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 realize 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. (John 11:45–53 NIV)
Jesus was causing all kinds of problems for the religious leaders of the day. They knew the people were attracted to the signs Jesus was performing and were committing themselves to the message Jesus was giving. The people were believing and following Jesus. This brought the religious leaders to convene the Sanhedrin, the gathering of the various religious authorities of the Jews. They knew Jesus needed to be dealt with. Jesus was causing upheaval and threats to their way of ruling. As they spoke to one another, they invoked the fear of Rome intervening and taking away what made them powerful in the lives of the people.
In the discussion that ensued, it was the high priest Caiaphas who gave the final word. Caiaphas said in John 11:50 that it is better for one man to die than the whole nation to perish. He meant that Jesus needed to die so they could go back to what they saw as normal. There is another meaning to these words, a meaning Caiaphas never intended but God did. Jesus did need to die for the nation. Jesus was the Son of God, sent to this earth to be the sinless sacrifice to bring the forgiveness of sins and a new beginning for the Jewish nation and for the nations of the world. This was the redemptive plan of God to reconcile his creation to himself. This is the plan of God for your life and mine. At the end of this passage, it tells us they plotted from that day to take the life of Jesus. The truth of the matter is that Jesus’s life was freely given as part of God’s gracious plan for us and this world.