Lesson 85: The Council Condemned Jesus to Die / Jesus Left Bethany
Luke 17:11-37, John 11:47-54
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 85. Our reading is going to start in John 11:47 where we left off last time. When Lazarus was raised, you will recall that there were visitors from Jerusalem, friends of Mary and Martha that came to comfort them (John 11:19). The last two verses we read, John 11:45-46 said that (#1) many of the Jews believed on Jesus, i.e. as a result of Lazarus being raised, they became disciples. (#2) Some went and told the Pharisees what things Jesus had done. Normally, you would expect that to bring rejoicing; but, it didn't. Let's read the reaction. We'll begin reading in John 11:47 and read down through v.54. Are you ready? Let's read. "Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doth many miracles. 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. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for the that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 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."
When the word spread in Jerusalem that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, it must have made great waves across the Jewish population, V.45 said that many Jews believed when they saw and heard about Lazarus. Thus, you can see, as these things came to the ears of the Jewish leaders; those that blindly rejected Jesus began to scheme and politic for some way to prevent the masses from becoming Jesus' disciples. The Jewish leaders had already threatened to excommunicate from the synagogues any that acknowledged Jesus (John 9:22). Pressure was mounting. Politics is a game of numbers and those Jewish leaders were losing at their own game. The Sanhedrin council, who mostly fit into that class; began to act. There were a few, no doubt, on that council like Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea who protested any drastic action; but they could prevail nothing. The council asked themselves the question: "What do we?" (v.47). They admitted Jesus' miracles. They said, "this man doth many miracles." And that was highly to their discredit. How could they accept Jesus' miracles and reject Jesus as not being from God? Their greatest fears actually stemmed from a misunderstanding. They thought that sooner or later that Jesus would declare himself a civil king over Israel like the former days of David and Solomon. Thus, they thought (#1) that such a move would bring war from the Romans and (#2) the Sanhedrin would lose it place as a political body, and ultimately the Jews would lose all identity as a nation. In their view, too much had already been relinquished to the Romans. V.48 is a statement of the proposition as they saw it: "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." Their argument in a back handed way admitted that Jesus was making tremendous progress in evangelizing the Jews. The high priest was the chairman of the Sanhedrin council. V.49 tells his name was Caiaphas. This is the first time Caiaphas has been mentioned by name in our study, other than in Luke 3:2, where he was listed with other rulers and leaders. But, this is not the last time we shall encounter Caiaphas so, underscore that name in your mind. He belonged to the sect of the Sadducees, we learn in Acts 5:17. V.50 here is Caiaphas' recommendation to the council; a stunning statement, to come from a high priest. He said, "it is expedient for us..." He DID NOT base his recommendation upon justice or O.T. authority. He thought it would be better to kill Jesus than to lose the whole nation, i.e. lose total control to the Romans and the council lose it's authority. And amazingly, the council adopted Caiaphas' policy. Can you imagine the vote in the council that day? V.53 says, "from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death." In other words, they began their plot to kill Jesus that day. Because of Jesus' many disciples and his recent gain in popularity around Jerusalem; they began to work on some indirect and underhanded way to kill Jesus without up-setting the masses and without revealing themselves as murders. "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews." So, Jesus took his disciples and went to a city named Ephraim. That is city # 22 on your MAP-WORKSHEET. City # 22! The city is also called Ophrah, 0-P-H-R-A-H on some maps. The spelling of Ephraim in v.54. The city was about 15 or 16 miles northeast of Jerusalem. The city was near to the wilderness as you can see on your map and I'm told the city had a great view of the Jordan valley. Why Jesus chose to go to the city of Ephraim; we are not told. I'm sure there was some connection; to Jesus or his disciples; but that connection we are not given. It simply may have been one of the cities where the seventy went two by two and there were disciple there that accommodated Jesus and his apostles for a few days or a few weeks during the time the Sanhedrin scheme and manhunt was going on. But, notice the last phrase of v.54, "and THERE continued WITH his disciples." As I have already indicated, we don't know how long Jesus and his disciples stayed at Ephraim.
Now, back to Luke ch. 17, we want to read v.11-19. Please turn to Luke ch. 17! When Jesus and the disciples (with him) left Ephraim they first went northward. Let's read, Luke 17:11-19. Are you ready? "And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole."
Alright, notice in v.ll that when they left Ephraim they were headed for Jerusalem. However they did not go directly to Jerusalem. They first vent north through Samaria into the edge of Galilee. From there they went down into the Jordan valley and then back down through Perea; the area where they were when Jesus received the message that Lazarus was sick. Then, finally they came with the caravans of people back to Jerusalem a few days before the passover of AD 33. Notice here in v.ll, that Samaria is mentioned before Galilee. Try to follow their route on your map! You'll see, that from Ephraim, they would have gone through Samaria first and then into Galilee. Now, it interesting that in the American Standard Version, v.11 reads like this: "And it came to pass, as they were on the way to Jerusalem, that he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee." Thus, the American Standard Version identifies the village where the lepers were as on the border between Samaria and Galilee. We don't know which village; but, that village was apparently located very close to the line on your map that separates Samaria from Galilee, probably over close to the Jordan rivers some place. Of course, Jesus and the disciples may have gone other places also; but this is all we can identify from the scriptures. Now, in this certain village, there were ten lepers, i.e. men who had the terrible and dreaded disease of leprosy. And the disease of leprosy could be passed on by contact with the person; so, lepers were required by law to stay away from other people. They were not allowed to come within so many paces of others and they were required to yell out and warn others they were lepers. These cast out people usually lived in leper colonies and depended upon their mutual help. Notice in v.12 as Jesus entered into this village on the border of Samaria and Galilee; that ten men with leprosy "stood afar off." It is my understanding that leprosy causes a dried throat condition as one of it's symptoms and a leper's voice is commonly effected. But, v.13 says they lifted up their voices and yelled: "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us," thus indicating, they had heard of Jesus and his healing miracles. Jesus healed the ten lepers. He told them in v.14 to "Go show yourselves unto the priests." If you remember Luke 5:15; we talked about the reason for this. It was required in the O.T. that when a person was cured of leprosy; a priest had to check the leper and officially pronounce them clean before they could leave the leper colony and mingle with the general population again. That requirement is outlined at the beginning of Lev. ch. 13. So, Jesus simply told these ten lepers to go on to the priest and apparently it was when they started in that direction that Jesus healed them. When one of them, who was a Samaritan, discovered that lie was cleansed; he praised God and ran bade and worshipped Jesus and thanked him. Jesus was amazed that only one out of ten came bade to thank him and he was a "stranger", i.e. a foreigner, in other words a Samaritan. There's another good sermon title in v.17, "Where are the nine?" Isn't that about the way it is today? Jesus was their only hope! And Jesus is our only hope of salvation.
Let's finish Luke ch. 17, beginning in v.20. Let's read v.20-37. Are you ready? "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. they did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; and the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together."
Where these Pharisees were in v.20, I'm not sure. Probably in the south of Galilee or in the Jordan valley. Notice their question: they demanded to know, "when the kingdom of God should come." The point is that Jesus and John had been teaching the kingdom of God is at hand for more than three years and the Pharisees were saying in effect; it's about time we see something developing. They of course were thinking in terms of civil authority and revolutionary change of some kind. Jesus made two point in his answer, (#1) he told them "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." and (#2) "the kingdom of God is within you." Not the Pharisees exclusively; Jesus used the word "you" in a general sense. Thus, the coming of the kingdom was not some observable event like a battle in war and further it was spiritual, based on that inner man principle that Jesus had taught over and over. Then as Jesus so often done; he turned to his disciples and taught them about the kingdom. There will be a time, in Jesus' second coming that visible manifestations will happen. But, Jesus warned them that many false predictions and claims would be made; however, they were to ignore all such claims. And, of course, that statement is just as valid to you and me as it was to the apostles. When that second coming comes, i.e. the visible one, it will be like lightening flashing across the sky (in other words, suddenly). But, that would not happen until after Jesus suffered (v.25). It would happen at a later time. When it happens, i.e. the second coming; it will take the world by surprise. Like the days of Noah, v.26-27. No one believed it until the day it happened; even though Noah had preached it a hundred years. It will be like the city of Sodom in Gen. ch. 19, where fire suddenly rained upon the city of Sodom. Only Lot and part of his family escaped by the help of angels. You see, it was a thing not suspected, not expected by the people of Sodom until it suddenly happened. Now, notice: "thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed", i.e. at Jesus' second coming in the end of this age. Some will be prepared and some will not be prepared, v.31. The prepared ones will be very intermingled with those that are not. Do you remember the parable of the tares? (Matt. ch. 13)? The kingdom of heaven is likened to...? The angels will do the reaping and separating the wheat from the tares that are rooted together. The sleeping, the grinding, and the working in the field, v.33-36, are parabolic language depicting the normal industry of this life. At some place upon the earth it will be night. At other places upon the earth it will be day. Even though they didn't have any time zones and understand that fact in the first century; Jesus told exactly how it would be. Jesus gave another good sermon title in v.32, "Remember Lot's wife." That's a sermon in itself. Obviously, the apostles and disciples did not understand all this at that moment; someone asked the question, "Where, Lord?", i.e. where will this take place. They were thinking in terms of some local event. So, Jesus passed over that question by answering with a common cliche of their day, "Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together." So-long until our next lesson! Have a good day.