One For All
“In November 2004, Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago joined 15 other hospitals around the country experimenting with the use of Polyheme, a synthetic blood substitute. According to medical center spokesman Stephen Davidow, Loyola would equip their medic transport helicopter and ambulances with Polyheme.
This is a historic change in policy since ambulances do not carry human blood due to its short shelf life. Ordinarily, patients transported by emergency vehicles get an intravenous saline solution to restore fluid volume and blood pressure. But unlike blood, the fluid does not contain tissue-nourishing oxygen, so patients risk organ damage.
While the benefits of Polyheme have been validated in hospital settings, the experimental mobile use of the fake blood (undertaken by Loyola and the other medical centers participating in the study) will attempt to save lives of trauma patients before they get to the hospital. It can be used in patients with any blood type and lasts longer than blood.
Whereas the synthetic blood product is capable of sustaining life (at least temporarily), when it comes to the blood of Christ there is no substitute. Even 2,000 years of animal sacrifices weren't capable of producing what the blood of Christ alone can accomplish.”
Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois; source: AllHeadlineNews.com (11-4-04)
Baseball – another boy and I played first base when I was in the Major Leagues Division in Shippensburg (we would substitute in and out for each other
Basketball – when our boys played basketball, they wouldn’t play the whole game, because they needed a rest (a substitute would come in for them)
Teacher – when Judy isn’t able to go to school because of an illness or vacation, the school administrator has to find a substitute
Food – Judy has had to substitute other items in recipes when we didn’t have the original item or so we could use a healthier alternative (the boys will tell you that they don’t like her healthy substitute for sour cream, which is plain Greek yogurt)
Do you realize how many sugar substitutes there are today? Here’s a list of the ones that are approved by the FDA
Acesulfame K (brand names: Sunett and Sweet One)
Aspartame (two brand names: Equal and Nutrasweet)
Neotame (brand name: Newtame)
Saccharin (two brand names: Sweet ‘N Low and Sweet Twin)
Sucralose (brand name: Splenda)
What kind of substitutes have you had to make, either with recipes, food, repairs, sports, etc.?
Have they been successful?
We’ll see today that the high priest had a political plan, of Jesus being the substitute for the Jewish nation, while God had a spiritual plan, of Jesus being the substitute for humanity. So, our big idea today is that . . .
BIG IDEA – Jesus is God’s perfect substitute.
GOD (John 11:45-57)
Political Substitute (vv. 45-50)
PRINCIPLE #1 – Faith comes from witnessing the power of God.
This was our big idea last week
I mentioned that we would see the power of God last week, but that the faith of the Jews would be seen this week
The Jews were those who had come to comfort Mary and Martha
When they saw what Jesus did, in raising Lazarus, they put their faith in Jesus
They could not deny or dispute what had just happened
The power of God is what transformed them into disciples of Jesus Christ
Burge explains that the phrase “put their faith in him” was one of John’s favorite ways to express true belief in Jesus [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 320]
Other scholars question whether or not there was a true transformation that took place in the lives of the Jews, but that’s hard for us to determine since we can’t talk with those Jews or watch their lives following their transformation
This principle was true for some of the Jews, but not all of them
The same is true for us
There are individuals who see and experience the supernatural, but refuse to believe in God
They try to explain it away as something other than the hand of God
Even though they see it first-hand, the power of God doesn’t bring about faith in God
It may bring recognition that God is real and was in control of that situation, but it never goes beyond that
It doesn’t transform every area of their lives
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to be praying for those individuals, that they will recognize the power of God and put their faith in Jesus
Some of the Jews saw the miracle at Bethany, but it didn’t transform them
Reporting to the Pharisees
They simply went to the Pharisees and reported what Jesus had done
It’s assumed that these Jews did not put their faith in Jesus
Meeting of the Sanhedrin
The report from the Jews prompted a meeting of the Sanhedrin
The chief priests and the Pharisees are the ones who called for the meeting
The Sanhedrin was a seventy-member body made up of priests (Sadducees) and scribes (Pharisees) that oversaw the judicial, legislative, and executive duties for the Jewish nation [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 348 and Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 1-11, 364]
The current high priest was the seventy-first member of the Sanhedrin and would be the tie-breaking vote in any matters [Borchert, 364]
They did this under the direction and watchful eye of the Roman Empire
Michaels believes the meeting of the Sanhedrin was not an official meeting of the full seventy members, but rather a preliminary meeting of a smaller group, because the definite article is missing in the original Greek [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 648]
“What are we accomplishing?”
What’s really being said here is, “What are we going to do?”
I think that part of their concern comes from the fact that they have tried to arrest and or stone Him on multiple occasions and have been unsuccessful
What is our next step?
How can we stop Him from having such incredible influence on the people?
Jesus is performing many miraculous signs and people are turning to Him and putting their faith in Him
Their greatest fear is losing their status and position
Rome will come and strip us our status and position
There was a very tenuous relationship between the Jews and the Romans
“Rome gave partial freedom to the Jews as long as they were quiet and obedient.” [The NIV Life Application Bible, footnote on verse 48]
The Jews were concerned on two levels
There was the obvious concern that Rome would step in and remove their temple, if there was an uproar concerning the raising of Lazarus, or any other miraculous signs, that Jesus would perform
Rome could also remove the partial freedom that the Jews had as a nation and require them to begin following Roman law and abandon Jewish law
“. . . the position of hēmōn (“our”) in the Greek suggests that it was not the temple and nation about which the Council was most worried. It was their role as leaders (i.e., “our place,” cf. NIV) and the nation as they knew it that would therefore be at stake if, as they thought, this Jesus fellow were permitted to continue his activity.” [Borchert, 365]
The Jewish religious leaders liked their position of power and influence and didn’t want the Jews putting their faith in Jesus and following Him
Obedience to God’s Word was of less importance to them than their own selfishness and pride
Their refusal to believe is shocking
These were the leading religious’ leaders of the day – presumably the most spiritual men in Judaism
They looked religious and pious from the outside, but they were full of pride and selfishness on the inside
“Their primary concern was maintaining control.” [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 234]
They didn’t want anything to change, even though the Son of God was standing right in front of them
PRINCIPLE #2 – Our selfishness and pride can blind us to the truth.
“You can be religious but lost. You can memorize Scripture and still be ignorant of its truth. You can say all the right things but have a heart that has not been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.” [Carter & Wredberg, 234]
We can think we’re Christians, and yet, not really be Christians
We may be more concerned with maintaining control at church
We don’t want to submit to God and His vision for our church, because it may require us to change, and frankly we don’t like change
We want to tell others how we want church to be, but are unwilling to get involved in leadership
We want to maintain authority, but put the responsibility on someone else (authority and responsibility can never be separated)
My Next Step Today Is To: Confess my selfishness, pride, and desire to maintain control and ask the Lord to help me see His vision for His church.
The Jewish religious leaders were struggling with selfishness, pride, and a desire to maintain control, which caused them to not see that Jesus was the Messiah
As the storyline continues we see that one of their members shares a plan
The way that this member is introduced is probably another indication that this was not an official gathering of the Sanhedrin
Caiaphas was the high priest during the year that all of this is taking place
He was not the high priest for just one year, in fact, he was the high priest for about 18 years (A.D. 18 to A. D. 36)
As high priest, Caiaphas would have been the one to call an official meeting of the Sanhedrin, and he would have presided over the meeting
We get the sense here that he was part of the meeting, but not necessarily in charge of it
Caiaphas speaks down to the other members that are gathered
He tells them that they don’t know what they’re talking about
They aren’t going to lose their positions of power or influence, because they’re going to sacrifice Jesus to protect themselves and the nation
You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.
The concept that Caiaphas presents is Biblical in the sense that God had provided the sacrificial system for the Jews, so they could have their sins covered over until the Messiah came
Passover was the beginning of this sacrificial system
The final plague in Egypt was the death of all first-born sons both of humans and animals
The Israelites could avoid this plague if they sacrificed a perfect lamb for the entire household and placed the blood from the lamb on the doorposts of the house
The remembrance of this miraculous event was to be celebrated every year through Passover
The Day of Atonement was another important sacrificial day for Jews (Leviticus 16:1-34)
Two goats were brought to the priest
One was sacrificed to the Lord as a sin offering for the nation
The other one was set free in the wilderness, as a scapegoat, after the high priest laid his hands on its head and confessed all the sins of the nation, thus placing their sins on the goat
“The goat that was released pictured expiation: the removing or covering of sin. The goat that was slaughtered pictured propitiation: pacifying the just wrath of God.” [Carter & Wredberg, 237]
So, we see that Caiaphas’ idea, to sacrifice Jesus for the nation, comes from God’s sacrificial system
Unfortunately, he’s using this Biblical concept as justification to do something wrong
“He declared his perspective in one of those time-honored arguments concerning ‘the end justifying the means.’” [Borchert, 365]
I’ve never been a fan of the saying, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”
PRINCIPLE #3 – Justification of our sin is sin.
If we are consumed with religion instead of a personal relationship with Jesus, it will lead to spiritual rationalization
“So we begin to play this game: we look at an action that is wrong, and we begin to justify why it’s really not that bad. What we’re doing is coming up with a defense for our actions; we’re justifying ourselves.” [Carter & Wredberg, 235]
I see this all the time when it comes to lying, swearing, gossiping, hatred, what we’re willing to watch online, on TV, or at the movies, how far we’re willing to go with our boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage, whether or not cheating is ok, and on-and-on the list goes
We know what God’s Word says, and yet, we try to justify doing what is wrong
When we do that we create a God in our own image
We’re not really concerned with pursuing holiness and being obedient to God’s Word
My Next Step Today Is To: Confess to the Lord that I’ve been justifying a sin(s) in my life and ask Him to help me pursue holiness.
Caiaphas was simply justifying the killing of an innocent man in order to benefit himself and the other religious leaders
They don’t have to worry about Rome coming to strip them of their power and authority, because His plan will eliminate the “problem” (one for all)
Caiaphas has the perfect substitute to ensure their political position with Rome
What Caiaphas doesn’t realize is that he is not really in control, and that his plan is really God’s plan
John explains this in verses 51-52
Spiritual Substitute (vv. 51-52)
PRINCIPLE #4 – God is sovereign! (He has the right to rule and He rules rightly)
God is in control of everything that’s happening with Jesus and the chief priests and Pharisees
His plan will be executed at just the right time
God can and does use sinners to speak for Him and that’s what we see here with Caiaphas
John tells us that Caiaphas’ plan had a spiritual side to it that he wasn’t even aware of (although he should have known)
Caiaphas was simply sharing God’s plan of redemption, but that wasn’t his intent
John tells us that Caiaphas’ words were really a prophesy about God’s plan to deal with sin in the world and it would encompass both Jews and Gentiles
God’s plan of redemption
Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. (we have all sinned)
I’ve never sinned! (lied, stolen, used God’s name as a curse word, hated, lusted, etc.)
James 2:10, For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
God doesn’t grade on a curve – He doesn’t say, “Well, since you’ve kept 8 of the 10 Commandments, I’ll let you into heaven. I guess 80% is good enough.”
The grade to enter heaven is 100%
If you’ve broken one commandment, you’ve broken them all, which is 0%
We can’t reach heaven on our own
God knew that, so He provided a perfect substitute in His Son Jesus Christ
1 Corinthians 15:3-5, For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
God sent His Son, Jesus, from heaven to earth
He was born as a baby and grew up to be a man
He ministered on earth for three years and then willingly died on a cross to take our punishment for sin
He is our substitute
Jesus took the “Wrath of God” test and passed it with a perfect 100%
He lived on earth and was tempted in the same ways you and I are, but He never gave in, He never sinned
Jesus is God’s perfect substitute.
Romans 10:8-10, 13, But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the world of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with our mouth that you confess and are saved . . . “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
My Next Step Today Is To: Confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, so I can be saved!
God’s plan was for all of humanity
God’s plan was “One For All”
Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, but not just for them but also for the children of God who were scattered throughout the world
The Jews who were reading this would have naturally thought about other Jews who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire (Diaspora)
But John is expressing the fact that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection would also open the way for Gentiles to become part of God’s family
Jesus’ perfect sacrifice would bring Jews and Gentiles together as one – as Christians (Christ followers)
God’s plan of redemption is AWESOME!
Because God is sovereign, He used Caiaphas’ words, in spite of his heart, which was in opposition to Him, to show that Jesus was the perfect spiritual substitute
John concludes this section with some important details for the storyline
Storyline (vv. 53-57)
The Jews plotted to kill Jesus
The Greek word for “plotted” is really “they resolved”
Their minds were made up
“In short, Jesus is not to be arrested in order to be tried; he is to be tried because he has already been found guilty (as Mk. 14:1-2 presupposes).” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 423]
Jesus went north to get out of Jerusalem
God’s timing for Jesus’ arrest and death had not yet come
Jesus was safe under God’s protection until the right time
Jesus took His disciples and headed north toward the desert to a village called Ephraim
Movement to Jerusalem
Those in the region where Jesus was, began to move up to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing in preparation for Passover
Passover was perhaps the most significant celebration of the year, for all Jews
No one wanted to miss out
They didn’t want to be excluded because they were ceremonially unclean
So, they went up early to Jerusalem, went through the prescribed number of days for cleansing, depending on how they had become unclean, and then waited for the Passover festivities to begin
There was obviously excitement in the air
Looking for Jesus
Perhaps every day they go to the temple courts
While they’re there they go to the places where they’ve seen Jesus teaching in the past
There’s excitement and anticipation for Jesus’ arrival
Do you have the same excitement and anticipation about coming to church each week to meet with Jesus?
PRINCIPLE #5 – God is pleased when His people seek Jesus.
What’s your reason for coming to church?
Is it to hang out with friends?
Is it to appease a spouse, parent, or other family member?
Is it to check off a box for the week?
Or is to meet with Jesus, to be encouraged and strengthened through the fellowship of other believers, and to be challenged to grow in your walk with God?
My prayer has always been that you come to church, because you want to become more like Jesus
My Next Step Today Is To: Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare me on Saturday evening to come to church on Sunday morning, excited and anticipating an encounter with Jesus.
The crowd also had questions about whether or not Jesus would even come
This is a result of the orders given by the chief priests and Pharisees concerning Jesus
They wanted everyone in the crowd to keep an eye out for Jesus, so they could arrest Him
Jesus wasn’t in Jerusalem yet, because He needed to stop in Bethany one more time
But, that encounter is for next week
Is there some selfishness, pride, and desire to maintain control that you need to confess to the Lord today?
Is there a sin(s) that you’ve been justifying that you need to confess to God today, so you can begin to pursue holiness?
Do you need to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead?
Do you need to ask the Lord to help you prepare to meet with Jesus each Sunday?
“A story coming from the Kejave Medical Center in Kenya tells about a case involving an eight-year-old named Monica who broke her leg when falling into a pit. An older woman, Mama Njeri, happened along and climbed into the pit to help get Monica out. In the process, a dangerous black Mamba snake bit both Mama Njeri and Monica. Monica was taken to Kejave Medical Center and admitted. Mama Njeri went home, but never awoke from sleep.
The next day a perceptive missionary nurse explained Mama Njeri’s death to Monica, telling her that the snake had bitten both of them, but all the snake’s poison was expended on Mama Njeri; none was given to Monica. The nurse then explained that Jesus had taken the poison of Monica’s sin so that she could have a new life. It was an easy choice for Monica. She then received Jesus as Savior and Lord on the spot (Swindoll, p. 541).
Jesus has taken all our poison. The poison of confusion which so clearly marked the disciples; the poison of sadness and hopelessness experienced by Mary and Martha; and the poison of the chief priests and Pharisees, who directed their murderous intent at Jesus.”
[Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 223].