What exactly is going on in John 11:49-52?


by Shawn Brasseaux

We will start at verse 46 of John chapter 11:

“[46] But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. [47] Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. [48] If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. [49] And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, [50] Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

“[51] And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; [52] And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. [53] Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. [54] Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.”

It is quite clear from the text that Caiaphas the high priest was not aware of what he was saying when he spoke of Christ’s impending death during the trial. Verse 51 again, “And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;….” The priest’s office in Israel was designed to be a method of communicating God’s Word. Israel was encouraged to seek Divine words at the priest’s lips, seeing as to the Levitical priests are God’s messengers: “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 2:7). Consequently, Zadok the priest was called a “seer” or prophet—a spokesman for the LORD God—in 2 Samuel 15:27 (cf. 1 Samuel 9:9).

Although an unbeliever and thoroughly corrupt, Caiaphas was used by the LORD to speak His inspired Word. During those brief moments described above, Caiaphas unknowingly became God’s spokesman! God the Holy Spirit used him to predict the death of Christ, His death for Israel, but Caiaphas was merely expressing a fear that Jesus would have to die or they—the perverted Jewish religious leaders—would lose their spiritual and political clout over Israel (go back to John 11:48). Caiaphas’ argument was thus: if they (the Jews) did not “take care of” Jesus, Rome would intervene and destruction would occur—the Jerusalem Temple would have been lost, Judaism would have disintegrated, and so on.

“The children of God that were scattered abroad” refers to the Jews dispersed under every nation under heaven centuries earlier. Due to the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities, they were now in foreign lands instead of the land of Canaan where Caiaphas was speaking in Jerusalem. The divided kingdom—Israel (the northern 10 tribes) and Judah (the two southern tribes)—had arisen after King Solomon’s death. These would be united again under the Davidic dynasty. At Christ’s Second Coming, both kingdoms will be under one king and no longer two.

You may read all of Ezekiel chapter 37—Israel’s national restoration under the New Covenant, which looks to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming and onward into the Millennium. The New Covenant will be based on the shed blood of Christ (see Hebrews 10:1-22). Read this segment of Ezekiel chapter 37:

“[11] Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. [12] Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. [13] And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, [14] And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD….

“[21] And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: [22] And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all…. [25] And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.”

We can also compare this to Ezekiel chapter 34: “[11] For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. [12] As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. [13] And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.”

It was in light of Ezekiel’s prophecies—among other Old Testament passages—the Lord Jesus Christ announced in John chapter 10: “[14] I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. [15] As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. [16] And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. [17] Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. [18] No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

Also see:
» Is John 10:16 a reference to the Body of Christ?
» Does the Bible support British Israelism?
» Who will be Israel’s King in the Millennium—Jesus Christ or David?