DayBreaks for 12/05/14 – As Hard as a Brick
From the DayBreaks archive, December 2004:
John 11:47-50 (NIV) – Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
Not much is said about Caiaphas. And what is said of him is not favorable or flattering. He seems to be a man who didn’t have much of a soul left in him. He was the high priest at the time Christ was crucified (interestingly, the text says “that year” – the Romans had opted for a rotating high priesthood rather than the life-long office God prescribed in the OT), and as such, must bear tremendous responsibility for what transpired.
How could Caiaphas, a seemingly religious man, become so evil? In The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning wrote: “A terrible thing happened to Caiaphas. Religion has left the realm of respect for person. For Caiaphas sacredness has become institutions, structures, and abstractions. He is dedicated to the people, so individual flesh and blood men are expendable. Caiaphas is dedicated to the nation. But the nation does not bleed like Jesus. Caiaphas is dedicated to the temple – impersonal brick and mortar. Caiaphas became impersonal himself, no longer a warm human being but a robot, as fixed and rigid as his unchanging world.
“The choice usually presented to Christians is not between Jesus and Barabbas. No one wants to appear an obvious murderer. The choice to be careful about is between Jesus and Caiaphas. And Caiaphas can fool us. He is a very ‘religious’ man.”
It is tragic when we lose the focus that God intends for us to have. We can become so dedicated to the church (like Caiaphas was to the temple) that individual people become exchangeable pawns, disposable pieces on the chessboard of church practice. We lose sight, all too easily, of what Christ never lost sight of: the value of a single individual.
Caiaphas lost sight of the value of a single human. Caiaphas was willing to sacrifice Christ for the nation, to throw away a life for the “institution”. How precious do you hold each member of your congregation? Of your family? Your friends? Every person was born with great value – and every person will die with great value. So it is with the things which are made in the image of God.
PRAYER: May we come to value individual people as You do, Lord, and treat them as beings with great value! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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