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50You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.”

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49. Then one of them, named Caiaphas. It was a short consultation, for Caiaphas did not allow them to hesitate long. He holds out that there is but one way of purchasing safety, and that is, to slay an innocent man. To what a pitch of wickedness do men proceed, who, destitute of the fear of God, form their plans rather from the judgment of their flesh than from the word of God, and who confidently believe that they will derive advantage from that which is not permitted by the Author of every blessing. For what Caiaphas meant may be thus expressed. “They must provoke the wrath of God, in order that they may be happy and prosperous.” Wherefore, let us learn never to separate what is useful from what is lawful, since we ought not to expect any prosperity or success but from the blessing of God, which is promised not to wicked and rebellious persons, who ask assistance from the devil, but to believers who sincerely walk in their ways, (Psalm 91:11.) And yet there was some plausibility in this argument, for the public advantage ought always to have the preference. But — as I have already said — a people is no better protected by the unjust death of an innocent man, than the whole body of a man is protected, when you only cut his throat, or pierce his breast with a sword.

Who was the high priest of that year. He does not call him the high priest of that year, as if he meant that the office was annual, and lasted only for a year; but because it had become a gift that could be purchased with money, and was conveyed to various persons contrary to the injunction of the Law. God did not intend that this dignity should be terminated but by the death of him who held it; 330330     “Par la mort de celuy qui l’avolt.” but, in consequence of trouble and confusion in public affairs, the Romans frequently changed the priests according to their fancy.