Hello and welcome to Thursday’s Podcast. This week we’ve been asking the question: who is Jesus and what does this mean for us this day – whether we are at home with the kids, at school, at work, wherever we are and whatever we are doing – who is Jesus to us in those moments and how does that shape how we live out our lives?
Today’s reading is John 11: 45-57. We’re going to focus on verses 49-50:
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.”
Jo and I, after experiencing some serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) decided to get involved in watching HBO’s highly acclaimed miniseries, Chernobyl, which depicts the tragic events following the nuclear accident which occurred there in the 1980’s. It’s an incredibly haunting and thought provoking drama – knowing that so many lives were affected by the horrendous accident and the subsequent decisions that were made following it. We’ve just finished episode two which ends with an attempt by the authorities to prevent a further catastrophic explosion of the nuclear reactors happening. It is decided that three workers from the plant will have to go back in and manually fix the problem from within. In the meeting where that decision is made, one of the scientists, Valery Lagasov, knowing that this is the only way to reach and attempt to fix the damaged reactors, and at the same time realising that this means exposing these workers to such extreme levels of radiation poisoning is asked the question by the State Commission, ‘What do you need from us?’. He, knowing all of this, replies ‘I’m asking for the State’s permission to send these three men to die.’
And yet, the truth of Caiaphas’ statement which we read at the start, that it is better for one man to die so that a whole nation doesn’t perish, does make seem to make sense. In stepping into that nuclear plant these men were bringing about their own death but potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives in the process. The State, who gives the order for these men to be recruited for this task, deems this as an acceptable sacrifice to make.
And this is sort of the thought process going in the heads of the religious leaders we read about in today’s passage who at this point are convening a council to devise a way to put Jesus to death. To them getting rid of Jesus means squashing what they deem to be a potential revolution and at the same it would keep the Roman Empire off their back. You can see the logic – one man dies so the people don’t have to suffer. What they don’t realise is that the sacrifice Jesus makes will be not just be for their nation but for all nations, and that the result of which will be far beyond anything they could ever possibly contemplate.
In watching that episode of Chernobyl, I was so moved by these men and their sacrifice for the people and yet at the same time I was also hit with a powerful realisation that Jesus did this for me, for us, for all mankind, in an even greater way on the cross. What’s more he went to the cross knowing what it would entail. Sadly the nuclear plant workers weren’t given the full picture about what they were signing up to – they only discover that at the last minute when they enter the flooded radioactive site. Jesus does know the consequences of going to the cross. He knows the great victory he will bring… but he also knows the cost and he embraces it.
Jesus paid the ultimate cost. And he knew he had to because it was the only way it could be paid. The one who lived the life we should have lived, dies the death we should have died. Jesus takes our place. This is the ultimate sacrifice. Through it we are saved, rescued from the weight, the cost of our sin. We are free!
And yet, as we spoke about yesterday, these amazing truths of our faith can become blurry or forgotten amidst the distraction, busyness and challenges of everyday life. It just happens. The truth gets buried beneath the weight that the world begins to pile back on us again.
But then there are moments when God just reveals something to us that totally strips us to the core of who we are. And we glimpse our brokenness, our humanness, our need for a saviour. And we see Jesus. We see the sacrifice he makes; the death he died for us and God opens our eyes again and exposes us to the awesomeness of his grace. And it’s in those moments that we see that are being changed, that we remember again that we are free – free from guilt and condemnation, free from the worries about the opinions of others, free to live the life God has created us for, free to give ourselves away for the sake of others.
And it’s those moments where we get a glimpse of the life of worship that awaits us into eternity –as known, loved and precious children of the king.
Jesus, thank you that you died on the cross for us. Thank you that you have saved us. Lord, as we listen to this podcasts, as we engage with the Grow Project, as we read our Bibles and as we pray we ask that you would open our eyes to enable us to see you more fully and to embrace the resurrection life you have won for us.
READING: John 11:45-57
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees 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 realise 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.
Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, ‘What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?’ But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.