John 11:49-52 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
Caiaphas unintentionally prophesied of Christ’s death. He says either Jesus should die, or their nation will die. The irony is that he was speaking truth unknowingly! “better for you that one man should die…” Yes, it is indeed better for us! Jesus came to die for the nation, and “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” He came to die for us. The righteous for the unrighteous. This is the glorious gospel truth of substitutionary atonement.
Paul put it this way in his greeting to the Galatians: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever.”
And what happened to the people of Israel less than one hundred years after they killed Jesus? They lost their nation, their temple, when Rome captured the city. “The Siege of Jerusalem in the year 70 CE was the decisive event of the First Jewish–Roman War, in which the Roman army captured the city of Jerusalem and destroyed both the city and its Temple.
Psalm 2 reminds us of God’s sovereignty in history:
“Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”