Caiaphas - did you know?


William Loader


John 11:47-50

The chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.”  But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” 


Caiaphas, Joseph Caiaphas,


Do you remember Jesus? Or is he just a blur among the many whom you sought to silence for the sake of peace?

Do you remember Pilate? Yes, of course you do. For ten years you had to work with him to protect your people from his excesses and to keep everything calm.

Those luxurious houses our archaeologists have uncovered....  did you also have your own interests to protect? Did you profit from the business interest of the temple, its tourism wealth and its treasures?

You were right. There were dangers. 40 years later it all exploded and the Romans did destroy your holy place and massacre your people.

Have we understood you? You were wanting peace? You could not tolerate popular movements. You feared revolts. Do you perhaps remember Barabbas? Remember? The one that got away? Or is he also just a blur?


Did you ever think that peace without justice and freedom is really no peace at all? Your people were paying a huge cost. Jesus was not leading an armed rebellion. You must have known that. His claims were not outrageous and not without precedent. What is the matter with hope? What is the matter with healing? What is the matter with raising people’s expectations?

He marched on the streets for change. He protested against corruption in your temple. Yet you were prepared to honour Jeremiah and the prophets. Remember how provocative they were and what your predecessors did to them?

What is it with you, politicians? Do your alliances with world powers blind you to the true ways of peace? Passion for law and order always produces collateral damage. Have not such juntas always killed dissent?


Caiaphas, do you know how much hatred you have evoked? Do you know that some of Jesus’ followers not only hated you, but hated your people? Do you know they turned their master’s teaching upside down and sowed seeds of prejudice against all Jews – that led others to invent the horrors of the gas chambers?


Caiaphas, we do not know you. But we know how to kill love when conflict is inconvenient and change threatens us.

Caiaphas, we do not know what you really thought about Jesus. But we know how to render him harmless and make him sound like someone seeking adulation.

Caiaphas, we do not know your people. But we know how to ignore the poor and the hungry and act only in our own interests.

Caiaphas, we do not know what you saw in his eyes. But we know they look at us with clarity, compassion, and challenge.

Caiaphas, you tore your garments and marched him off to Pilate with a charge of subversion. We want to be part of the subversion, part of the conversion, and before the cock crows we want to stay on the journey of peace.


Return to Home Page