The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it so they could arrest Him.
The Gospel of John comes ever closer to a boil in these verses as the Passover feast looms and the chief priests and Pharisees become more desperate. Something about the man Jesus couldn’t be denied, yet He remained frightening to their status quo sensibilities.
Much of the same thought pervades the modern mind: Jesus was a wonderful teacher and maybe even a healer, but He couldn't really be God? He can't be the only means of salvation. Get real!
We must take Jesus at His word that He was, in fact, God made flesh. Mary gives us testimony of Jesus' identity by her anointing of His feet in between our texts for today. Christian tradition, our families, our churches, and nature all give us testimony of Jesus' identity and purpose. However, I’d like to focus on how often the Pharisees and chief priests, in spite of their best efforts, reveal profound truths to us about Jesus.
The most famous pseudo-revelation to be found in John occurs just a few lines before our passage when the high priest Caiaphas said, “You know nothing at all! You’re not considering that it is to your advantage that one man should die for the people rather than the whole nation perish” (John 11:49-50).
God isn’t a utilitarian who simply does what seems best for the greatest number of people like some divine Jack Bauer. No, God sacrificed His Son to redeem His righteous name (Romans 3:25-26) and to redeem His creatures (John 3:16).
How amazing that the High Priest, not being able to submit his will to that truth, nevertheless reveals such profundity to us?
Something similar happens in John 11:57. The chief priests and Pharisees order anyone who happens to see Jesus to report his location so that they might arrest or seize Him. On the one hand, they had to seize Jesus so He could fulfill His purpose of redemption in the crucifixion and resurrection. On the other hand, though for all the wrong reasons, it reveals the necessary mentality of humanity for salvation.
Jesus has done His work, left the Holy Spirit to guide us, and freely invited all of creation to enjoy salvation in Him. Modern society has convinced itself that things aren’t so bad. In taking our focus off of God, we’ve built ourselves up as decent, moral-enough people.
We, as the church of God, must bring our culture's focus back to Holy God so we can really see the pitiful state of our existence. God will judge and we’re guilty. Now, our options are the same as they were for the people in Jesus' day: either we seize Jesus in the likeness of the Pharisees to kill Him or we seize Him because He offers Himself as our atonement.
Jesus doesn’t hide, and if we seize Him in great vigor, then we’ll surely find Him. How will you seize Him?
- What does someone looking to seize Jesus for salvation look like?
- By looking at our lives, would others see Jesus as someone worth seizing?
- What other pseudo-revelatory statements are made by characters in Scripture (Roman guards, Pilate, etc.)?
- If we’re not seizing Jesus with all our hearts, minds, and souls, then what steps can we take to more passionately seek the things of God?