How did the world get so messed up? When I studied the text for today's message, I saw so much in the reaction and the plotting of the Pharisees and the Sadducees that reflects a strain of attitude, a strain of response that I see in the world today. How Did the World Get So Messed Up?
Another question, really the same question to me is…When did Jesus become the enemy? When did the miracle worker who could give sight to a man born blind, could raise someone from the grave become an enemy? When did something good, something noble, something peaceful, something profitable become so despised, so rejected? We live in a world today where the peaceful message of Scripture, the peaceful motives of being a believer, is the enemy of our society.
Christianity is on the defensive. It has been on the defensive many times in its existence. There come these times when that which promotes faithfulness and promotes purity, morality, and loyalty is opposed. Why is that? Why is it that being a Christian today is seen with not just foolishness, not just as ignorant, but as evil, as something that needs to be vocally opposed?
Well let's look at the text. Let's see if we can find some things in our message today, see how the world gets so messed up. I believe that the world gets so messed up when it views Christ as an enemy, and I want us to look at that today as we see these groups that view this miracle-working teacher as something that they don't want anymore.
Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead. He did so very publically. There is a large crowd gathered around the tomb of Lazarus. They were there to comfort Mary and Martha at the death of their brother Lazarus, but now they are eye witnesses to this most dramatic of miracles. The response, well, as with Jesus, His response always divides, and so it did with the response to the raising of Lazarus. Jesus had prayed to His Father. He said, "I know that You always answer My prayer, but I'm doing this so that others might believe."
Indeed, it tells us that many believed (there in John, chapter 11). In the 45th verse, following the resurrection of Lazarus, it says, "Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him." The response was as Jesus had prayed that His sign, His display of His power was so that there would be those who would believe in Him. They would see that He was the Messiah. Isn't it amazing how two people can see the same thing and have such different responses to that same event?
So we discover in verse 46, "But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did." Now grammatically, that could have been some of the same ones, but obviously it isn't. It's the divided group. Some believed in Jesus. Some say, "I see through what He has done that He is the Messiah," but then there are those who, instead, go away to the Pharisees. They tell them the things that Jesus did…not to encourage the Pharisees to change their mind and believe in Jesus but to convince the Pharisees that something has to be done.
We have seen many people in our presence now believe that Jesus who He has said He is, that He is the Messiah. They believe that, and you're the religious leaders and something needs to be done about that. It's amazing how the message of the gospel always divides into two camps. There are those who accept the gospel message by faith. By faith they see its power. By faith they believe in its truth. By faith they come to accept that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for them. By faith, they surrender to Him as their Lord and Master. By faith, they begin to live the precepts of Scripture as their very own lives.
But then in that other camp are those who see the gospel message as foolishness. The Bible tells us that. Then they also see it as dangerous. They go back to those that are their leaders, to those who are their mentors, and they proceed to say, "Something must be done about this. This needs to be stopped in its tracks. It cannot go on any further."
Listen to that discussion here with the Pharisees in verse 47. It says, "Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, 'What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.'" Boy, there is so much just in that verse. First of all, there is the admission that He is working many signs. Now we would all say, "You know if I saw Him raise Lazarus from the dead, in fact, if I see somebody raise someone who is clearly dead and bring them back to life, I'm a believer. That's all I need." But you know the Bible tells us that isn't all you need.
There is a parable of a rich man and another man named Lazarus. In this case, Lazarus is a beggar, and he dies and goes to heaven in this parable. The rich man dies and goes to hell. From hell, he looks up to Abraham's bosom in heaven, and eventually over the course of conversation he says, "If you will just send that beggar Lazarus back from the dead to talk to my brothers, then they will be believers." The response is, "They had Moses and the prophets, and if they don't believe the Bible, then they won't believe one even if he rose from the dead."
What we would think would be an ironclad proof, the Bible knows better because our hearts are evil and our motives are selfish and evil. So here are people who have seen the signs, the same signs that the believing Jews saw, but their response is, "What shall we do?" Gathered are chief priests and the Pharisees. These chief priests…that collective term is for a group of primarily Sadducees. Sadducees did not believe in resurrections. Sadducees believed that there is this life, get all you can get and at the end of it, that's it.
So here is a group that is supposed to represent what the truth is, but they've modified it to something that is practical, that is pragmatic, that is humanly logical in their reasoning, and now they stand as religious leaders, as mentors to the people. They listen to the cries of these people because it makes no sense to them that there would be such a Messiah. So they gather with the Pharisees and they form a council. The Greek word there is the word Sanhedrin, for council. It is the Sanhedrin, the 70 who are gathered together, composed of primarily the Sadducee priests, also a minority group of Pharisees who were a very influential group. They're the conservative ones. They believe in resurrection. They believe in the Old Testament. They're trying their best to live the law.
Normally, they don't get along with the more elite Sadducees, but in this case they do. There are also landowners and a few others that make it onto this council. They gather together to deal with the problem. Jesus has become their enemy. Why? Verse 48, "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." How did the world get so messed up? When did Jesus become the enemy? Look here in verse 48, "If we leave Him alone, everyone will believe in Him."
Now they're not saying that they're going to place their faith in Him. They're not talking about believe in the way that we, in church, talk about believing in Jesus. They're saying that they're going to believe in Him as the earthly Messiah King. They're going to come to Him and put Him on the throne. They're going to insight a rebellion. They have found their conquering king. They have found the one who will overthrow Rome, that they'll believe Him to be that earthly prophesied Messiah who was going to take them out of the bondage of Rome.
That's what they mean by believe. They're not worried about their faith. What they see is that He is going to lead a political revolt. Notice what happens. The Romans are going to come and take away our place and our nation. Our place there…when that phrase is used it's always used of the temple. It's a word that has two meanings, and they're both applied here. One, they're going to take away our temple, but deeper than that, is that they're going to take away our position. They're going to take away, as we would talk about our place in society, our place on a committee, our place in government…that sort of thing.
He says, "They're going to come, and this Jesus is threatening our lifestyle. He is threatening our position. We have learned how to live with the Romans. We have learned how to have a prominent position among our peers, and if this man is left alone, people are going to get behind Him and that will threaten our very existence, not to mention the existence of our nation." Always included in that is of course the nation, too. Their concern is about their position, but they want to make it sound a little better with including the nation with it, I believe. They sincerely believe the Romans will end their way of life.
When someone's way of life is threatened, when someone is confronted with having to make changes, when someone sees that things are not going to rock along as they always have, that's always threatening. Change is threatening to everybody. Change, the fear of change is always the fear of loss. Whenever there is going to be a change, whether it's a change in church, a change in the family, a change in a marriage, a change in a job, there is always that fear that you're going to lose something. Something is not going to be like it was.
These Pharisees feared the loss. We fear that something is going to change in our life. If someone, a close friend, a child, a parent becomes a believer in Christ, begins to follow Christ, begins to study their Bible, begins to go to church, that can be a change that threatens because now things aren't going to be the same as they were. Things aren't going to be rocking along as they normally have been, and we feel threatened.
Whenever the gospel message moves in revival through a city or through a country, along with the motivations of people drawing their hearts closer to God are those who are threatened by that. They're threatened by the changes that will come, the disruptions to their life that will come. You know what that is. We've all experienced that. We're always afraid when there is a new manager who comes to work, when headquarters sends down a new VP, when our child begins to date a new person. When something changes in our life, we feel that threat. When we see a movement going in another direction, we feel threatened. You just need to put yourself in the place of the Pharisees here for a moment and realize they're not too far off in the way all of us think.
So they see the fear. Verse 49, "One of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all.'" In the Greek, "You don't know anything. You don't know what you're talking about." Now Caiaphas whose name was actually Joseph, Caiaphas is a title, and it's a title for (believe it or not) it's the word for fortuneteller and prophet. So he's given this title of a prophet/fortuneteller, which comes into play very well because that's what his comments are going to be here in just a moment.
You know just about 10-15 years ago, they found the family tomb of Caiaphas there just over the Hinnom Valley on the upslope of the other side, a fascinating discovery showing the existence of this man and his family. The family tomb was quite ornate, and so he was a man of some political prestige and political power. He's the son-in-law of a former high priest named Annas.
Now in the Old Testament, a high priest would serve a prescribed number of years, but in the Roman government-controlled Palestine, they served at the whim of the Roman authorities. So Caiaphas sees Rome as his ticket, his ticket to prominence, his ticket to prestige. He begins serving as high priest in the year 18 A.D., and he and Pontius Pilate both will be removed from office in 36 A.D., some three or four years after this. That means that he serves for 18 years as high priest, and that was longer than most all the high priests served. So he knew how to get along. He knew the politics to stay in office as high priest.
I say all that… Well first of all, it says that he was high priest that year, but what John is meaning here is not that he was just high priest for one year, but that year…that memorial year, the year that Christ was crucified. Notice what this one who knows which side his toast is buttered has to say. He says, "You don't know what you're talking about." Verse 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.' Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad."
John makes sure to include that prophesy here because ironically that's exactly what Jesus is going to do. That was a very true prophesy Caiaphas had. He only misinterpreted what its intentions were. He tells the people, "Don't you know that it would be better for one man to die than for the nation to be destroyed. It would be expedient for us to arrest and murder this one. We could keep our position. Things can keep floating along." Caiaphas has no problem seeing that there come times when it's better to murder somebody than to let such a thing get out of hand.
Well that has been the cause against Christianity for ages, and no less today. For ages the response to Christianity has been to imprison them, to behead them, to murder them. We see that. That's not just 100 years ago. That's occurring today, my friends. It's occurring today in India, in Pakistan, in Eritria, in Iran. We don't read this. The mainstream media is not interested in it, but there are believers in portions of our world who today are in prison because of their simple belief in Christ, who today have been pulled out of their homes. Their children raped and killed by other religious groups all approved by the government because it was seen as better than letting their message expand.
Well in our country, we do it through comedy. We make fun. We make our political statements by running down the Christian faith, but running down Jesus Christ. We make points, we score political assets by saying that we're not Christians anymore, by saying that the Christians are the crazy ones. We may not be imprisoning, but the attempt is the same. It's more expedient to destroy one religion than to run the risk of things having to change because my friends, if we follow the Scriptures, things have to change. Okay? If we follow the Scriptures, our lives have to change.
If we listen to what Jesus has to say, if we listen to the commands of God and what He wants us to do, oh it's not that we get put into a little box and things we can't do. No, actually it's a more joyful life than we experience now. It's just that it's different. It's just that it's a change.
Caiaphas inflames the people with his inflammatory comments. We have to ask the question…have you ever been inflamed by the comments of another person that you later found to be wrong? If so, then what did you do? You see the problem that is going on here, the problem that goes on in so many circles today is that their pride keeps them from doing an about face and acknowledging Him.
They hear that He performed these signs, but they've spend the last few years ridiculing Christ and saying that He is not real, that He is a blasphemer, that He is a false prophet, and now word comes and really not just the resurrection of Lazarus, as profound as that was, but you have the giving of sight to a man who everybody knew was born blind.
You have the other miracles, and they all add up and the Pharisees are faced with a decision. Do I make an about face and acknowledge that I was wrong in my sentiments, that my anger was misdirected, that I was misleading the people, that I made a mistake, or does my pride cause me to overlook all of that and instead decide to get rid of Him? Because see those are your two choices.
You either admit your mistake, you admit you were wrong, or you try to make that which makes you look wrong look worse. You try to get rid of it. You try to destroy it. That's exactly what they're doing with their inflammatory comments. They're afraid Jesus is going to be Messiah, but it's not spiritual Messiah, it's a political Messiah. He is going to take their position, and they don't want to lose it.
Transcribed by Digital Sermon Transcription