“If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both OUR PLACE and OUR NATION.” (John 11:49)
Why did not the chief priests and the Pharisees follow Jesus, in light of the amazing reports they had just received about Him raising Lazarus from the dead? (:46) Here we find the reason: they said they were afraid of losing “their place” — as leaders of the Jews, as the Council that led the people, and their own individual places as spiritual leaders. They also did not want to endanger the sovereignty of “their nation”, which they were afraid would suffer in the Roman reprisals for the uprising they expected with the coming of a Messiah. There was much for them to lose if they followed Jesus.
This is actually the basic “stumbling stone” to following Jesus for many people today: they don’t want to lose what they enjoy having: “their place” as Lord of their own lives; able to do whatever they feel like doing without restraint; as a prominent person respected by the intelligentsia, etc., “their little world” they already enjoy.
These are indeed true costs of following Jesus; there can be no dispute about that, and they should be weighed as we consider following Him. Jesus commanded His potential disciples to count the cost. (Luke 14:28) Following Jesus IS indeed worth it. But sadly, many, like these men, are not willing to give up a temporal earthly place, and fleeting personal pleasures, in exchange for eternal glory. Like these Jewish religious leaders in John, “they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” (John 12:43) This poignant passage reminds us that we must be willing to lose our “place” to follow Jesus.