The miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead (1) strengthened the faith of Mary, Martha, and the disciples, (2) increased the hatred and bitterness of the Jewish leaders who plotted His death, (3) caused many of the Jews to believe on Him, and (4) caused much talk and excitement in Jerusalem among the Passover crowds.
(Vs. 45) These Jews had come to the house to comfort the sisters: and, accompanying them to the grave with the Lord, they saw the things which the Lord had done and truly believed on Him to be the Messiah. What Christ said to the Pharisees in John 10:37-38 certainly applied to them; they judged His claims to be valid by the works which He did.
(Vs. 46) But some who witnessed the miracle were more hardened with malice and envy and ran immediately to the Pharisees in Jerusalem to accuse Him and to further stir up their anger. While some believed because of what they heard and saw, others were hardened in their unbelief. This is experienced where the gospel is preached (II Cor. 2:14-16; Acts 28:24).
(Vs. 47-48) The Pharisees called together a council of the Saducees, the Pharisees, and the chief priests, which went under the name of the Sanhedrin. Caiaphas, the High Priest, the president of the court, was among them. The question to consider concerned this man, Jesus of Nazareth. "What can we do, for this fellow is performing many miracles? If we don't do something to do away with Him, everyone will believe on Him as the political Messiah: and the Romans, hearing about this new Jewish king, will come with their armies (for the Romans will look upon this as a threat to Caesar) and destroy our temple, our religion, our offices, and our city." They feared the loss also of what little power, authority, and distinction they had as Jewish leaders.
(Vs. 49-50) Caiaphas, the High Priest, spoke up and said, "You are a group of ignorant fools to sit disputing and arguing about this fellow Jesus. What is to be done is quite obvious. Kill this man without further ado. It matters not Who He is nor what He does nor what is lawful or right. It is reasonable and sensible for this man to die, innocent or not, that the whole nation be not destroyed. Follow Jesus and the nation perishes; put Jesus to death and the nation will be saved."
(Vs. 51-52) Caiaphas spoke from his own wicked heart, but the Spirit of God preached the glorious gospel of substitution and redemption through him. He occupied the office of High Priest between God and the people, though himself a wicked man; and without becoming aware of it, the villain became a prophet to declare the substitutionary work of our Lord. Yes, indeed! The Lord Jesus would die for the "holy nation," the "chosen generation," the "Israel of God" (Rom. 11:26), and for all believers in every tribe and nation (Isa. 53:4-6; 53:10-12). He died that we might not die (John 10:14-16: I John 2:2). It is true that if the Lord Jesus does not die, we shall die eternally. The Son of man MUST be lifted up. Two words must be learned if we are to understand the gospel SUBSTITUTION and SATISFACTION! Christ, our SUBSTITUTE, endured the wrath, punishment, and guilt of our sins before the law and justice of God. He made full and complete atonement and SATISFACTION for all the sins of all believers before God, in order that God may be both just and Justifier (Rom. 3:26). Therefore, being justified, we have peace with God. Christ died and lives eternally; therefore, we shall not die but shall live eternally with Him.
(Vs. 53) These men had met and discussed this before; but now upon the word of the High Priest, they were more intent than ever to put Him to death. The High Priest had satisfied their consciences.
(Vs. 54) Our Lord, knowing that the time designated in God's eternal plan for His death had not fully arrived, no longer walked about openly from place to place among the Jews but departed to the country near the desert to a city called Ephraim, a small out-of-the-way place.
(Vs. 55) This was the fourth Passover from Christ's entrance into His public ministry and the last He ate with His disciples. This was also THE LAST PASSOVER; for Christ, by His sacrifice, put an end to this and all other ceremonial observances (Heb. 10:9-14). Many of the Jews went up early to the Passover to cleanse or purify themselves and be ready to observe the Passover (Exod. 19: 10:15; Num. 9:9-14: John 18:28).
(Vs. 56-57) The country people who had heard of Him (or had seen Him and heard Him preach) began to inquire of His whereabouts. "Will He come to Jerusalem?" Some asked out of curiosity to see and hear Him, others wanted to see His miracles, and perhaps some were interested in Him and what He had to say. But the chief priests and Pharisees had one thing in mind to arrest Him and put Him to death. They issued orders to all that if any man saw Him or knew where He was, he was to report to them, that they might take Him.