The time has come for us to make a move.
This man has said too much and His actions have gone too far – when His name first began to be spoken in the streets of Jerusalem, I thought the fascination of our people would soon fade away. Jesus of Nazareth would be proven a magician, a man of deception, a fraud.
Instead, their awe has only grown. We tried to discredit Him, to trip Him up – but never could we entangle Him. His answers were exasperating, His ability to remain beyond our grasp infuriating.
Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know how honest you are. You teach the way of God truthfully. You are impartial and don’t play favorites. Now tell us what you think about this: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
But Jesus knew their evil motives. “You hypocrites!” he said. “Why are you trying to trap me? Here, show me the coin used for the tax.” When they handed him a Roman coin, he asked, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”
His reply amazed them, and they went away. (from Mark 12)
Still – we hoped that He would disappear, lose momentum. We talked about what would need to be done if He didn’t…and those conversations soon became inquiries and plans.
For He amazed the people day after day with His works and they followed Him all the more willingly, leaving behind everything to be His disciples. Even among our own, some began to be convinced of His power. And under His influence, even the lowest of men began to question us.
Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them.
Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?”
The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.”
The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”
His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.2 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”
So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”
“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”
“But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”
“Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”
“Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”
“You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue. (John 9: 13-34)
He dared to call us hypocrites, even while He broke Sabbath tradition, ate with sinners, and equated Himself with God. He called us unclean, full of wickedness – we, who are the holiest of men!
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. …These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.
(Matthew 23:27-28 & Matthew 13:8-9)
Can we let such words go unchecked? Can we let Him continue to offend us?
And now – there are more and more who will listen to Him. For now they say He called Lazarus forth from death after four days in the tomb.
But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” – John 11:46-48
The people flock to Him, calling Him King. He did not stop them from waving their palm branches and calling out His praises.
Is He, son of Joseph and Mary, worthy of such adoration? We have tried to get Him to prove His authority to us, to give us a sign – but He only insults us and speaks in mysteries.
One day some teachers of religious law and Pharisees came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want you to show us a miraculous sign to prove your authority.”
But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. (Matthew 12: 38-40)
And now, before these Passover days, to see our people welcome Him like He is royalty? It is enough. We must stop Him before Rome hears of these exploits and determines it to be an insurrection. They will take away all of our authority. They will do away with our control over the temple and synagogues.
And yet – the people are enamored with Him. They will turn against us if we do not tread carefully – if we do not prove that He deserves to be treated as a criminal.
For they will not forget Him and they will not disregard Him – so it is up to us to get rid of this problem, to show our people how He endangers our very way of life.
This Jesus of Nazareth has proved to be a more difficult man to handle than I first imagined – but one of His own has provided the answer. Judas has agreed to lead us to Him – when the time is right, we will arrest Jesus – this man from Galilee who claims to be the Son of our most High God.
We will protect the interests of our people. He will undermine our ways no longer – control will be safely in our own hands.
Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said… “You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”
He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world. –John 11:49-52
Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”…Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in Him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in Me does not believe in Me only, but in the One who sent Me. The one who looks at Me is seeing the One who sent Me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in Me should stay in darkness.” –John 12:37-38, 42-46