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Posts Tagged ‘obstacles to faith’

Over the past few weeks I have taken more time to study one of the chief “villains” in the Easter story, Caiaphas, the high priest who orchestrated Jesus’ crucifixion.  While I have contemplated the Easter story hundreds of times through the years, I have always just lumped Caiaphas and his father-in-law Annas into the group of evil religious leaders who conspired to have Jesus killed by the Romans.  While true, I realize this superficial look misses a vital lesson that we need to consider in our walk with the Lord.

  • How did these men who were steeped in the religion of the Jews miss the coming of the Messiah?
  • As the prophecies were fulfilled why did they not stop, reconsider, and acknowledge that Jesus was who He claimed to be?
  • Finally when Jesus rose from the dead, why did they not get the message then?

Answers to these questions will help us find the right path that they failed to see.  Simply stated “Wrong Motives Made Them Miss the Messiah

For these men, religion defined by their interpretation of the Law, meaned everything.  Most importantly it trumped the relationship aspect that God desires to have with His children.  King David was called a man after God’s own heart because He was passionate to know the Lord.  You can’t help but see this intimacy in many of David’s psalms – see Psalm 51, 91, 139 for good examples of this intimacy.  For Caiaphas the protection of the “purity” of the Law was His responsibility.  As high priest he was the final arbiter in disputes and interpretation of how it was applied.  Viewing his role as the primary custodian of the Law, Caiaphas took exception to any view of the religion different from his.  When asked by one of the religious leaders what the greatest commandment was Jesus response was not about religion but relationships.  From Matt 22:35-40:

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 22:37 (Deut. 6:5) 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 22:39 (Lev. 19:18) 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus’ message of a relationship with God and particularly His boiling the Law down to two keys struck the religious leaders as a direct attack on everything they stood for.  They saw their religion threatened and their defenses were on the alert to any further subversion of their religious practice.  Their religion made it hard for them to see the living God among them.

There was also the potential political threat of Jesus teaching.  Jesus was amazingly popular.  He brought a message to every man, woman, and child of a God Who loved them deeply, Who care for them intimately, and through signs and miracles wrought by Jesus’ hand, was actively engaged in people’s lives.  Under the Roman occupation though popular figures were considered a threat who could marshal the masses to rebel and this was not acceptable.  Both the Romans and the Religious leaders were determined to prevent a rebellion, therefore Jesus walked under a cloud of suspicion.  On a number of occasions Jesus pointedly rejected the political route even though many in the crowd clamored for Jesus to fulfill the popular interpretation of the conquering, kingly Messiah.  But both the Romans and the Religious leadership heard the crowds, they saw them growing, and they felt the threat to the delicate balance in this hotbed of sedition.  Their political view made it hard for them to see the living God among them.

Annas’ was of the Zadokite clan.  The high priesthood had resided in the Zadokite clan for hundreds of years.  When Alexander the Great conquered and rose to power he transferred power away from the Zadokite clan.  The Romans however restored power to Annas’ ancestors building a political and financial relationship that was mutually beneficial to both parties… at the expense of the general population.  Taxes, fees, exchange rates, and monopolies on religious essentials allowed the priestly families to become incredibly wealthy.  They in turn shared some of this wealth with the Roman’s in the form of tribute.  To the religious leaders Jesus assault upon the money-changers and vendors selling animals in the Temple was more than just an attack on their prescribed religious practices, it was an attack on their carefully crafted and extravagant livelihood.  Their lifestyle and the financial pipeline from the religious practices that poured lots of money into their pockets made it hard for them to see the living God among them.

Finally as the story of Easter plays out the religious leaders’ anger, hatred, and rage finds its full vent upon Jesus.  That Jesus does nothing to resist them, nor does He do anything to try and deflect their accusations causes the mock trial, torture, and execution to progress rapidly.  In approximately 24 hours Jesus goes from kind and gentle leader of a small band of disciples to a dead body in a grave.  The book “Killing Jesus” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Duggard brings to light much of the context and backstory that we may not pick up just from reading the biblical text.  The high priest and religious leaders broke numerous religious laws in the way they handled Jesus’ case, however they justified it all on religious and political expediency.  On the third day, when the tomb is opened and the body of Jesus disappears despite a Roman guard stationed at the tomb, I would think that they might have second thoughts about who Jesus was and the validity of their actions.  Instead they make up a story about the body being stolen and attempt to carry on life as normal.  Their pride and their guilt made it hard for them to see the risen God among them.

We’ve looked at roadblocks to recognizing and accepting the Lord for Who He is.  It is also true that these same obstacles will keep us from growing in our faith.  Jesus has called us to live an abundant life.  But it is important to realize that this abundant life begins and ends in our relationship with Him.  Every one of the areas mentioned above: our religious observations, our political leaning, our lifestyle and financial provision, even our emotions are to subservient to our knowing and growing in Christ.  The message of Easter is that Jesus is Alive.  Let us live fully in the reality that Jesus is Alive and wants to live in us more fully every day.  Say “YES!” to Jesus’ continuing work in you and you will experience His love in greater and greater measure day by day.

Be blessed my friend and be God’s blessing right where He puts you today.

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