[This is an essential lesson of how individuals in power react when their privilege is threatened. It is about human fickleness, ego, greed and pride -- and it is applicable to the year 2017. Indeed, little has changed since Christ walked the earth over 2,000 years ago. In this narrative I go into the mind of one of the Chief Priests of Jerusalem and attempt to reconstruct what might have happened during this First Easter Period and what motivated the political murder of Jesus the Christ.
It is a story of political conspiracy, fear and opportunism by a group of privileged people who saw a new, attractive revolutionary philosophy finding great favor with the poor and oppressed in society. This new "Doctrine of Life" was preached by a man whose words and deeds threatened to upset the existing status quo and the balance of power in that clearly defined society. In a series of political moves and counter-moves these priests forged alliances with a common oppressor to get rid of a common enemy. Such is the political Lesson of the Easter Story. - MDR.]
"I have to talk about this thing. It's been on my conscience since we conspired as a group to get rid of this man who was causing us so much trouble. I guess you can say that I'm ashamed now; but he brought it on himself, the rabble-rouser. The man had a big mouth and he just would not stop stirring up the people and causing them to rebel against us, to question our authority. I got so angry with him that I just wanted him dead. I and the other so-called holy men. Everyone had blood in his eyes for that cocky, confident man who preached this doctrine of liberation for the poor unwashed people in the streets. He embarrassed all of us and was a real wise guy.
My name is Khalid. My friends and I are the chief priests in Jerusalem. We've taken over the functions of the temple, and, together with the scribes, we are the most powerful religious leaders. As the worshiped leaders of Israel, our authority is unquestioned. Everyone knows of our lineage. From the time of Aaron until now, we are God's chosen vessels, His official ministers. We, and we alone, represent the people to God. There is no room for discussion on this subject, and we have no time for interlopers.
That's why this situation with Jesus riled us so much. His teachings disrupted the people, not to mention our temple practices. The man was a radical; the people should have had nothing to do with Him. There have been others before Him of course, but none as dangerous. We dealt with them swiftly and effectively. Those that we could not convince to stop their rabblerousing and move on, we paid off, and when that failed we just simply had them killed. Of course, the poor ignorant people never knew this. What would they have thought about their holy and pious leaders having blood on their hands and sanctioning murder?
But this Jesus was different. He attracted people and they were becoming bold and highly critical of us. They challenged the laws that we made and they were even refusing to pay us our taxes. So the man was threatening our very way of life. His followers were growing in numbers and becoming more militant in their belief that He was our long-awaited Messiah. We could not tolerate this threat to our authority. Something had to be done, and we were the people to do it.
Jesus of Nazareth came on the scene rather quickly. The crowds were small when He was baptized in the Jordan River by John, that non-conformist. And as you very well know we dealt with John. Ha!No more preaching from him. His head was served up on a silver platter and nobody suspected that we were behind it. We did not even have to pay for this deed. Nobody could see our hand behind the plot and so the people blamed everybody else for John's death but us. We thought that Jesus and his followers would just lose steam, but those crowds swelled to hundreds, thousands in some cases. We had to stop that man.
So we plotted His death for months. Are you surprised? Does it disturb you that the ministers of the house of God would plan the execution of a rival? Don't be surprised. On the surface we may carry ourselves with a dignified air, but we are not immune to the vengeful and pitiful attitudes that plague our hearts. Let me put it bluntly: we wanted Him dead. We thirsted for Jesus' blood.
He healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath; how dare He claim to be Lord of the Sabbath!? He came to Jerusalem and drove those who changed money out of the temple, something we should have done ourselves. He made fools out of us. He taught in parables not always understood by the crowds, but we knew He was talking about us. The man was throwing words at us.
Yes, our plot to kill Him had been in the works for a long time. When one of His followers came to us and offered to betray Him, we saw our chance to get rid of this troublemaker and rabble-rouser. The traitor's name was Judas, a man of Cheroth, and he was tired of all the talk about love and forgiveness. It was evident he hated Jesus - perhaps not as much as we did - but he hated Him nonetheless. So our enemy became his enemy. For just thirty pieces of silver he would hand Him over to us. It was a bargain. The plot began in earnest. Judas came very cheap; we were rich and we could afford it. Besides we could always say afterwards that it was not our plan to kill Jesus and blame it on Judas. We could even shed crocodile tears and say just how we loved the man. That would show the stupid, ignorant people that we Chief Priests were really a forgiving lot and the ministers of God on earth. For me the plan was perfect and the price of betrayal would be money well spent.
We had just finished our meal when Judas knocked at the door. He came directly from a room where Jesus and His followers were gathered. Judas told us that soon they would leave that room and likely go out the Eastern Gate to the Garden of Gethsemane. The clock was ticking, and the details of our Passover plot began to take shape. Judas led us to the garden, where he kissed Jesus in an act of betrayal. We commanded that Jesus be bound and taken to the house of the high priest. There He received a pre-trial hearing by Annas and later stood before Caiaphas to answer the accusations we leveled against Him. My friends and I engineered this "trial" very carefully.
We knew we had no legitimate charge against Jesus, so we paid false witnesses to testify. They all condemned Him as deserving of death. Members of the Sanhedrin agreed. Well, all but a few-Joseph tried to say a few words in Jesus' defense, but only weakly. Our plan was working perfectly. This was a perfect kangaroo court and henceforth-evil men and governments all over the world would use it to get rid of enemies and political opponents. The last part of the plot took place when we took Jesus to Pilate, the governor, for sentencing and punishment. Pilate, for all his pretense and bombast, was really a very shallow and stupid man who became governor just because he was born Roman. We knew that we could manipulate him and make him do our dirty work. We went along to add legitimacy to our trumped-up charges. Pilate would have to believe us. He had no other choice. We knew he despised us, as we did him, but we hated Jesus even more.
It was daybreak when we arrived at the governor's residence. We clamored for a hearing. Sleepy-eyed and disinterested, Pilate nonetheless listened to our charges. He repeatedly took the position that Jesus had done nothing wrong. This would not do; we wanted Him dead. We had paid a disciple to betray Him. We had paid witnesses to lie about Him. We had come too far; we could not turn back now. So we sprinkled ourselves throughout the crowd waiting for Pilate's decision. When he appeared, we who raised our voices in deception now raised them in defiance. "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" With those words we began a chant that rippled through the crowd. Jesus must die. We had spent too much time on our plot. We couldn't let Him get away now.