Monday, November 4, 2013
A Disgraceful Mockery
Mark 15:1 ¶ As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Jesus had been captured the night before and had already been interrogated. Actually, it was all just a farce. They knew what they wanted to do to him, the outcome had already been decided but they had to have this pretense of going through the motions. They wrapped up their first sessions with him during the night, but just so they didn’t seem too eager, they decided to wait and gather again in the morning. The disgraceful mockery begins when all too eagerly, right after sun-up, nearly 170 people gather to condemn Jesus.
What has this man done? He has offended them. He has embarrassed them. They are tired of the things that he says and if only they can get him out of sight, then hopefully he will be out of the minds of the people. So the chief priests, the elders, the scribes and the whole council get together and they determine that they want Jesus put to death. The only problem was that they had no power to put someone to death, at least legally. Only the Roman government could execute people and so they would need to be in full agreement so that they could force the issue with the Roman authorities. The decisions had all been made far in advance, all of this action was just for show. The council members were simply actors on a stage, fulfilling their roles in this mockery of justice. No one spoke the truth and they let the leaders get away with their manipulation. Jesus was bound and led away to the Roman official Pilate, because they believed they could force him into putting an innocent man to death.
The religious leaders had made a mockery of their own system by bypassing the process and, with prejudice, predetermining the result. All the while they went through the motions, mocking their own system for they had no desire to know the truth.
In hindsight it’s easy to be critical of these men. Their own power had gone to their heads. Jesus was viewed as a threat and so they were ready to do everything they could to get rid of him. The ends seemed to have justified the means.
Ouch! While the story can seem as if it’s from the distant past, the realization that we, too, sometimes are tempted to believe that “the ends justify the means” can hit a little close to home. The problem is that the more power we assume, the greater the temptation to take short-cuts in life. We want to wield that power because somehow we believe that the outcome we have in mind is going to be best.
But many of us may say that we don’t have power. We may not think that we have positional power (a job of influence), but everyone has power from one extent to another. Many have power within their own home. Parents have a great deal of power over their children and must be careful not to simply use their power and authority against them. What’s the worst answer to a question from a child? “Because I said so.” Yes, that parent is using their power, (and maybe the child has simply exasperated them) but this is just a use of power without leadership or guidance. The older we get the more we dislike, “because I said so.” Eventually it carries no weight and unless there is a consistent action to go with it relationship becomes damaged and the child will eventually break ties with the one who wants to continue to have power over them.
Husbands and wives — you have power over one another. And this power can be used to manipulate situations, if you choose to do so. Women, we have a great ability to shed tears. Maybe they’re for real, or maybe they are a disgraceful mockery for they are being shed to manipulate a response. Men have used their physical power over women since the beginning of time. Even in marriage men can use their physical strength to assert their power and demand the result they desire making a mockery of the relationship that God had intended.
I could go on, but I think we get the point. There is a temptation to take the power that we have and twist it to get the results that we want. Even the religious leaders succumbed to this temptation and if it could happen to them, it can happen to you and to me. What would have changed the situation for the religious leaders? They needed to get their eyes off of the system and their personal desire for power and ask God to open their eyes to the Truth. Jesus, Truth, was standing right in front of them and they could not see him. Often truth is right in front of us but our own feelings create a blindness that will not allow us to see, and so we become participants in a disgraceful mockery.
We must ask God to help us intentionally back off from circumstances that may tempt us to use our power to manipulate the response we desire. We must set up checks and balances that create a system of accountability. We must ask God to help us see, and have the strength to follow Truth — even when no one else can see. And may we have the strength to not be willing participants in the disgraceful mockery which sent Jesus to his death, and may be destroying people and relationships even today.
Lord, please help me to see your Truth. Amen.