The Pretense of Righteousness


Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.
(John 18:28 NASB)



It's the night that Jesus is betrayed and there is betrayal at many levels and by many individuals, not just Judas. It is the religious leaders who have orchestrated the entire event and they are attempting to maintain an aura of righteousness in the midst of a very unrighteous act. They are purposely circumventing their own laws because their ultimate goal is that Jesus will be killed. Their laws don't allow for that so they have to utilize the Roman system to their personal gain and advantage. This includes having Jesus brought before Pilate, and Jesus waiting in the Praetorium for that time. To have gone into the Praetorium would have meant that these self-righteous men would have defiled themselves. In the midst of all of this deception they still wanted to maintain an appearance of righteousness -- they wanted to be the "spiritual" men who would be celebrating the passover with their families.



In hind-sight it's easy to look back and be critical of those religious officials who treated Jesus the way that they did. However, I wonder if we do the same thing today. Are there times when we become so busy with what we view as being spiritual that we actually miss the Messiah? What about the needy who live among us and so desperately need to know about Jesus, and yet, because we don't want to be "defiled" we go the other direction. Don't we understand that it is Jesus himself who comes to us in the guise of the weak, the poor, the needy and the marginalized. Jesus was the protector of those who lived on the margins of life and yet to go there might mean that we have to give up our pretense of righteousness.

The religious leaders had their much-awaited Messiah standing right in front of them. Even that night he performed a miracle right in their presence, healing the ear of the man whom Peter attacked! But because he didn't fit their preconceived notions of a righteous person, they were willing to kill him. They wanted him out of their presence for good. He made them too uncomfortable in their religious walk and instead of dealing with their own issues, they were willing to kill their Messiah. While perpetrating a heinous crime, they still had the in back of their minds how they could appear righteous. After spending the night trying to have an innocent man killed, they were worried about being able to go home and be a part of the passover celebration! Crazy!



Lord, please help me to stay close enough to you that I will not be drawn away be the desire to "look" righteous. Amen.


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