The guilty verdict to a crime Jesus did not commit and the resulting punishment that took this one man’s life is the focus of Good Friday. As believers we understand that Jesus’ death was a part of God’s redemptive plan for humanity. Death was not an unwilling outcome of Jesus’ life, but a planned sacrifice that would restore humanity’s relationship with God; a relationship that had been broken when sin entered the world.
One Man’s Misguided Rational
Twice John records Caiaphas’s rational that it would be better for one man to die than for the whole nation to perish. (Jn. 11.50, 18.14) Caiaphas believed Jesus was a troublemaker and His death would protect the nation. In fact, Jesus’ death accomplished what the animal sacrifice required by Jewish law, but was unable to do.
What Caiaphas did not understand was that the death of one man would make salvation available to not only his nation, but also to billions of people to follow. In spectacular fashion, the death of one man did not simply protect one nation. It allowed the people of all nations to have the opportunity to experience eternal life.
Out of love God created humans. He warned of the consequences of sin. Although humans chose sin over God and suffered those consequences, God was not satisfied to let the story end there. Had He been satisfied with judgment, there would be no Christian church today, no relationship with Jesus. There would be no hope that does not disappoint. God allowed love and mercy to prevail over judgment. He Himself, through His Son, became the sacrifice that humanity had no ability to ever make themselves.
In the end, Caiaphas was right, though for the wrong reasons. For all of humanity, it was better for one man, one perfect man, to die so that all people would have an opportunity to live.