Have you noticed that you have the ability to imagine a possible disaster, difficulty or threat before it has become reality? You have a unique ability for suspicion and such ability can ferment worry and anxiety in your soul. When you become so agitated that you consider this imagined threat challenges your well-being or survival, this is the stuff of stress.
Don’t be deceived by the historical distance with your era and the characters in the drama of the Son of Man. You are looking at the same stuff of stress when you examine the dynamics.
Make no mistake the scribes and Pharisees were very stressed about their concern that Jesus threatened their legal construct of life. For them, he posed a great challenge to their religious elitism and exclusive attitudes.
There is another group, however, who were also stressed about the Son of Man. In contrast to the Pharisees who understood very well that Jesus’ gospel of love was incompatible with their legal maze, the Sadducees projected onto the Son of Man something that was simply not there. This became the root of their “hatred without reason”.
There are a few things which hallmark the Sadducees in contrast to the scribes and Pharisees. They only accepted the first five books of the Bible as valid. No prophets, no wisdom, no oral or written traditions, just a reduced version in a five sided box. They believed in the here and now, no life after death, no angels, no spirits, much less freedom of will, more fatalism.
Pragmatic and practical, the Sadducees were very different to the idealistic, pious Pharisees and they hated each other.
But none of the religious niceties help you understand the Sadducees behaviour. The main code breaker for their actions lay in the fact that they were the rich ones, the aristocrats, the power class.
Sadducees were the fat cats of their day and preservation of their way of life meant collaboration with Rome. It meant dinner parties, networking, keeping things sweet so that they preserved their properties, bank balances and influences. They arranged their religion so that it had minimum impact on their lives and arranged their lives so as to maximise their wealth and status.
So why was the Son of Man a threat to them? Actually he was no direct threat at all. Of course he had strong teaching on status, money, wealth and power but he did not advocate a complete abandonment of such things more a harnessing of them for God.
No, the threat they saw was imaginary. They imagined he would be a trouble maker in a political and social sense. They imagined Jesus would assume messiah status and lead rebellions against Rome. They knew that, if this happened ,Rome would crush the rebellion and turn on any power bases at the same time. If the Son of Man led an uprising, it ,and they, would be brought down together. So they hated him.
The truth is that Jesus had no intentions like this at all. In fact he consistently refused to be hijacked into such a strategy.
As we will see later, the hearts of the enemies of Jesus were revealed at his trials. The Pharisees brought charges of blasphemy but the Sadducees brought charges of sedition. We will revisit that.
So what of your week?
I suggest that there is a fat cat spirit in us all. Who does not want to preserve status, wealth and power? Who does not want to acquire more?
There will be a temptation in you to put your religion in a box so you can go after your wealth and keep it safe.
Here is the sadness of your strategy. The Son of Man is not out to bring you down, strip you of wealth and see you crushed. This is mere imagination,
The truth is that when you bring your status, your wealth, your power and place them at his feet he finds a way of transforming things and you into something far more valuable, effective and satisfying.
Your religion comes out of the box and takes you into a status which will never die. Far from losing your soul it is preserved forever.
Please don’t think these are thoughts for the few. Whatever wealth you have, whatever status you have, whatever power you have, trying to hold onto it will result in it slipping through your fingers. Let it go and it will multiply in space and time.
A final word. Some of you reading this are far more wealthy than most. You have significant influence and power, greater than most. Don’t see the Son of Man as a threat, he never was and he never will be.
Can you imagine how painful it was for the young Messiah to be labelled, hated, despised and rejected by those who, if they would but trust him, would discover true wealth power and status? No wonder he wept.
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