The Sanhedrin or council consisted of seventy-one men who were unquestionably of Israelite descent. There were seventy ordinary members and the high priest, who was the official president of the group.
Roman law gave the council utmost authority over matters pertaining to the Jews—even the power to sentence to death. They could not execute the sentence of death, but were required to turn the condemned person over to the Romans for that action.
Upon receiving the word of the resurrection of Lazarus, the council met to determine what to do with Jesus. They were faced with a huge dilemma.
The Jews recognized that Jesus had performed many signs (miracles) and if left alone, everyone would believe in Him. They also had seen these miracles and knew that God had to be with Him.
What once had been a religious difficulty had now turned into a political catastrophe. They feared that Rome would come in and take away their seats in government and even their nation. Their political lives were in danger and that was the most important thing to them. One should not let politics, prestige, money, social position or anything else come between God and himself.
Caiaphas, the high priest, told the Sanhedrin that they did not know anything. They needed a plan of action! The solution was for one man (Jesus) to die and not the whole nation. “Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.” (Without even a hearing!)
After hearing of this plot, Jesus and His disciples left and went to Ephraim, a city in an area near the wilderness about sixteen miles northeast of Jerusalem.