And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him.
It appears that the priest party, under the lead of Caiaphas, had resolved to secure our Lord's death in a council held immediately after the raising of Lazarus (John 11:47-53). But it proved to be a much more difficult matter than they imagined, and weeks passed and found them no nearer to the accomplishment of their purposes. At last they were set upon securing their end by assassination. They tried to devise some way of "taking him by subtlety and killing him."
I. WHY WERE THEY SET UPON NEW DEVICES? Because not only had all their previous devices failed, but they had failed in such ways as had humiliated and angered those who devised them. They could not get an accusation, they could not secure his Person, they would not leave him alone.
1. They tried open arrest; their officers were so impressed by him that they dare not touch him.
2. They tried to make him say such things as they could twist into accusations; they only succeeded in entangling themselves, and humiliating themselves before the people.
3. They had been made the object of our Lord's fiercest denunciations, and this they felt to be so intolerable that they resolved not to lose an hour in seeking their revenge. When men are humbled, they give up their self willed ways. When men are humiliated, they push their wilful ways through to the bitter end.
II. WHAT DIFFICULTIES HAD THEY YET TO OVERCOME? Two special ones.
1. The good will of the people, and especially of the visitors to the feast. If they attempted public arrest, there would be a rescue that would mean a riot, and it would bring down on them the vigorous hand of the Romans, and give Pilate another chance of showing his hatred.
2. The approaching feast time. It was hardly possible to get a good plan arranged before the feast; nothing could be done during the least; and Jesus would slip away from the city after the feast. We can imagine their delight when the difficulties were got over by the treachery of Judas.
III. WHAT REVELATIONS ARE MADE BY THESE DEVICES? They show up both the times and the people.
1. They reveal the estimate formed of our Lord by the people. They always delight in a man who can fearlessly resist official scheming and wickedness.
2. They reveal the prejudiced, malicious, and unreasonable character of the priest party. Personal feeling was allowed to carry away judgment.
3. They reveal the character of Christ. He could not be dealt with as a criminal. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.