Bone Box of the Rich and Famous

The contrast between the two men could not have been more striking. Caiaphas, the high priest, was among the rich and famous, arguably the most powerful Jew alive in A.D. 30. He had married into the high priest's family and now was himself high priest for a year by Roman appointment. With a PhD-level rabbinic education, Caiaphas was urbane and sophisticated.

His counterpart was said to be a craftsman from a hick town in the Galilee who some three years before had quit his job to take up preaching. He had no powerful connections; his popularity might be as fleeting as that of any of the other messianic pretenders succeeding each other year by year. Yet his miracles did arrest one's attention, and this latest one was outstanding. He had raised a dead man back to life in a suburb of Jerusalem where it could be witnessed by many from the Holy City--respected men whose testimony could not easily be set aside.

Caiaphas must have watched the hand-wringing of the council members with some amusement. It was perfectly clear to him what must be done. When he had enough of the unanswered questions and the shoulder-shrugging, he probably raised his hand demanding and receiving instant silence. "You know nothing at all!" he said. "You don't realize that it's better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish" (John 11:49-50).

Caiaphas's words ended all debate and set the course of official Jewry regarding the Nazarene. He must become the nation's sacrificial lamb. Caiaphas apparently never knew how prophetic his analysis was. Jesus truly was the sacrificial Lamb whose death benefited not only His nation, but all of humanity (1 John 2:2). Caiaphas's murder plot became the means by which God blessed the world.

In 1992 archaeologists announced they had discovered the ossuary (bone box) of the family of Caiaphas. This ornately carved, stone container is the only remaining memorial to the man most responsible for putting Jesus on the cross. His wealth is dissipated, his influence gone, his name all but forgotten. He could easily have been the model of the Nazarene's word-sculpture of a man who gained the whole world and lost his soul (Matt. 16:26).

Copyright 2005 Steve Singleton, All rights reserved.

Steve Singleton has written and edited several books and numerous articles on subjects of interest to Bible students. He has taught Greek, Bible, and religious studies courses Bible college, university, and adult education programs. He has taught seminars and workshops in 11 states and the Caribbean.

Go to his DeeperStudy.org for Bible study resources, no matter what your level of expertise. Explore "The Shallows," plumb "The Depths," or use the well-organized "Study Links" for original sources in English translation. Sign up for Steve's free "DeeperStudy Newsletter."

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