“Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:14).

The death penalty, known as capital punishment, is a government- approved practice of executing a person for certain crimes. The death sentence is given for capital crimes and varies by country. The word capital comes from the Latin capitalis (meaning “of the head”) and refers to execution by beheading.

While thirty-six countries of the world practice capital punishment, 103 have abolished it, and some use it only for special circumstances or have not used it for at least ten years. The European Union prohibits the use of capital punishment, as does the Council of Europe. The United Nations General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions. In the United States, thirty-two states and the federal government consider capital punishment a legal penalty.

Caiaphas, the high priest during the time of Jesus, was the one who recommended that Christ be executed. As chief spiritual leader of the nation, his words carried great authority and were followed. After the resurrection of Lazarus, fear among the Pharisees and chief priests led to a council where it was said, “If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation” (John 11:48).

It was in this context that Caiaphas said, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish” (verses 49, 50). With- out knowing it, he had prophesied of Christ’s death. “Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death” (verse 53).

Christ was eventually brought before Caiaphas and unjustly condemned. The high priest not only broke many judicial laws but also consented to the death of the Son of God. In order to protect his temporary position, he lost eternal life.

Dear Jesus, though You were unjustly tried and condemned, You freely stood in my place so that I would not have to face eternal death. Thank You!

For Further Study: Deut. 16:18–20; Matthew 26:57–66; 1 Peter 3:18

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