(57) It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish – John 11:50

Jesus’ miracles caused the biggest headache for the Pharisees and other religious leaders. John records the story of a man who was blind from birth. Jesus was passing by when his disciples asked him whether his blindness was a result of his own sin or, given that he was born blind, his parents’ sin. Jesus told them that it was not the result of either’s sin but that “the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3).

Jesus made the grand statement that, “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5) – and promptly followed it by spitting on the ground! He then made some mud, put it on the man’s eyes and told him to go and wash in a nearby pool. The man did this and came back seeing.

Understandably this created a stir among his friends and neighbours who took him to the Pharisees to investigate how this happened. They were divided as some said that because the healing happened on the Sabbath Jesus could not be from God while others wondered how someone not from God could perform such miracles.

They questioned his parents, who confirmed that he was their son who had been born blind but refused to be drawn into a discussion about Jesus. The Pharisees then question the man more harshly. His testimony is simple: “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25). He gets increasingly irritated at their questioning and boldly mocks their lack of understanding. This infuriates them so much that they throw him out. Jesus finds him and accepts the man’s worship while commenting that those who are spiritually blind will, like this man, see. Meanwhile those like the Pharisees who claim to see, will become blind.

The miracle that finally caused the religious leaders to plan Jesus’ death is the most dramatic. When Jesus visited Jerusalem he often stayed at the house of Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary. Jesus receives the news that Lazarus is ill but delays going to see him until he has died. By the time he arrives at his house he has already been in the tomb for four days and he finds Martha and Mary mourning with their friends.

Both sisters meet him and demonstrate their faith in Jesus by saying that if he had been there he would have healed Lazarus and avoided his death. Jesus is moved by the mourning and weeps with them. But when he came to the cave where Lazarus was buried he shocks everyone by telling them to take away the stone that sealed the entrance. Martha protests but allows the tomb to be opened whereupon Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb. To everyone’s amazement he appears, bound in grave clothes but alive.

This event caused many to believe in him, but others went to tell the Pharisees. They gathered with the chief priests and decided that Jesus had to be stopped. If he continues, his popularity will cause such trouble that the Romans will crack down hard, so threatening the position of the religious establishment. Caiaphas, the high priest, summed it up by saying, “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish” (John 11:50).

The Pharisees had wanted Jesus out of the way for some time but now they started serious planning to put him to death. Jesus had to be removed and, as they saw how people flocked to see Lazarus, they planned to kill him too. The scene was set for Jesus’ last week on earth.

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