able to back up those claims. Without any proof, it’s all talk! As things were coming to a conclusion for Christ’s ministry—at least in the world’s eyes—there were some bold claims being made. Some were made by Jesus Himself, some by His rivals, and some by His supporters.
The first bold claim we’re going to consider was made by the high priest: a man named Joseph Caiaphas.
The Sanhedrin was the highest court in the land and was made up of 70 + 1 men. This comes from Numbers 11:16-17 (seventy leaders) plus Moses. After Moses, another person was always appointed to serve as the leader, which was usually the high priest.
By the time of Jesus, this ruling body had become more political than religious. Very frequently, leadership would change because of the whims of the Romans or their puppet leaders (someone like a King Herod). The high priest in Christ’s early years was a man named Annas, who served from AD 6-15. During all of the public ministry of Jesus, the high priesthood had transferred to Caiaphas (AD 18-36), who was Annas’ son-in-law. Yet both of them still shared considerable influence (see Luke 3:2; John 18:13, 24; Acts 4:6).
Caiaphas and his family were Sadducees. They didn’t hold to any beliefs of the supernatural—no angels or demons, no resurrection, no afterlife. Partly because of these unscriptural beliefs, the Jewish Qumran, who safeguarded the careful copying of the Scriptures, called Caiaphas “the wicked priest.”
Annas, Caiaphas, and their family member were the ruling party that wanted to stay in power. So their activities were always a balancing act: Trying to keep the Jewish community happy on one hand, while not offending the Romans or other political leaders on the other hand.
It’s with this backdrop that we read the story of Lazarus’ resurrection in John 11. Jesus knew this miracle would validate His ministry, and sure enough, after the resurrection of Lazarus, more and more people put their faith in Jesus. So much so that the religious leaders wanted to kill both Jesus and Lazarus (11:53; 12:9-11).
Ironically, these same religious leaders had previously asked Jesus for a sign to prove He was who He made the bold claim to be. To this demand, Jesus said that He would give them “the sign of Jonah” who was considered dead in the belly of the fish before he was “resurrected” to complete his mission (Matthew 12:38-40, 16:1-4).
Since the religious leaders viewed everything through a political lens, they thought Jesus was also going to instigate a political or military uprising. The following that Jesus would gather would challenge the Sanhedrin’s hold on power, so Caiaphas proposed a political solution disguised as a prophecy (John 11:49-53).
Caiaphas meant it like this: “We’re trying to keep the balance between the Jewish people and the powerful Romans. If we kill one Man (Jesus) in time, we may be a little out of favor with the Jews but we will save our position with the Romans. Later on, we’ll make things right with the common people.”
Even to this day, people are trying to balance, juggle, control, appease, and bargain their way to get or keep the life they want to live. They will use religious dressing to do political things, thinking they will “make it right” later on.
Caiaphas made this bold claim: “If Jesus dies, our position will be saved for us and our children.” But he had no power to back up his bold claim, so it was just talk.
But Jesus made this bold claim: “I will die so that your souls can be saved for eternity.” He, on the other hand, had the power to back up His bold claim (John 10:17-18).
Caiaphas’ plan sounded like it would be the end of Jesus and His mission, but “the end” was really just another step in fulfilling what God had already planned!
Let me say it again: God’s plan always prevails. The bold claims of powerful evil people may make it seem like the end is near, but don’t fret because their “end” is only fulfilling God’s plan!
If you’ve missed any of the messages in this series of Bold Claims, you can check them all out by clicking here.
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