One Man Should Die For The People

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The scene seems mundane – religious leaders meeting to discuss a perceived threat. But this simple gathering would set in motion events that would shake the world. As they plot to kill an innocent man, little do they realize they are fulfilling an ancient prophecy that a lamb would sacrifice himself to save all humanity.

Jesus had recently raised Lazarus from the dead, an astounding miracle that threatened to upend the religious leaders’ power. In secret conclave they debated how to stop this Jesus movement. Yet in their machinations lay profound spiritual truths about the human heart, the nature of sacrifice, and God’s sovereign purposes.

The religious council’s attempt to kill Jesus not only reveals man’s persistent irrationality in the face of truth, but also the supremacy of God – who can use even the sinful actions of men to accomplish his purposes. And it points to the heart of the gospel itself – that substitution is the hope of humanity, as an innocent lamb lays down his life to take away the sin of the world.

  1. Unbelief is more irrational than you think. Even though the religious leaders witnessed miracles performed by Jesus, many still did not believe in him. This shows that unbelief is often due more to not wanting to submit to Jesus than to actual rational objections.
  2. Jesus’ kingdom will displace every other kingdom. The religious leaders were threatened by Jesus because they knew his kingdom would displace their power and positions. Ultimate loyalty to anything other than Jesus is foolish.
  3. God is supreme in power even over the sinful actions of people. The religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus out of self-interest, but God used their actions to fulfill his sovereign purposes through the crucifixion.
  4. Substitution is the heart of the gospel. Without realizing it, Caiaphas prophesied that Jesus would die for the people as a substitute. The core of the good news is that Jesus died in our place to save us. All life-changing love is sacrificial and substitutionary.

As we remember Jesus’ sacrifice today in communion, may this truth transform and renew our lives. May we be inspired to lay down our own plans, our sovereignty, our wills – and take up the call to sacrificial love for others that Jesus modeled.

Many face suffering today at the hands of others, pain unjustly inflicted. But take heart – God’s sovereign purposes are at work even through the darkest moments. Your story is not over – there is resurrection life ahead. And whatever sacrifice you endure, know that it pales in comparison to what Jesus suffered to save you.

So rise up with hope and grace to love like Jesus loved. He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God. And his life-changing love was the ultimate substitution – so that through his death we might have life.


John 11:45-54

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