Matt: 26 V57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led [him] away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
The Accusation of the Religious
Have you ever been to the house of Caiaphas? I have. I’ll bet you have too. If you have ever known the suspicion, or worse, maybe even the rejection of the very ones who should have been on your side, you have – you’ve been there. I guess there is no way to get around it, not if you’re committed to doing something great for God.
I’ve been there a few times, twice for real. At least that is what the guide said during one of our trips to the Holy Land. We were in Jerusalem and stopped to visit a site that our guide identified as the probable ruins of the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest who interrogated and convened a Kangaroo court to try Jesus the night He was betrayed. We saw the dungeon that had no entrance or exit, except a hole that had been hewn through the rock for a prisoner to be let down into the dungeon by a rope. It was a dreadful place even then after all that time.
As I wondered around and explored the area, I got lost for a moment in my own thoughts about that place and the events that had occurred there so many years before. I guess the emotion that I felt the most was sadness. Sadness, because of the way they treated Jesus, sadness for the misunderstandings of the Jews that caused them to miss the greatest opportunity of their lifetimes. Sadness for the ones through history who, like Caiaphas, came face to face with their destiny and took the wrong side, held the wrong position, made the wrong decision. For everyone who has known the pain of rejection, the discouragement of being dismissed as nothing by those who should be celebrating your presence, this story is for you. Jesus knew exactly how that felt.
The night He was arrested and taken to the house of Caiaphas must have been one of the great disappointments of His life. While it certainly did not catch Him by surprise, for Israel was notorious for rejecting those who were sent to them by God, it was still, no doubt, a somber moment of sad confirmation. This moment had been anticipated prophetically and Jesus was all too aware of its approach. As He was led there, I wonder if His proclamation of just a few days prior was on His mind. I could not help but think of His weeping over Jerusalem and longing for a different response from the people. He clearly knows what to expect as He says in
Matt. 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” Vs. 38, “See your house is left to you desolate.”
When you think of the prophets who predicted His coming and the sincere believers who longed for the consolation of Israel, one would think that His coming and their day of visitation would not have been missed. The Jews for generations had anticipated the coming of the Messiah. They sang songs about it, taught about it, and told stories about what it would be like. They longed for His coming. So why did they miss it when it was right before their eyes?
Ideas of how and when He would arrive were many and equally diverse. Jewish families were so anxious for Him to come that they would normally set an extra place setting at their tables in case the Messiah would unexpectedly show up at mealtime. A seat was also reserved at every synagogue for the Messiah for the same reason, and no one was allowed to sit there except the Messiah. That is what almost got Jesus stoned in Nazareth when after reading the passage from the prophet Isaiah; He sat down in that special seat and said in
Luke 4:21, … “today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Old Testament prophecies were replete with hope of His coming. These texts were prominent in the minds of the Jews. How could they not see and realize He was among them? Religious blindness, plain simple religious blindness.
The sad truth is that often the disease that plagues our vision of God’s purposes and our ability to interpret His truth is the blindness of religion. Religion that is not built upon relationship will impair your ability to see and hear the Lord in your day of visitation. Religion alone leaves us with toxic ideas about God and the things of God. It causes us to presuppose certain things about God that may not be accurate, and to assume an inflexible posture that is very limiting to our vision and potential. Often self-righteousness and bitterness are the final outcome of religion without relationship with God.
To most Jews in the first century, the Messiah represented something more political rather than spiritual. Most anticipated a Messiah who would be a great warrior, or would liberate them from the hand of Roman oppression as Moses had rescued them from Egypt. They expected a Messiah who would set up an earthly kingdom in Palestine with Jerusalem as its capitol, and drive out the western invaders, namely the Greeks and Romans. The tragedies of their own experiences had blurred their religious insight and had produced a religious mentality with a singular focus on survival and continuation. It was one that is built upon a “me, myself, and I” attitude which is anti-God and certainly anti-Christ.
This condition was not exclusive to the first century. Many religious institutions are in this same condition today. If you’re not like them – if you don’t hold the same values and views that they do, then you represent something to be resisted, or at least isolated. I’m not speaking of the necessity of sharing a common core of beliefs. We all know that is needed. What I am speaking of is a lack of open-mindedness to the fact that God not only works in our little boxes, and He will do that, but also outside of them as well. Since so much of this kind of religion is about control, the idea of God doing something that we never would believe He would do, and maybe through someone that we never thought He would use, can frighten us. It can cause us to react in ways that we would not normally react.
Israel missed the identity of the Messiah because of their religious preconceived ideas of who He would be, what He would do and where He would come from. Basically they could not see the truth because they were blinded by their expectations that were based on misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Scripture. Below are several coaching suggestions for learning to think outside the box and protect yourself from this kind of limited thinking:
- Practice using your imagination to think creatively. It is a gift from God and one of the greatest demonstrations of divinity deposited in man. Using your imagination allows you to change your prospective without making a commitment to change your situation. It allows you the opportunity to contemplate other ideas, perspectives, possibilities in a safe non-threatening environment.
- Guard your hope. Hope – This is an attitude of optimism, as well as possibility, and is the garden of potential. Faith will not work if hope is absent. (Heb. 11:1)
- Educate Yourself – This requires you to process new information from sources that are outside your frame of reference. Many solutions to your limitations and problematic situations await your discovery in the world of information that education will introduce to you. Albert Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”
- Make Right Relationships a Priority. First seek a proper relationship with God. This will give you the Spiritual intuitiveness to hear the voice of the Lord and respond accordingly. Spiritual insensitivity was one primary cause to Israel’s lack of awareness of the coming of Christ. Then develop right relationships with others. Relationship is the key to accomplishing anything requiring more than one to achieve.
If you are going to realize your destiny, you will no doubt experience the hostility of religious people whose efforts to maintain their own security and identity will hold you out of your destiny if you allow it. They, without even knowing it, can lock you into the same prisons of non-progressiveness that imprison them. Refuse to allow it to happen.
A Place Of Testing:
The house of Caiphias? Yes, I have been there. This place is a place where you can get messed up. It is a place of testing. Like the garden in many ways it is a moment of definition. The devil will try and tell you that you have arrived and that this place of rejection is all that God has planned for you, but he is a liar. If you’ve not been there yet, chances are you will. But it is just another stop on the road to your destiny. Visit but don’t stay. Take the test and pass on your way, for there remains a Pentecost for you if you won’t quit. When you are met with a word of accusation instead of a word of encouragement, don’t panic. It is a part of the process. When you visit the house of Caiaphas you join in good company with almost every great Christian Leader of history, the greatest of which was a carpenter from an obscure place called Nazareth, named Jesus Christ.