Wednesday April 22, 2020
Two Worlds Colliding
53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.
55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.
Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”
62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”
They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
Two worlds are colliding. And these two worlds have their own language. And neither side knows the language of the other. The meaning of words are different. Much like it would be difficult, if not impossible, for you to carry on a conversation with someone who speaks Mandarin only or French only; so too would it be almost as impossible to carry on a conversation with someone who speaks the same language but has a completely different worldview, a completely different set of values, a completely different perspective of reality. Caiaphas and Jesus are both speaking the same language, presumably Aramaic, but they represent two worlds that cannot coexist.
Caiaphas represents the world of the temple. He is anointed by God to be the ruler of the temple. He is the high priest. The temple is where it is believed the presence of God dwells on earth. So people come to the temple for healing, to receive forgiveness for their sins, to study Torah or holy scripture. The Sadducees who maintain the temple are essentially connected to and dependent on Roman support. So the whole temple system is inclusive of Roman power and culture. The temple had become not only a symbol of political and economic corruption but it had become a symbol of national pride. It had become ours. It had become for us and not them. This is the opposite of what it was supposed to be. Just as Israel was supposed to exist as God’s chosen people to be a blessing to the nations so too was the temple supposed to be a house of prayer and worship in Israel for the sake of the world.
Jesus represents and is establishing the world of the Kingdom of God. He is greater than the temple. Or, it can be said He is the new temple. Contrary to his false witnesses, Jesus doesn’t intend to destroy the building. He doesn’t need to. He’s fulfilling something much greater. He is the Son of Man in Daniel 7 defeating the fourth beast who is “…given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14). As the Psalmist says in Psalm 110, he will sit at the right hand of the Father. He is the Torah. He is the sacrifice and forgiveness. He is the new temple. And his anointing and authority is above Caiaphas. He’s bringing into existence a world with it’s own language and values and politics that is not aligned with the temple world nor the Roman world.
What can you say when two worlds collide? How do you understand one another when you’re speaking the same language but words have different meanings? What can be done when these worlds are not compatible with each other? Jesus models for us the humility of silence. Sometimes what matters most is what isn’t said. Sometimes the greatest thing we can say is nothing. Though Jesus has all authority and power and every reason to put Caiaphas and the whole Sanhedrin in their proper place, he doesn’t defend himself nor does he need the last word. Do you? When worlds collide and words have different meanings, actions speak louder than words. Now, it’s time for Jesus to proclaim the Gospel through his action. His silence, his patient suffering, the steps he takes to the cross, are now the language for all people to see and know the truth of the Gospel. Where, or with whom, do you need to practice more silence? Where do your actions need to speak louder than your words?
Prayer for Today
Holy God, we trust you even when the answer is no. You know the plans you have for us and they are better than we could ever hope for. Through all of our questions and doubts and frustrations, keep us steadfast in pursuing you. You are our Rock and our Redeemer. We offer you all of our life today. Show us your grace. Amen
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