Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’ He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. –John 11: 49-52
I wonder if this passage of Scripture amazes you as it does me? If you read the Gospels, Caiaphas was no friend to Jesus or what would become the Christian movement. He, in particular, hatched the plan that put Jesus to death, thinking he was saving the region of Judah from Roman reprisal if Jesus and his followers created a ruckus (thereby eliminating a personal thorn in his side while he was at it). How utterly brilliant of God to use this man as a prophet to proclaim His own purposes!
And for what purpose did Jesus come? I personally think the Evangelical Church takes a short-sighted view of who Jesus came to save. It was not the whole world first, creating a melting pot of believers that includes Jews. He came to bless and to save the Jewish nation – which had lost sight of the Messiah’s mission – and then, through them, the “scattered children of God,” including Gentiles. Remember God’s promise to Abraham (paraphrased), “through your seed the nations of the world will be blessed.” First and foremost, the Messiah was thoroughly Hebrew, while his target audience was predominantly Jews. It was not until the book of Acts that we see God’s full plan unfold, embracing Gentiles, too. Addressing this topic in his July newsletter, David Brickner, Executive Director of Jews For Jesus, writes:
“I am so thankful that Jesus brought salvation to the Jewish people, but I am equally grateful that His purposes extended so much further. How strange it is that some Christians either forget or dismiss the first part of [John 11: 49-52] — that Jesus gave His life for the people of Israel. For whatever reason, to some Christians salvation for the Jewish nation seems irrelevant, passé or somehow unnecessary.”
We dare not trod underfoot the special place the Jewish people still hold in God’s heart. I truly believe the uniqueness of the blessing we Gentiles receive through the legacy of our Jewish brethren (in the gender-neutral sense) will become apparent in the hereafter. This does not mean God loves Jews more than He loves Gentiles; only that they share an ancient bond that time and distance cannot break, which has yet to be fully realized.
In Christ, we do not lose our identity, which makes Gentiles’ unity in Christ with Jews all the more special. Let’s join together in prayer for Jews the world over, that their eyes would be opened to the singularly Jewish gift of salvation given to them in Christ. And let’s be aware of our own salvation, extended to us despite Caiaphas’s tragically misplaced attempt to “save” the nation of Israel.