49 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.”
The Sanhedrin met to deal with Jesus with great frenzy among its members.
And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year,
Caiaphas held the office of high priest from AD 18 to 36. He was a Sadducee and a shrewd politician. “That year” does not imply that Caiaphas held the office only one year; it simply conveys the idea that Caiaphas was the high priest at the time all this occurred. “That year” means that fateful year. Caiaphas ruled as high priest for many years.
said to them, “You know nothing at all,
Caiaphas, frustrated by the indecision of the other members of the Sanhedrin, made a boorish, caustic, and brazen remark about his colleagues. His idea was: “Can’t you calculate that we will lose most of the population if we allow this man to continue to influence the nation?” He disregarded all former presentations. His words here expressed contempt for the prevailing opinion of other members of the Sanhedrin about Christ. He presumptuously knew more than anyone else.
nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.”
The judgment of Caiaphas was that one man should die for the people: “Why should many die if we can sacrifice only one of us?” His proposal offered two opposite alternatives: either it was necessary for Jesus to die or for the nation of Israel to perish.
He hated Jesus under a pseudo-patriotic mask: “It is for the benefit of the nation that we must take action about Jesus. It is better that He die than that we lose the nation to the Romans.” People do awful things in the name of expediency. Caiaphas’ theory operated under the guise of noble patriotism, a threat to national security.
Caiaphas’ argument can be summarized this way: “If we follow Jesus, the nation Israel perishes (the Romans will control us); if the Sanhedrin puts Him to death, the nation survives.” If one man is sacrificed, then the nation Israel would continue in Rome’s favor. The alternative would be the destruction of the nation Israel (11:48).
The council did not make any attempt to deny the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. They even acknowledged Jesus’ performance of miracles but never opened themselves to the possibility that Jesus might be the Messiah. To admit the miracle and yet deny the Miracle-worker was blatant unbelief.
The Sanhedrin had lost control of the political environment. Power was their central value; it was what they believed in the most. With this in view, the popularity of Jesus had to be put down quickly. Their negative volition toward Jesus cauterized. They needed a new policy to address the situation; their old approach did not work. The collaboration of opposing religious forces was necessary to accomplish this. They also needed a goon squad to execute their policy.
Expediency is often an escape hatch for devious ends.
Caiaphas offered an expedient alternative to their dilemma, a policy of escapism. He wanted to make Jesus a scapegoat for their problem with the Roman government. His desire was to maintain Sanhedrin power in Israel. This was an appeal to self-interest. There are those who are more concerned with cold expediency than truth. Fear turns to hate and hateful methods. They use others as scapegoats for their selfish interests.
Expediency was a problem in the first century and it is a problem today. A person of integrity does not fear the consequence of doing the right thing; he fears the consequence of not doing it.