The Man Must Die
The second of our Eye Witnesses to the events of Holy Week at the Agape Centre this week: Caiaphas the High Priest, responding to all that Jesus said and did, not least in driving the moneychangers out of the temple.
the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.’
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realise that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
John 11: 45-53 (NIV-UK)
The man must die. He is worse than that madman in the desert that Herod disposed of a few years ago. John the Baptizer... We breathed a sigh of relief when he “disappeared”... Then this Galilean started stirring up trouble, I almost believed that the Baptizer had risen from the dead... Apparently they are cousins... Well, that explains it... We all know that madness runs in families. But if we do not act quickly the whole nation may run mad.
He may not seem mad... He talks of loving God and loving others... If only it were that simple. But he hasn’t shown much love towards us... He has undermined our authority, with his sermons and his stories and his sayings... Both us and the Pharisees... Now I don’t care what he says about those religious nit-pickers... But when he attacks the priesthood he is attacking the heart of religion in this nation... The heart of the nation itself.
He showed his true colours when he burst in to the temple with his rabble and chased out the temple traders... Called the holiest place in Israel a den of thieves. How dare he! Now I admit that I wasn’t best pleased because those traders pay a percentage of their profits directly to my family for the privilege of serving the pilgrims in this way. And Passover is usually their most profitable time... But its not just the money, it’s the principle of the thing. If everyone had a say about what happened in the Temple where would we be then?
What right does he have? I Caiaphas, am High Priest of the Temple of the God of Israel; I stand in a line of priests that stretches back to Aaron himself... What is this man’s pedigree? Who is his father? A Galilean carpenter... And some even suggest that this was not his real father... That he is a bastard. Will a bastard bring down the temple? Then how will the people atone for their sins if the temple is discredited and destroyed?
When he was challenged he claimed that if this temple were to collapse he could rebuild it in 3 days... It took King Herod 10 years to build it in our fathers time... and this man will rebuild it in three days!!! I thought he was a country carpenter, not a world record stonemason!!!
Three days. If I have my way in 3 days he will be mouldering in a pauper’s grave... But then maybe he can rise from it like his friend Lazarus. Oh, I admit he has done some amazing things... I don’t know what trickery he has used, but he is good... I’ll give him that. But it is giving the people unfair expectations...
How can they get on with everyday life if they expect God to intervene all the time? To wave a magic wand and make everything better. This world is a hard place... And it takes hard men to take hard decisions. And my decision, reluctantly, is that this man must die.
It is better that this one man die than the whole nation be destroyed. If he continues his attacks on us he will destabilise everything... and then the Romans will take over completely... And none of us want that... Do we? But if we act quickly, as soon as the feast is over... When the people are sleeping soundly after too much food and sweet wine... We could get someone to lure him to where we can arrest him without too much trouble and then we can have him tried and handed over to the Romans for execution as a rebel. And then the Romans can take the blame. It may even unite the nation as never before... In a way he will be the saviour of the nation.
One death instead of many... It is a price worth paying...
Lord as we gather to worship this week
May we not make the mistake of thinking that your are limited
To any single sanctuary or particular places of worship
Any more than you are confined by the limits
Of our understanding or traditions.
Overturn the tables of the established order
Sweep away all that brings no honour to you
Forgive us our practice of religion that excludes
Forgive us our complicity in economic systems that oppress
Forgive us our unthinking acceptance of behaviour that is unholy, unjust and unloving.
And may those who have to make difficult decisions
Do so seeing the people behind the balance sheet,
the dangers of losing liberty for the sake of security;
The need for mercy as well as justice.
And may we not simply attend places of prayer
But may we be a people of prayer and action.
For we as it in the name of our Great High Priest
Jesus Christ. AMEN