Saturday, March 28, 2009

The right idea - the wrong motivation: Lent 32

"Caiaphas was the one who advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people." (John 18:14)

Caiaphas was high priest in Jerusalem, and he saw "the big picture." Turns our that "the big picture" is usually impacted by politics. So, Caiaphas was right on the money with his assessment, but his wisdom was limited and his vision restricted. He was right but for all the wrong reasons.

Jesus is in Jerusalem, and we have been following much of what he shared with his friends at the Last Supper. But the pandemonium of unfolding events began the moment he set foot in the city, a headlong rush toward the darkness of Good Friday and the startling light of coming Easter.

So Caiaphas was not the first person that week to use the correct words yet miss their meaning by a wide margin. All those teeming, cheering crowds and masses who originally greeted the Teacher missed the meaning of his coming in the "couldn't hit the broad side of a barn" category of misses.

The triumphal entry showed all too clearly the potential of Christ to attract and excite large throngs of people. And this was the fear the civic and religious leaders responded to; it was also Christ's fear - but for different reasons.

Jesus was concerned that a large groundswell of emotional response - without the benefit of discipleship - would misinterpret his vision of God's coming kingdom. Good grief, even his closest friends had a hard enough time grasping things clearly! But, as for Caiaphas, the high priest feared that they really would understand this teacher entirely - and that simply would not do...

Of course, Caiaphas was nowhere near to understanding the teachings of the Master, and consequently the idea of thousands of impassioned followers scared the living daylights out of him. Such a danger simply had to be stopped; such unrest might bring down the ire of Rome; such a response might cost the Jewish leaders what little autonomy remained in the midst of such a harsh Roman regime.

Didn't they all notice that he rode in on a donkey, a symbol of peace? Didn't they understand the Lord's utter indifference to the power structures that define our misguided planet? Hadn't they heard about the pain Jesus felt when he looked over Jerusalem and wept?

Caiaphas way the death of Jesus as a bone to throw the Romans, a demonstration that the Hebrew people wee committed to peaceful co-existence, a way to save lives.
  • Instead, Christ was led to his death as a lamb to the slaughter...
  • Passover blood splashed across the doorways of believers...
  • Revolution on a scale not even Rome could hope to oppose...
  • Danger unimaginable.
PRAYER: If I can ever understand the extent of your love, Lord, I will find the words to thank you. Amen

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