Well, Jesus has really stepped in it this time. According to this morning’s Gospel lesson our boy has really upset the powers that be. It appears that this rabble rousing itinerant preacher from Nazareth, this so-called messiah, prophet, healer and miracle maker, along with his rag tag band of followers is becoming a real pain in the hearts and minds of the folks who are in charge of keeping the peace and keeping order throughout the land. This man Jesus, who has been traveling through Galilee, preaching, teaching, performing healing miracles, and urging people to take on a new way of thinking about themselves, their lives, their faith, and their future has gone too far. He has not only been responsible for the beginnings of unrest, disquiet, and opposition to the status quo, he is challenging the authority of the Roman government and that council of Jewish elders, scribes, and pharisees appointed by this government to maintain control over the people.
And have you heard the latest? Recently he restored sight to a blind man. And here’s the kicker, … according to witnesses, he brought this man Lazarus, who had been dead for four days back to life!
This man Jesus is becoming a real problem!
That might have been the tone of the discussion when the Sanhedrin, that body of elders, scribes and Pharisees appointed by the Romans to manage the people, met to discuss the “problem of Jesus”. The members of the Sanhedrin were both fearful and envious of Jesus’ growing notoriety which was undermining their hold over the people. Clearly this man and his movement were having a disquieting effect upon their authority. His popularity throughout the land was growing. People were not only beginning to listen to his message of the coming of the Kingdom of God, they were actually beginning to accept this message and starting to live their lives accordingly!
So, what to do?
The members of the Sanhedrin, fearing that an out of control and increasingly popular Jesus could upset the status quo to the extent that their own power and authority might be threatened, had to take some form of action or run the risk of bringing down the wrath of the Roman government upon themselves.
So it came down to a “him or us” situation. And we all know that whenever it comes down to “him or us”, or “her or us”, or “them or us”, who do we invariably tend to choose?
We all know how this narrative turns out. Jesus, working off of his own and God’s timetable enters Jerusalem triumphantly, preaches and teaches in the temple including engaging in a confrontational meeting with the Sanhedrin, shares a Passover supper with his disciples, is betrayed, arrested, tried and crucified-all of which leads to his resurrection and the forgiveness of our sins.
This morning’s Scripture lesson is an excellent example of how God can take the imperfections, frailties, fears , selfishness and self-interest of his own people and use them to achieve his own plan. We are told through the text that first there are the informers who go to Jerusalem and report to the chief priests and elders on the activities of Jesus. Then we have those within that august council who devise a plot to kill Jesus in order to preserve their own power and authority. Finally, there are those who betray Jesus; either actively like Judas, or passively like his own disciples, who remained silent, flee the scene or like Peter, deny him three times.
All of these individuals were used by God to bring Jesus to the cross and ultimately by his resurrection, the promise of our own redemption. By their actions they were able to execute God’s plan in accordance with God’s timetable . We may question their motives. We may even wonder if faced with a similar situation and having the same amount of information about Jesus as did the members of the Sanhedrin, how we might react. Would we vote to have him killed? Or would we, like some of the members get the word to him and warn him to stay away from Jerusalem?
God wants to use us. God wants us to be his servants; servants to one another and through our actions his ambassadors of love, compassion, and forgiveness. Often our own needs and desires interfere with god’s plan for us, and we succumb to these needs and desires. But god continues to extend to us the opportunity to become part of his kingdom. How do you choose?