“Accidental” Prophecy

Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth 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 that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

John 11:47-52

The Pharisees had clearly had enough of Jesus, but they were still confused about what to do with Him. In stepped Caiaphas. 

Before we look at what Caiaphas says, we need to consider a few things about this man. First of all, God’s design for the office of the high priest was for life, but the rulers had perverted that design and men would bribe or extort the king to gain the position for each year. This means that Caiaphas had bought his way into this position, and was appointed by Herod who was put in his position by the Romans! Further, we learn from Acts, Chapters 4 and 5 that he was a Sadducee. 

And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

Acts 4:6

Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

Acts 5:17

This means he was normally in opposition to the Pharisees because he did not believe in the resurrection of dead. This latter point shows why Caiaphas surely wanted Jesus gone and this latest miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead to be hidden and swept away as a fable.

Caiaphas thought it was pointless to argue whether Jesus was good or bad. He did not share this dilemma with the Pharisees. He concluded that Jesus will die or their nation (and the leadership positions) would perish. That was the only thing on this man’s mind. None of the religious leaders believed that the Messiah would die, so they clearly didn’t believe Who Jesus was.

Caiaphas’ statement was motivated by personal pride and ambition, and as John records, he spoke of one man dying for the benefit of many in that context. 

John then records that God providentially had the high priest speak a prophecy about the death of Jesus.  This was a duty and function of the high priest’s office but this man did it ignorantly.

This “accidental prophecy” is not new in the Bible. God caused Balaam’s donkey to speak (Numbers 22). Pharaoh spoke in the same foolish manner:

And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in that day thou seest my face thou shalt die. And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well, I will see thy face again no more.

Exodus 10:28-29

Caiaphas had an evil intention in what he said but God intended something great for His people!

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1st John 2:2

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