John 11:45-57 (ESVST)
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
As Jesus predicted, after raising of Lazarus, many of the Jews that had come with Mary, the same Jews that were consoling her, many of these beleived. Sadly, not all of them beleived but many. Some of them that I presume were among those that did not beleive, went to the Pharisees and told them that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.
47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “ What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
As soon as they had the news of what Jesus did, the chief priest and the Pharisees had a council meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to answer this question of what are they to do. They were deeply concerned about the signs that Jesus was doing. Their concern was that if Jesus continued to do these signs, everyone will beleive in him and the Romans will come and take away both their place and their nation. This based on history at the time was a legitimate concern as these increasing belief in Jesus as the King, The Messiah, might start a new revolution against the Romans and that would make the Romans come and intervene and taking over the little freedom that they had. As long as they kept the peace amongs themselves, there was no need for Roman intervention.
This in any event did not help because even after they killed Jesus, in AD 70, the Romans did come and take away their temple and nation. So, the killing of Jesus did not necessarily help but, their concern was still a valid one.
49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “ You know nothing at all. 50 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.”
Caiaphas became high priest c. a. d. 18, being appointed by the Roman prefect Valerius Gratus. His father- in- law was Annas, who had previously functioned in that same position from c. a. d. 7–14 and who exercised great influence over the office even after his tenure. Caiaphas remained in office until a. d. 36 when, along with Pontius Pilate, he was removed by the Romans. He took a leading part in the trial and condemnation of Jesus. This same Caiaphas said to them that it was better for one man to die for the nation than for the whole nation to die.
51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
When Caiaphas said this, it was because he had prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation and not only die but also gather all other Jews that were scattered abroad. This gave them a reason they were looking for to kill Jesus and in a way gave them justification. John tells us that from that point, they made plans to kill Jesus.
54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.
Because the Jews wanted to kill him and it was not yet his time, Jesus no longer walked openly.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “ What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
As people went to Jerusalem to purify themselves for the coming Passover, they were looking for Jesus and asking among themselves if he will come. This is because the Caiaphas and the Pharisees had issued a warrant if arrest for him.