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. Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. Jn 11:45-54
‘It is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” The irony is rich in this prophesy. It was a prophecy. These words were put in the mouth of the high priest by God. But he knew not what he spoke.
Caiaphas, who was high priest during the time that Jesus would die. Basically he was a Roman lackey. The Roman’s deposed and appointed high priests at will during this time. So any mention of a messianic movement was met with hostility by the high priest because it would make the Romans themselves nervous. The high priest would figure it better to kill a man, even if he did do this type of work, then have the whole nation perish.
But Jesus would fulfill the prophecy in a completely different manner. He would die for the people, and in doing so would take on a threat much bigger than the political threat of the Romans. When Jesus died he would die so the people would not perish, but those who heard and believed, not only among the nation, but even those scattered abroad. All the people of god would be gathered and made one in Jesus Christ. Made one in Christ, because we share a common faith, He makes us one, because he is the bread the one loaf from whom we all eat.
However, Jesus dying for the people does not stop the Romans from squashing the nation hard. It does not save them from the threat that Caiaphas worried about. If anything it made the realization of that threat inevitable.