Caiaphas epitomised the state of the Old Covenant with the Jewish people. It was corrupt and desperately in need of a saviour. But it was also a covenant with God, who is always faithful. And in keeping with the promises of the covenant God spoke through this corrupt High Priest of the Temple, whose prophetic words even he did not understand.
“It is better for one man to die for the people.” Caiaphas has already decided that Jesus must die. But “for the people” is interpreted as to protect the priestly class of Jews from Roman aggression.
Christ indeed will die. But He will die at the time appointed and for the reason of the Father’s will. Christ will indeed die for the people. And He will die for the people who killed him as much as for you or I. But His death is not for our worldly gain but rather for our eternal salvation.
How often do we cloud the Word of God with interpretations that we want to hear, or explanations that justify our own worldly desires? How often must He speak before we listen with our hearts?
The Word of the Lord is not ambiguous. It speaks clearly of Christ’s call to faith in the redeeming love of God. Let us reflect on the breath of life that is the Holy Scriptures and how it shapes our lives in the love of God – for the Word of the Lord is alive and active, penetrating the darkest corners of our hearts to make His message the core of our existence.
Consider for a moment the nature of our salvation if Jesus were not the Son of God, consubstantial with the Father. What hope would we have for eternal life after the end of our days on earth? The act of our redemption comes not from Christ’s miracles and teachings but from what those miracles and teachings tell us about His true nature and purpose: that although he was God, He did not shrink from a criminal’s death in order through it to gain for us our salvation.
If he were just a good man, then in following His example we could only ever hope to be lesser good men than He was. But he was not just a good man. He was not just a virtuous and caring and wise and compassionate man. He was God made man. He is God made man – His holy humanity ascending bodily to the glory of the Father, giving us hope for that day when He will raise our mortal bodies and make them like His own in glory (Philippians 3:21).
For ourselves, too, our good works amount to little and can certainly not earn us salvation. It is faith that saves. And it is only when faith illuminates our actions with the love of God that our works have value, not of themselves, but as the manifestation of God’s love in our lives lived in faith that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
We were created through Christ, the Word of God, that spoke out over the darkness and formed the world as we know it. By the power of the Holy Spirit, that same Word has been made known throughout the history of our salvation through the prophets, and in our own time through the Word made Flesh in Jesus Christ.
It is no wonder that Christ asserts that His Word is our life. It has been a message constantly proclaimed through all the prophets that, “man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”
Let us cherish the Word of God with all reverence and accord it due prominence in our daily prayer. May the Scriptures be the source of our life in Christ – a word that when listened to with the ears of the heart, becomes the source of our understanding of God’s love; the commission that sends us forth to do God’s will; the whisper that brings us comfort in our day of distress; the guidance that teaches us about our true nature and destiny in God; and the inspiration that ignites hope for the life of the world to come.