“Scenes from the passion” Lent devotions for Saturday, March 13, 2021. Photo by Alfred Aloushy on Unsplash.
And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows. (Mark 14:53-65)
Someone didn’t do their job. After all the plotting and planning to get their hands on Jesus, they can’t find anyone to testify against Jesus. Without two witnesses, the law of Moses says they can’t do anything. They can’t even find anyone who knows how to lie. What a joke.
Jesus just stands there. He doesn’t say a word while these guys make fools of themselves. Finally the high priest just asks him, “Are you the Christ?” Jesus simply says, “I am.” Then he adds, “Oh, and by the way, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
That’s all it takes. The high priest loses it. Even though the law says he can’t do it, he rips his clothing in fury and charges Jesus with the heinous sin of claiming to be God. It’s a capital offense. He must die.
Suddenly the playground bullies come out in all of them as they spit on Jesus, slap him around, and see if he can guess who hit him. The religious leaders who have been entrusted with the holy things of the temple are acting like little kids on the playground, teasing, taunting and abusing Jesus.
But then God’s people have always been like that. The sons of Korah wanted to depose Moses and Aaron in the desert. The Philistines can’t wait to give Samson a haircut and rough him up. Absalom wants the throne of his father King David. The satraps want to feed Daniel to the lions. The God-chosen leaders of God’s people have a bull’s eye on their back. They are the target of jealous, power-hungry opponents who will do anything and everything to be king of the hill.
The church isn’t much better. Rather than encouraging and serving one another we childishly tattle on each other, call each other names and argue for our own way. And what does Jesus do? He just stands there, where two or three of us are scuffling. He lets us bicker among ourselves. Would we act that way in front of Jesus seated at the right hand of Power? Will we be acting that way when he comes with the clouds of heaven?
Probably. That’s just the way we are. And we deserve death for being like that.
That’s when Jesus steps in. He dies instead of us. He gives up his throne. He gives up his power. He gives up his life. He gives it all up to show us that he and he alone is the Christ, the Savior, and the king of the hill.
Heavenly Father, just help us to stop bickering long enough to realize how much you love us in Christ. Amen.