A Jewish father was concerned about his son. He had not truly raised him to be grounded in the faith of Judaism… So, hoping to remedy this he sent his son to Israel so the boy could experience his heritage. A year later the young man returned home. He said, "Father, thank you for sending me to the land of our Fathers. It was wonderful and enlightening. However, I must confess that while in Israel I converted to Christianity.""Oh (groan) what have I done?" the father thought. So in the tradition of the patriarchs he went to his best friend and sought his advice and solace "It is amazing that you should come to me," stated his friend, "I too sent my son to Israel and he returned a Christian."
So in the traditions of the Patriarchs they went to the Rabbi. "It is amazing that you should come to me," stated the Rabbi, "I too sent my son to Israel and he returned a Christian. What is happening to our sons? “Brothers, we must take this to the Lord," said the Rabbi. They fell to their knees and began to wail and pour out their hearts to the Almighty.
As they prayed, the clouds above opened and a mighty voice stated, "Amazing that you should come to Me. I, too, sent My Son to Israel..."
One of most dramatic events in human history took place when God sent His Son to Israel. People who had been life-long Jews, were transformed by His presence, His power and His words. When the church first began on the day of Pentecost, thousands of Israelites responded by acting upon their faith: repenting of their sins and being buried in waters of Christian baptism. In those early days, the church grew by leaps and bounds. It seemed that whoever came into contact with Him became His follower… People loved Him.
I. Well (pause..) not everyone loved Him. There were those who didn’t like Him. There were those who turned away from Him. And there were those who tried to argue with Him. AND every once in a while, there were those reacted violently to Jesus. For example, there was the time when Jesus declared:
"…before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:58) . In the very next verse (John 8:59) we’re told "At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds." Later, Jesus proclaimed:
“I and the Father are one." (John 10:30) . John 10:31 tells us "again the Jews picked up stones to stone him,"
Jesus had just finished telling his disciples a couple of parables; the story of the five wise virgins and the five foolish ones; the parable of the talents given by the traveler who gave his servants his goods. The Bible refers to them as talents. Jesus is describing the consequences of two attitudes towards Christ's return. The person who diligently prepares for it by investing his or her time and talents to serve God will be rewarded. The person who have no heart for the work of the Kingdom will be punished. God rewards faithfulness. Those who bear no fruit for God's Kingdom cannot expect to be treated the same as those who faithful. Matthew 25:1
As chapter 26 of Matthew opens, Jesus is reminding his disciples about the upcoming Passover celebration beginning in two days. He tells them He is going to be betrayed and crucified. At the same time the leading priest and other leaders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, to discuss how to capture Jesus secretly and put him to death. But not during Passover,they agreed, fearing a riot breaking out.
I want to take a sidebar for a minute and talk about the high priest, Caiaphas. There aren't too many sermons text written about his role in Jesus' crucifiction. Pilate's name and Herod's names are mentioned quite frequently, but not Caiaphas.
Caiaphas was a successful man in his day. Born of the tribe of Levi, he’d married the daughter of the High Priest, Annas. But because the Romans had become disenchanted with Annas, he had lost his position and Rome offered the office to the highest bidder every year. The winner this year was Caiaphas (kind of kept it in the family). Caiaphas served for 18 years, longer than most high priest, suggesting that he was gifted at cooperating with the Romans, the political ruling class of that day. He was the first to recommend Jesus' death in order to "save" the nation. ( John 11:49-50).
Now Caiaphas was not a particularly religious man. He belonged to the party of the Sadducees, and the Sadducees were a very secular group. God was not a very powerful force in their lives. For example, they openly refused to accept the idea of bodily resurrection. One of the easy ways to remember their name is that they didn’t believe in a bodily resurrection from the dead – they were very Sad U See. So, although they may have been very religious, they didn’t really believe IN God.
SO, you have a High Priest, who has bought his office, and doesn’t believe in God. That’s one of the first things about this text that doesn’t make sense. I mean it was true, it really happened… It just doesn’t make any sense for a man who is in the position of spiritual leadership of a nation to not believe in God.. Now, as you might imagine, Caiaphas was not a very nice man. He’s bought his office, so you know he’s not a very principled individual. In fact, SINCE he bought his office, (rather than having it given to him by God) it was up to him to defend his own position. God’s not going to do it for him since he is a non-believer. Remember; some were called, some were sent, and some just went! But God ain't in none of that. If you just went, you're on your own.
Let me parenthetically remind you that there are Caiaphas' s among in government. There are those who have been in positions of leadership for long tenures, many years. They have dug their feet in the trenches and have said,"I shall not be moved!" They too have sold their souls to the highest bidders. Some like the Coche Brothers aren't politicians, but they are crooked lobbyist, who use millions of dollars to keep rich oil tycoons, and wall street CEOs on top, while twisting the arms of our senators and representations to vote against legislation that would benefit the poor, disenfranchised, elderly, children, minorities etc.
With their money, they keep our leaders jacked up so that things like the jobs bill, Obama Care, Immigration and gun legislation won't be brought up for a vote in the senate and in the House. People like the Green Eggs and Ham , Ted Cruz , representative from Texas, and Representative Ryan are an abomination to the free will and democratic system. Dirty dirty tricks and dirty politics is alive and well in Washington, DC.
But now, don't get it twisted! Don't get too comfortable with the idea that you and me are detached and free from such shenanigans. The institution called the "Church" is highly political. Saints, those tongue talking, floor walking, body jerking, shouting, speaking in tongues, and prophesying men and women, will hasten in a minute to unite with other Caiaphas' to rock your world, run you out of office, bring you down, convene councils to scandalize your name, mess up your ministry, threaten your job, tear apart your relationship with your husband, wife, parents, friends, pastor etc. ruin your reputation
. Caiaphas and his kind will try to isolate you from those that could possibly help and support you. They'll convene council meetings at a time when you least expect it. They will gather false witnesses to tell lies about your performance in your ministry, job, relationship with your spouse, or some other significant person in your life. Don't you know, witches stay up ll night plotting and planning your demise. Judas might be a close member of your own family; Judas might be the one who sleeps with you at night, or the one who sits on the pew next to you on Sunday morning, Judas could be the one in the cubical next to you on your job! Your Pilate might be the one washing his or her hands of the whole mess; he/she has the power to deliver you, but he/she is weak in the flesh, afraid of rattling the status-quo. His/her allegiance is to (Rome the powers that be Caesar at that time). today those powers could be government, your boss, pastor, a drug lord etc.Somebody is waiting to get you into a compromising position. Watch your back. Remember, at the time when you need to give a response to your enemy, The Holy Spirit will give you the words to say to your accusers.
This was a deliberate plot to kill Jesus. Without this plot there would have been no groundswell of popular opinion against him. In fact, because of Jesus' popularity the religious leaders were afraid to arrest him during the Passover. They did not want their actions to incite a riot. Although Caiaphas was the official High Priest, Annas continued to be the power behind the throne.
At the same time plans are being made for the Passover, the leading priest and other leaders are meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest, to discuss how to capture Jesus secretly and put him to death.
Oh, if you think this was the first time politicians connived and practiced dirty tricks just go back to 1972 or when President Tricky Dick Nixon was still in office seeking re-election. I got two words for you:
"Water Gate!" Tomorrow I will finish this because it is important to note, but the message is rather long. stay tuned for station identification. LATER!
Hey, You, Don't forget to say Your Prayers!