Today's Lectionary Text
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.
Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.
Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
This story provides some fascinating insight into the thoughts of the religious leaders who conspired to kill Jesus. Like many great villains, their motivations come from a misguided attempt to do good. Caiaphas and his colleagues look at all the good Jesus is doing among the people, and all they can see is the trouble it could cause with their Roman rulers. After all, the Romans, surely, would not be happy to hear that the Jewish people were rallying behind Jesus in the hopes of making him their new king. That news could mean disaster for the Jewish people. So, these religious leaders are concerned with maintaining the relative peace of their status quo.
Unfortunately, though, these leaders’ concern for maintaining the status quo makes them too shortsighted to perceive what God is doing through Jesus’ ministry. Their fear of the Romans stifles their imagination, and they can only see Jesus as a threat. They can’t see that Jesus has come to liberate the people, but not in the way that anybody expects. Jesus has no intentions of inciting a violent revolt against the Romans. In his mission of liberation, the only blood Jesus will spill is his own. Jesus has in mind something bigger and better than Caiaphas’ fearful mind can imagine.
This leads me to ask myself: Where is my fear leading me to miss and even work against God’s purposes? Where am I settling for a status quo that is less than what God wants for me or my community? And, how can I overcome my fear and expand my imagination to become more in tune with what God is doing in me, my relationships, and my world? May we learn from Caiaphas’ mistakes so that we don’t miss what God is doing in the world around us.
St. Andrew’s UMC
Prayer for Reflection
Lord Jesus, I want to be your servant. I pray that you will help me expand my imagination so that I can perceive what you are doing in the world around me and join you in that work. Amen.
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