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June 23 | Luke 23:1-19


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


Power Corrupts???

by Tom Richards

In today’s reading we see the Jewish leaders maneuvering to secure the death of Jesus. In Luke 22, Jesus is arrested, illegally interrogated, illegally tried, and ultimately convicted of blasphemy by the Sanhedrin (“Supreme Court”). This was a sin punishable by death under Jewish law.


The ”whole assembly” then leads Jesus to appear before Pilate. Rome held the

rights to capital punishment and that is clearly what the Jewish leaders wanted

for Jesus. Also, given Jesus’ popularity among the people (think of Palm Sunday)

it was important for the Romans to be responsible for his death, not the

Sanhedrin. To this end, the Jewish leaders make false accusations against Jesus:


 He was subverting the nation. FALSE.

 He opposed payment of taxes to Caesar. FALSE.

 He proclaimed to be a king (opposed to Rome). FALSE. Yes, Jesus said he

was a King, but in John 18:33–38, he explains that his kingdom is not of this

world.


So what drove the Jewish leaders to go to such extremes to “eliminate” Jesus?

One reason was the thought that Jesus’ actions and those of the crowds that

followed him could cause Rome to “take away both our place (Temple or

perhaps Jerusalem) and our nation." You can read about this in John 11:48–50.


Another (perhaps more compelling) reason was the relationship that the high

priest and the chief priests had with Rome. Judea was a Roman province in

Jesus’ day. Pontius Pilate was the governor of this province. In this structure

of governance, the Romans counted heavily on the local leaders to align the

people with Roman rule. The Sanhedrin (primarily the High Priest and the

Chief Priests) filled this role. These leaders had great influence over the Jewish

people because of their role in the Temple and religious life. They also had

great power (and often wealth) because of the authority granted to them by

Rome. Jesus was a threat to this “comfortable arrangement” and he had to be

dealt with.


The threat to the power held by the Jewish leaders, at least in some part,

caused them to go to incredible lengths to seek the death of Jesus. We can

look back at their actions with justifiable indignation. And yet, we don’t have

to look very far to see instances today where people have caused much harm

for the sake of power. Clearly, power can corrupt…


PRAYER

Dear Father, please help us to realize that you are the source of any power or

authority that we (or others) may have. Give us a servant mentality and help

us to understand that any influence we have is ultimately to bring you glory.

Amen.




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