Caiaphas summarizes what he sees as the imperatives of his day: Either Jesus dies or the nation dies. This is not just a cynical politician's appraisal. There is purpose in Christ's death that far exceeds Israel's survival. Against Caiaphas' intention, God makes his words an announcement of the world-embracing goal and accomplishment of Jesus' death. God makes everything that happens; both good or ill, serve an interest that is bigger than its own.
To be locked up in jail, away from normal pursuits and relationships, might easily elicit a morose and bitter reaction. Paul, however, saw his internment differently. For him it was loaded with purpose. It was part and parcel of his apostleship. Those who become disciples of Jesus are incorporated into his grand gospel project. They may endure opposition and discomfort, but they cannot be excised from the glorious destiny of their Lord.
Some are very hostile to Jesus after he has been doing many wonderful things. Why? because if God is with him--as it appears--they will not be able to retain their unjust status. Do I feel threatened by Jesus? Am I disturbed when I see many becoming his disciples--but not in my 'place' and 'nation'? What have I to lose?
What and insightful picturing of the life humans are obliged to live in godless society. They are locked into a vicious cycle of mutual animosity. Force, threat or fear of retribution will not set them free. Astonishingly and wondrously, love breaks the logjam. Kindness is more powerful than selfishness and hate.
What Jesus has for Lazarus and his sister, is not a boon that awaits them somewhere at the end of their lives or at the conclusion of the present age. To know Christ and to enjoy his friendship is to live in the future already. The life that never ends is in him.
There is a species of compliance which is grudging and minimalist. It springs from a spirit of reluctant necessity and resentful acquiescence. The believer is released from all joyless kowtowing since Christ has made goodness so attractive as to be desired. Christ followers are naturally better citizens because they seize every opportunity for service no matter who provides it.
There are persons in history; some notable for inventiveness or courage; others notable for their infamy. Jesus towers above the rest for this among other things, that he changed the complexion of death from a hideous and pallid enemy, to a friendly face. He introduced the world to a God who gives life--not to take it away--but to be enjoyed eternally. This is God's intention and death is no obstacle to it.
The evil of slavery is not directly addressed in this verse. That was to come later as the wider implications of the gospel dawned on the early disciples. Nevertheless the disfigured human relationship that is slavery, will not be able to withstand the spirit of service to which even slaves are called as Christ's disciples. Even unjust social structures can be brought down--not by disrespect and hostility--but by humility and love for the evildoer.
The sounds produced by air passing over the vocal chords, known to us as words, do have a part to play in the work of God, but only a small part. That which most completely reveals the person is not his speaking but the trajectory of his life. Jesus challenged people to judge him by his actions. To dismiss Jesus is to do a momentous and terrible thing. His pattern of conduct was a submission to God's rule; an acknowledging and enacting of values vital for human existence.
Psychologists report that the average adult lies three times a day. Good people usually think well enough of themselves to dismiss their research. But our social experience ought to tell us that there is probably truth in what they say. All of us have mastered to some degree, the arts of feigning, concealment and affectation. We deploy these talents instinctively for self-defense and self-advancement purposes. That God 'does not lie' is a matter of eternal consequence for u