LET THE GAMES BEGIN
“Therefore, Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead, He withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where He stayed with His disciples.
“When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, ‘What do you think? Isn’t He coming to the festival at all?’
But the chief priests and the Pharisees gave orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest Him. “John 11:54-57 NIV.
So, this is what happens when a person does the right thing! Since He brought a dead man back to life, He was considered public enemy number one. In the eyes of the Jewish leaders, He was dangerous and an enemy of the state. They siphoned all their personal issues against Him into this apparently legitimate reason for having Him caught and brought to trial.
For Jesus, it was not a matter of if but when He would be executed. He had to be careful not to show Himself prematurely. He had to fit perfectly into His Father’s timetable and into the fulfilment of all the types and shadows and Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, so He remained out of sight until the appropriate moment.
The Sanhedrin had already decided that it should not happen during Passover because the situation was far too volatile (Mark 14:1, 2). Jerusalem would be filled with Jews from all over Israel and farther afield. Jesus was too well-known and popular to risk a riot at that time. Howvwe, it was Judas who forced their hand by betraying His whereabouts on the eve of Passover. They might not get another chance to grab Him when He was not expecting it.
According to John, they had issued an order to anyone who knew where He was to inform them. Unfortunately for them, Jesus was no ordinary fugitive. He was in charge. He would show Himself and give Himself up at the precise moment, no matter what their plans and instructions. There were things He had to do before He finally left His disciples. Whether the Jews thought they had Him in their power or not, was irrelevant. He had already made it clear to His followers that no-one could take His life from Him. He would lay it down for the sheep at the perfect moment.
So, He played cat-and-mouse with them. After raising Lazarus and creating a furore, He remained out of sight in a village off the beaten track. Were the ordinary people aware of the Sanhedrin’s intention? As the worshippers assembled in Jerusalem for the ritual preparations for the Passover, He was the subject of their conversation and the object of their curiosity. Where was He? Would He dare show Himself in Jerusalem during the Passover? Would He risk another public standoff with the Jewish leaders? Tongues wagged all over the city.
The “Jews” laid their plans and waited. They could arrest Him and keep Him in custody until after the Passover when the city returned to normal – so they thought. As long as they had Him safely locked up, they could breathe easier.
But God…. had other plans and Jesus was in on them, waiting on the Father to reveal His hand in His time. The Lamb of God has to die at the precise moment when the high priest raised the knife to slaughter the first sacrificial lamb that marked the beginning of the Passover ceremony. He had to ride into the city on a donkey as an indication of His claim to the throne of Israel, but not as they expected. He was asking for the allegiance of men’s hearts so that He could reveal the Father to the world through them.
Two kingdoms stood on the threshold of the greatest battle ever fought, the kingdoms of darkness and light, and the outcome was already determined from before the foundation of the world. Only Jesus knew what lay ahead and He was ready for it.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.