The Sadducees of Jesus’ day have been called the most insensible people to have risen to the height of political responsibility ever.
Their statement about Jesus in John 11:48 really highlights this.
The statement came shortly after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, recorded in John 10. This miracle was incontrovertible proof that Jesus is the son of God. No one who had seen or had known about what Jesus had done could dispute it.
Faced with the absolute truth of this miracle, a “council” had a meeting and the Sadducees said, “If we allow him (Jesus) to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then, the Roman Army will come and destroy our temple and our nation” (John 11:48 NLT).
It was then that Caiaphas, a Sadducee himself and the High Priest, made a most surprising statement. “You don’t know what you’re talking about! 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” (John 11:49-50 NLT).
It wasn’t only the Sadducees who did not understand what they were saying. Caiaphas did not understand what he was saying, either. One commentator on this passage wrote, “Caiaphas meant that it was better that Jesus should die than that there would be trouble with the Romans.”
F.F. Bruce wrote, “If the safety of the nation could be secured by one man’s death, it was a matter of prudential calculation that one man should die.” Bruce continued, “Justice took second place to prudence.” It was just too bad that Jesus had to die, Caiaphas reasoned, but if his death would silence the Romans, so be it.
Of course, John tells us that God used Caiaphas to speak the truth. John wrote, “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 11:51-52 NKJV).
That last part is us. Thanks be to God that Jesus loved us so much he would make us all children of God through an obedient faith in Jesus (Galatians 3:26-29).