As Jesus’ story moves towards its conclusion and He and the disciples enter Jerusalem for the Passover, it might be easy to focus on the betrayal of Judas, and how this parallels our own betrayal of Jesus in our day to day lives. This, however, would be cheap, and would take away from the power of the narrative. We do, all of us, have a tendency towards living our own way, falling short of the glory of God, and the glory set before us in Christ. However, something else has grabbed my attention this morning:
The priests and scribes sought to find a way of killing Jesus “because they were scared of the people”. I’d not noticed this before when reading this passage. The priests, societal power-brokers and gate-keepers, weren’t scared of Jesus himself, they were scared of the impact He, and His message, were having. This indicates that the message was finding traction, that it was causing a stir. The fear exhibited here also indicates some were worried about the upsetting of the status quo, the debasement of the truths of faith which they held dear. Placed in this context, in spite of the fact that there were dozens of “Messiahs” active in Israel at the time of Jesus, it is perhaps obvious why something needed to be done. Silence the leader and the rabble will go away.
Except it didn’t turn out like that, did it.
We live in a culture today where it’s ok to believe pretty much anything, except that Jesus is Lord. There is a societally-driven moral code which is pre-disposed to the expression of outrage, distrust and so on. It can also often show great compassion and care for the “other”. We like, though, to be right, to show our compassion from a position of strength, and to keep those we disagree with where we can see them. I’d go as far as to say that if you disagree with the prevailing cultural norm, on whatever issue, there’s an undercurrent now of a wish that you, and your opinion, would go elsewhere, or better still not exist.
Isn’t this how Jesus and His disciples were treated? Most people who aren’t Christians think the whole thing is preposterous nonsense. Perhaps they’re right (I don’t think so) but it’s amazing how the minutest inkling of a fear that it might be true motivates whole swathes of culture to continually seek, with increasing desperation, ways of proving that it must all be bunkum. If you are a Christian, you’re silly. If you’re a Christian you lack the common sense, faculties of logic, fortitude etc to rise above the crass set of beliefs which must have been forced upon you anyway.
Or put it another way, society is actually scared of you. What if your belief is right? If your God exists? If Jesus is real and He did do what He said He would do? What then? If you believe today, stand firm and confident.