Now there happened to be there a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjaminite. And he blew the trumpet and said,
“We have no portion in David,
and we have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
every man to his tents, O Israel!”
So all the men of Israel withdrew from David and followed Sheba the son of Bichri. But the men of Judah followed their king steadfastly from the Jordan to Jerusalem.
And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah, and all the Bichrites assembled and followed him in. And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down. Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.’” And he came near her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” Then she said, “They used to say in former times, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel,’ and so they settled a matter. I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king. II Samuel 20:1-2, 14-22 ESV
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 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.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 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.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. John 11:45-53
Jesus had just raised a man from the dead, and he was becoming very popular. Many people believed that he was the Messiah. This made the religious leaders very worried. They lived under the powerful Roman empire, and the Roman empire allowed them to have their temple and their religious practices. The religious leaders knew they had a good position with Rome, and they didn’t want to lose it. They were afraid that if Jesus attracted too much attention, it would put their whole nation in danger of losing favor with Rome and the special privileges Rome had given them. As they discussed this, the high priest, Caiaphas, said that Jesus should die. It would be better for one man to die rather than for all their people to lose their security and privilege.
Long before, when David was returning to Jerusalem after Absalom had died, a man named Sheba started another rebellion. He got many of the people of Israel to follow him, and another war started. This war ended when David’s army chased Sheba to a city called Abel, and they surrounded the city and prepared to attack. A wise woman in the city wanted to save the lives of the people in her city and save the city from being destroyed in a war. She talked to Joab, David’s commander, over the city wall. She found out who they wanted, and convinced the people of her city that it would be better if one man died than if all the city were destroyed. So they cut off Sheba’s head and threw it over the wall, and that was the end of Sheba’s rebellion.
Sheba died, and his death saved a city. The religioius leaders worked to put Jesus to death thinking they would save their nation. The high priest didn’t realize that when he tried to have Jesus killed, he was actually following God’s plan. Jesus really did die for his people, and not only the Jewish people, but all the people in the world. Jesus’ death wasn’t meant to save the Jewish nation, but rather to save all people everywhere who believe in him. Because of Jesus’ death, our sins are forgiven and we are God’s people. God has brought us to himself through Jesus to live with him in peace and joy forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to die so that we could live with you forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.