Matthew 10:16 - (Jesus said) "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."
What a cold-blooded snake.
Caiaphas is the ultimate politician. He sees Jesus as a risk, someone who could bring the whole religious hierarchy crashing down. Caiaphas isn't about to lose his job as high priest, not for Jesus, even if He is a miracle worker, even if He is the actual Messiah. Better to get rid of Him at once. And so Caiaphas says to his fellow plotters: "You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man (Jesus) should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish" (John 11:49-50).
Time to bite the bullet. Make the hard decision. Get rid of one man and save the whole nation. After all, we're living in the real world, aren't we? Not the pretty baby world of morality and fairy tales. We're grown-ups here. And so Caiaphas sets in motion the events of Jesus' suffering and death.
We hear this reasoning so often—from politicians, from businesses, and even sometimes from our own coworkers, friends, or family. And we are tempted. We know what they're proposing is wrong. But it looks like such an easy solution... And we're scared. If we don't go along with it, will our own worlds come crashing down? Should we join the crucifiers with Caiaphas, or should we risk ending up on a cross next to Jesus?
But even here the Holy Spirit is at work. He takes those terribly evil words and turns them into a prophecy: Caiaphas "did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad" (John 11:51-52).
It is for us Jesus died—for all of us who are scared, who are tempted, who worry about what the future will bring. It is even for us who have fallen, who took the easy way out when we knew it was wrong. For us Jesus died, to bring us together again as the children of God, forgiven and made new. For us Jesus rose, that we might be set free from fear and trust in the safety of God's love for us.
THE PRAYER: Lord, give us wisdom and strength to withstand our own fears and the tempting wrong suggestions of those around us. Amen.
Who in your world do you hear saying things like Caiaphas? How do you deal with their pressure on you?
What do you do when you're afraid? Does it help?
If you are willing, tell about a time when you were tempted to take the easy way out. How did God help you?
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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