“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, 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.’”
— John 11:49–50
Have you ever considered the irony of Christ’s encounter with Caiaphas, the high priest of the Jews? Christ, the true high priest of God, stood before Joseph Caiaphas, the false high priest of God. And though Caiaphas and Jesus had different motives, they agreed with each other. Caiaphas believed that, in the best interests of the people, one man should die so that the rest would live. Christ believed the same thing. Caiaphas, the false high priest, said, “Let it be Him.” And Jesus, the true high priest, said, “Let it be Me.”
The great contrast between Christ and Caiaphas was that while Christ came in obedience to His Father’s will, Caiaphas was motivated by expedience. Expedience comes from two Latin words meaning “to get your foot out of a trap.” Caiaphas tried to set a trap for Christ, but he fell into it himself. The false witnesses that he had arranged to testify against Christ had all contradicted one another, so he had no case against Jesus. In desperation, Caiaphas screamed at Christ, “Tell us if you are the Son of God.” He couldn’t have expected Christ to answer this, because Christ had remained silent up to this point and because this question was illegal. (Under Jewish law no one could force someone to testify against himself or herself.) When Jesus answered, “Yes, I am the Son of God,” Caiaphas shouted, “Blasphemy,” tore his robe at the neck, and declared Christ guilty.
Caiaphas exemplifies many people we can describe in three words: religious but lost. Caiaphas, a religious liberal, denied the great truths of the Bible. He didn’t believe in the Resurrection, the spirit, immortality, or angels. He supposed that his high position and his ritualistic practices would ensure his soul’s eternal well-being, but alas they did not. Instead, his eternal destiny relied on the Man who stood before him that day—the Christ, the Son of God.