After the resurrection of Lazarus, the machinations of the Jewish leaders moved into high gear.
“What are we to do, because this man performs many signs? 48 If we let him alone this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”” (Joh 11:47, 48)
They saw that they were losing their power over the people. It is doubtful that the concern about the Romans was anything more than fear mongering. Their real concern was for their own position of power and privilege.
They had to do something, but what? Then High Priest Caiaphas spoke up:
“But a certain one of them, Caʹia·phas, who was high priest that year, said to them: “YOU do not know anything at all, 50 and YOU do not reason out that it is to YOUR benefit for one man to die in behalf of the people and not for the whole nation to be destroyed.” 51 This, though, he did not say of his own originality; but because he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was destined to die for the nation,” (Joh 11:49-51)
Apparently, he was speaking under inspiration because of his office, not because he was a pious man. That prophecy however seemed to be what they needed. To their minds (and please forgive any comparison with Star Trek) the needs of the many (them) outweighed the needs of the one (Jesus). Jehovah wasn’t inspiring Caiaphas to incite them to violence. His words were true. However, their evil hearts moved them to apply the words as justification for sin.
“Therefore from that day on they took counsel to kill him.” (Joh 11:53)
What I found interesting from this passage was John’s clarification as to the full application of Caiaphas’ words.
“…he prophesied that Jesus was destined to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that the children of God who are scattered about he might also gather together in one.” (Joh 11:51, 52)
Think of the time frame. John wrote this almost 40 years after the nation of Israel ceased to exist. For most of his readers—all but the very old—this was ancient history, well outside their personal life experience. He was also writing to a community of Christians in which gentiles outnumbered Jews.
John is the only one of the four gospel writers that makes mention of Jesus’ words regarding “other sheep which are not of this fold”. These other sheep were to be brought into the fold so that both folds (Jews and gentiles) could become one flock under one shepherd. All this John wrote about in just the previous chapter to the one under discussion. (John 10:16)
So here again John reinforced the idea that the other sheep, gentile Christians, are part of the one flock under the one Shepherd. He’s saying that while Caiaphas was prophesying about what he would have taken as only the nation of natural Israel, in fact, the prophecy included not only Jews, but all the children of God who are scattered about. Both Peter and James use the same phrase, “scattered about”, to refer to the holy or chosen ones of both Jewish and gentile extraction. (Ja 1:1; 1Pe 1:1)
John concludes with the thought that these ones are all ‘gathered together in one”, nicely dovetailing with Jesus’ words quoted only a chapter earlier. (John 11:52; John 10:16)
Both the context, the phrasing, and the historical time frame provide us with yet another piece of evidence that there is no secondary class of Christian who should not consider themselves children of God. All Christians should consider themselves as children of God based on, as John also says, the faith in the name of Jesus. (John 1:12)