Tuesday March 15- The Trouble with Jesus

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 14:55-61

Inside, the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any. Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’” But even then they didn’t get their stories straight! Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus was silent and made no reply.

Here is the situation. Palm Sunday has already happened. There are thousands of people who seemed ready to crown Jesus as king only a few days ago. The high priest would have to come up with something terrible that Jesus did in order to turn the mob against him. It has to be something worthy of the death sentence.

But there is also the matter of the Romans. Caiaphas has to come up with something terrible in order for the Romans to kill him. The Romans won’t let the Jews execute their own people.

So, why is there so much opposition to Jesus by the high priest and the chief priests? Think of it.

Jesus is messing with the Temple. The day after Palm Sunday, Jesus disrupts the whole Temple system by driving out the Temple employees. (Mark 11:15-16)

He also prophesies the Temple is going away soon, anyway. (Mark 13:1-2)

So you see, why wouldn’t Jesus be in trouble?  If you are threatening to destroy the center of religious faith and the center of commerce for Israel, how do you think this affects the people who benefit the most from it? For the High Priest and chief priests the Temple is everything.

Jesus is saying he has authority over the Temple and over those who run the Temple. Of course they are going after Jesus.  They have a good thing going. So, the chief justice and his court are ready.  Court is in session.

Things start out bad for the priests. They can’t get anyone to be able to tell testify properly against Jesus. O, they use false witnesses, but they can’t get their stories straight. They need at least two witnesses who tell the same story. You see, in the Jewish law, there has to be two or three eyewitnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15).

So, now what? Caiaphas is clever. Like a good persecutor, he tries to trip Jesus up.

Me

Because you can do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it. For a couple of days, forego a privilege you take for granted.

 

Monday March 14- Caiaphas: The Most Powerful Man in Israel

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Word

Mark 14:53-54

They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter followed him at a distance and went right into the high priest’s courtyard. There he sat with the guards, warming himself by the fire.

Caiaphas. Just what did the high priest do in Israel at this time? More than we can imagine. Here is a brief primer.

We start with Aaron, the brother of Moses. Aaron is the first priest. The priests of Israel come out of Aaron’s line. They first started designating high priests when they built the first Temple.  The high priest and all the chief priests are descendants of Zadok, the first high priest of the first Temple. We get the word “Sadducee” from,

“Zadok.”

Zadok was a descendent of Eleazar, the son of Aaron.

So, for practical purposes, the Sadducees are the rulers of Israel. How?

They are in charge of the Temple and all its operations. The Temple business is sacrificing animals, especially sheep. Animal sacrifice is big business. More sheep skins are sold out of Israel at this time than any other country in the world. The Temple business is Israel’s number one moneymaker. Israel, in turn, is Rome’s richest province. Rome gets more money out of Israel than any other conquered territory.

The High Priest didn’t just head of the Temple and control the funds that are generated.

The High Priest also:

•Administered the state domestically

•Regulated relations with the Romans

•Equipped and led the army

•Mediated domestic grievances

•Collected the taxes

So, the high priest is the Pope, President, Secretary of the State, Secretary of Defense, Chief Justice, IRS, and Bill Gates all wrapped up into one!

The high priest is not appointed by the King nor the chief priests. He is appointed by the Roman governor. High priests usually don’t last too long. But, Caiaphas ruled the longest. 18 years! He is appointed by the governor before Pilate.

He must have been a wheeler dealer of the top order to keep his job! Really knew how to kiss up to the governor.

So think about it. Jesus is now before the most powerful man in Israel. How do you think that’s going to go?

Me

The Sadducees didn’t believe in an afterlife. Today, frequently stop and say to yourself, “This is one day in eternity.”

Thursday March 10- Don’t Get Stuck

Gratitude

Spend five minutes focusing on a couple of things you appreciate and thank God for them.

Mark 14:46-49

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me.”

Swords and clubs and then, right in the middle of the mob, we see one of the disciples attacks the high priest’s body guard and cuts off his ear. We don’t know who he is. The Gospel of John gives it up close and personal. He says the sword fighter is Peter.

Everyone knows when you are going through awful times in life, you don’t want to be alone. But, sometimes even your best friend is going to mess up.

So, Peter tires to defend Jesus. But, it’s not necessary. The religious leaders didn’t need any weapons at all. Jesus wasn’t a revolutionary in a violent way. They know this already. They are looking for a reason to use them. And Jesus doesn’t need defending. That’s why Peter messes up once again. He could have started a slaughter. Mark won’t even name Peter because this action is completely out of bounds. Jesus has nothing to do with armed revolution.

Fortunately, the mob doesn’t turn against Jesus and the disciples. Probably because Caiaphas the high priest, is waiting at home to mess with Jesus. So, Jesus takes this time to teach, once again.Everything that is happening has already been predicted in our Bible. Let’s keep going here. There’s a world to save. I am not going to convince you of anything.

Someone said it this way.

Naïve realism is the intuitive sense that we see the world out there as it actually is, rather than as it appears from our own perspective. Actually, each of us views only a small slice of the world’s people, hears only haphazard bits of highly selected evidence from news outlets or other sources, and talks to only a narrow group of generally like-minded friends.

Me

When is the last time you had an argument with someone about some social issue or politics and someone said, “You’re right, I am changing my mind on that?” Like never? What can you learn from that?