After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, many people began to believe in Him. This was reported to the Pharisees and so they and the chief priests called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.’
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life. – John 11:47-53
Judas agreed to betray Jesus and so led a crowd armed with swords and clubs to arrest Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.
“Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally two came forward and declared, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’’
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?’ But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’
‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’
‘He is worthy of death,’ they answered.
Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?” – Matthew 26:57-68
Caiaphas is an interesting character in the salvation narrative. What I have always found most intriguing about him is this statement,
“…as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one”
This is true! Jesus did die for the “Jewish nation” and the “scattered children of God”. Caiaphas was right about this, but for the wrong reasons. He thought the death of Jesus would save the physical Jewish kingdom they had under the Romans and their temple building.
Because of this belief, Caiaphas influenced others to join him in plotting to kill Jesus. He then used his position as high priest to convict Jesus and influence Pilate to have Jesus executed.
Caiaphas had the Old Testament Scriptures, the teachings and signs of Jesus, as well as his own prophecy, but missed the truth about Jesus. In spite of not believing in Jesus and his direct opposition to Jesus, he was used to play a part in accomplishing God’s will to work salvation for His children. Caiaphas did not acknowledge Jesus as Lord and yet did exactly as God planned. He did not understand or believe in the salvation Jesus offers and yet declared it with his own mouth.
This is remarkable.
It illustrates the sovereignty of God in a powerful way. Caiaphas was trying to maintain his kingdom and power and yet his actions served to advance the kingdom of Christ more than he could ever know.
In Acts 4, Peter and John are arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest’s family, among whom is Caiaphas (Acts 4:6). They had healed a man who was lame and been preaching the gospel of Christ.
“They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: ‘By what power or what name did you do this?’
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is
‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.” – Acts 4:7-14
We are not told how Caiaphas himself specifically reacted, but the council tried to silence Peter and John and told them not to preach in the name of Jesus anymore, but were essentially powerless to stop them. The had tried to stop Jesus by having him killed and now here were His disciples claiming He had risen from the dead, a situation that they had feared and tried to prevent by having a guard stationed at the tomb (Matthew 27:62-65). They had foreseen that the news that Jesus rose from the dead would spread faith in Him even more than His physical presence before death. Caiaphas was right again, but still missed the truth or denied it.
In a way, Caiaphas saw what God was doing, though he did not think it was God or would not admit that it was, tried to oppose it and couldn’t. All of his efforts to stop Jesus and the spread of belief in Him led to more people coming to know Christ as savior.