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Lent is a time for Christians to fully examine their relationship with the Lord. Through prayer, sacrifice and service, we develop an understanding of what it means to "take up your cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) As Christians, we are called to live Christ's life- not to study the life of Jesus and try to be like Him, but actually let Him live through us.

In my own journey this Lent, Our Lord is asking me to fully understand His love. Through several prayer experiences, I hear him calling me to this deeper understanding of His love- not just with my head, but with my heart. And the key to understanding that amazing love is to understand His suffering. My intellect understands that the Lord suffered, but I have never explored His suffering with my heart. His love is greater than His suffering, but how great was that suffering?

I am participating in an independent Threshold Bible Study called People of the Passion by Stephen J. Binz. In this study, I will explore the meaning of discipleship through the people who encounter Jesus during His passion. These people witness and are impacted by the suffering of Jesus. They saw the suffering of our Lord first hand. It is my hope that by going on this journey through their eyes, I will have a better understanding of His suffering and then of His love.

Please know that I am not a scholar. I have no formal education in theology, philosophy or church history. I'm just a regular person trying to make sense of what Jesus is asking me to do- to love like He loves.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 13- Caiaphas Charges Jesus with Blasphemy

Matthew 26:57-68
Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas 31 the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. Peter was following him at a distance as far as the high priest's courtyard, and going inside he sat down with the servants to see the outcome. The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin 32 kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two 33 came forward who stated, "This man said, 'I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.'" The high priest rose and addressed him, "Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?" But Jesus was silent. 34 Then the high priest said to him, "I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God." Jesus said to him in reply, "You have said so. 35 But I tell you: From now on you will see 'the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power' and 'coming on the clouds of heaven.'" Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! 36 What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; what is your opinion?" They said in reply, "He deserves to die!" 37 Then they spat in his face and struck him, while some slapped him, saying, "Prophesy for us, Messiah: who is it that struck you?"

In this passage, Jesus is put on trial before the high priest.  They know that they can not find solid evidence upon which to convict him, so they find several false witnesses to testify against Jesus.  In the end, they get him to admit that he is the Messiah.  Immediately Caiaphas charges him with blasphemy and issues the death sentence.  Jesus' fate is a little more sealed.

I am struck by the difference in Peter at the trial as compared to his behavior when Jesus was arrested in the garden.  In the garden, Peter fights Jesus' attackers with a sword.  He is ready to do what it takes to protect his Lord.  But at the trial, Peter sneaks in and sits with the guards so as not to draw attention to himself.  He sits and he watches.  And that is it.  He never stood to defend the Lord.  He didn't try to save Him.  Was he afraid?  Was he obeying the Lord's instructions regarding his behavior in the garden?  Has he given up in himself or has he surrendered to the will of God?  He must have been pretty calm, cool and collected to be able to sit with the guards and not draw attention to himself.  I wonder what was going through his head.

I am also struck by the difference in Caiaphas and Jesus.  Both are leaders in their community and both hold power.  Caiaphas sees Jesus as a threat to his power.  He is afraid that Jesus is going to take some of that power away from him.  So, he wants to get rid of Jesus.  Caiaphas wants to take a life in order to keep his power.  Jesus has a different approach.  Jesus is going to sacrifice his life and conquer death to show the world his power.  Jesus is ready to give his life.  Caiaphas wants to take and Jesus wants to give.  It is easy to see which person is the true priest- the one who embraces the love of God rather than the love of power. 

I find it interesting that one of the final false witnesses testifies that Jesus said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days.  This statement is not entirely untrue.  Jesus is eluding to himself.  He will allow himself to be destroyed, but then he will rise from the dead and walk this earth again just three days later.  If I were Caiaphas, and the following week, I heard that Jesus was risen from the grave, I think I would be doing a little repenting.  Caiaphas must have been shakin' in his boots.

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