Holy Rollers Part 1: Track Record
I’m going to ask you a series of questions which all have the same answer. See how long it takes you to uncover it.
Who were the most angry when the Son of Man cleared the Temple? Who constantly challenged the Son of Man’s authority? Who was at the centre of the plot to assassinate the Son of Man? Who did Judas go to first with his offer of Betrayal? Who masterminded the Son of Man’s arrest in the garden? Whose house was the Son of Man taken to first after his arrest? Who hired false witnesses to speak lies at the trial? Who was the principal cross examiner of the Son of Man? Who handed him over to Pilate? Who brought the main charges to Pilate? Who bribed the mob to choose Barabbas and condemn Jesus? Who led the shouts for crucifixion? Who mocked him on the cross? Who asked Pilate to put a guard on the tomb? Who tried to bribe the soldiers to lie about the empty tomb?
To these 14 questions there is but one answer – the priests. Perhaps, because you may be familiar with the story, this does not surprise you. But it is, indeed, shocking. These “holy rollers” formed the vitriolic and furious group who seemed to be full of hatred for the Son of Man.
Nothing but his total destruction would satisfy this hatred and nothing would be beyond them to gain this satisfaction.
You may remember that we started this Son of Man series on opposition with a question, “why do people hate?” We have looked at some general reasons and then examined two groups of opponents – The Legal Eagles and The Fat Cats. To be sure these groups opposed Jesus profoundly. One out of a deep relationship with laws and regulations which they used to create preferred personal status with God. The other had a more pragmatic self interest. Both groups – who opposed each other – united to oppose the Son of Man.
But their opposition was nothing like as intense as the priests who I am labelling as Holy Rollers. We are going to take a long look at them in order to learn and at the same time, as with all these groups, to observe that they live within us as well as in history and in cities.
I’m going to invite you, over the next few pieces, to meet them inside and outside of yourself. We are currently reflecting on their track record as revealed by my 14 questions.
You can see it as a track record driven by anger, hallmarked by plot and intrigue. It is fuelled by betrayal, decorated with deceit. It is financed by bribery, corruption and compromise. They acted contrary to their own laws inviting them and others to mock the Son of Man. Sarcasm and bitterness spurred them on until their blood was drained and even then this did not satisfy their thirst. Death needed to be verified, lied about and certified as they hounded him even beyond the grave.
It’s filled with such venom that it creates unease just in the telling of the story. But it is not a one time story, it gets repeated century after century in countless cities and a billion hearts.
Let me close with a few comments on context and next time we will look at their job descriptions to see more of why this extreme reaction occurred.
Note that the place of all this hatred was the capital city. It was the seat of power in Israel. All the priests were concentrated in the capital. The closer Jesus came to the heart of power the closer Jesus came to the provocation to hate and the revelation of hatred.
Is this not true inside of you and me? While he walks in the suburbs of your soul or the provinces of your mind he is no threat. When he moves to the centre of your heart then your anger, hatred and reactions are provoked. Is it not also true where you work? Keep him on the edge, in the back office, on the last page and all is calm. He will not, however, live there. He belongs at the centre of your market, budget, team, working practices. His place is in the middle of your big decisions not just your Sunday meditations. If you want a quiet life keep your Jesus in the provinces of your work. Well, try. Soon you find that he travels on a donkey of surprises and turns over corrupt market places.
That was asking for trouble and the priests were going to answer – they still do as we will see. (Next week, job descriptions).
John 11:49-51 and John 12:9-10
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
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