Intro: Breaking news travels rapidly these days through live news feeds. The Pew Research Center reports eight-in-ten Americans get their news from digital devices. Staying informed with news is important, because we need to base our point of view and understanding of the world around us on the truth. The Spirit bears witness with our spirits when we hear the truth, so believers can discern the truth from lies. Our ability to stay informed is almost instantaneous, but that was certainly not always the case.
In the first century, a healthy person could travel three to four miles an hour over flat terrain to deliver news. So a person might be able to walk twenty-five to thirty miles a day unless motivated to run part of the way. Augustus Caesar developed a horse mail system for conveying military or political instruction; however, private letters were carried by servants or by travelers. Water travel was based on rowing or sail power, so depending on the weather a boat could travel six to seven miles per hour. Certainly, it would take a while to get news from one town to another.
In our passage today, the news about the resurrection of Lazarus, for its culture and time, traveled rapidly through Bethany and to the city of Jerusalem [two miles away]. The truth was apparent; Jesus performed a miracle to bring this man who was dead [four days] back to life. But, even though the information about the miracle was the truth, the religious leaders were frightened the work of Jesus would escalate the long standing conflict between the Jews and the Romans. They failed to see the salvation the Jews and the world needed had very little to do with Rome.
Caiaphas—ruler of the high council who worked with Pontius Pilate—was unaware of his mouth passing along news from heaven. God used what Caiaphas said to get His plan for salvation moving forward in the appointed time. What Caiaphas meant with his words was that it was better for one “revolutionary” to die than for the whole nation of Israel to live through a crushing assault from Rome. So, in response to this fear, the high council set a trap for Jesus when he returned to Jerusalem for Passover.
John 11:45-57 NLT The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Many of the people who were with Mary [sister of Lazarus] believed in Jesus when they saw this [resurrection of Lazarus] happen. 46 But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. 48 If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.”
49 Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! 50 You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”
51 He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. 52 And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving your life, so believers do not have to face the crushing effects of sin and death. By faith, we can know and be assured of enteral life just by trusting in your work on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. Thank you for orchestrating our salvation by using the words of Caiaphas to set things into motion. Thank you for using the words and actions of your sons and daughters worldwide to reveal the work of grace. May how we live for your glory be the news that travels rapidly. You truly are the Great Director of all and your plan for salvation is perfect. In Jesus’ name. Amen.