Last night, went for a long walk and listened along the way to a podcast of a Los Angeles Times religion reporter telling NPR’s Dick Gordon how he had been born-again– only to later lose his faith while covering the scandals of the church community. Woke up this morning to hear the disturbing news that a missing little girl has been found in the suitcase of a Sunday School teacher who has been arrested for her murder.
Happens on the weekend we give special remembrance to the way Jesus fell under, and rose above– the worst of our sins. Feel strangely numbed, unnerved, and yet rescued by the way the greatest evils and goods get so tangled up in one another.
Reminds me of what happened when the high priest of Israel unintentionally predicted the One for All death of his nation’s Messiah. The 11th chapter of John tells us what happened after Jesus raised his friend Lazarus of Bethany from the dead. Many believed. Others ran to the religious elders of Israel to report what had happened (John 11:38-53).
Jerusalem’s religious leaders huddled with Caiaphas their high priest. They thought they had a real problem. Among themselves, they admitted that if they didn’t do something about Jesus, all of the people were going to believe he was their long awaited King. Then the Romans would hear about the ground swell insurrection and crush the rebellion.
At that point Caiaphas made an unintentional prophecy. The Gospel of John sees insight that Caiphas didn’t intend when he expressed his opinion that it would be better for one to die, than to see their whole nation lost. From that moment forward, the Gospel says that these religious leaders began to plot the death of Jesus.
The irony was that the most evil of all conspiracies would be used by God to save the lives of all who would believe in the one who would die.
The 6th chapter of Romans tells us how the one for all principle works. All who believe in Jesus believe “into” him. By believing in/into him, his death becomes our death. His resurrection becomes our resurrection. There is no greater or more important old or breaking news.
The worst among us can now find forgiveness in the death and resurrection of the best of us. Looking back we now know that because Jesus was God in the flesh, the sacrifice of his death was of infinite and eternal value for us.
What irony. Caiaphas thought it was going to be a regrettable but necessary fact that One was going to have to die so that Israel didn’t lose it’s puppet king (Herod) and limited freedom under the heel of Rome. He didn’t see the good news coming for all who would believe.
And what irony also that the One for All principle of our salvation now gives us such reason to remember how important it is that we now realize the implications of “All for One”. For all of us who have taken refuge in Christ, we all now have the high risk, high opportunity to reflect either favorably or not on the credibility of the one who suffered such terrible evil, to bring us– through his own resurrection– to such inexpressible good.
Note: The pictures are from the courtyard of St Peter’s church, a traditional site for the home of Caiaphas the High Priest (overlooking Kidron Valley and within sight of old city walls). The statue is of Peter being recognized by a young servant girl as one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter uses curses to deny that he ever knew Jesus.
Meanwhile an arrested Jesus is inside being accused and abused by his religious interrogators. Yet Peter continues to deny knowing the one who will, within a few hours, die for him (Peter) and for all of us.
Then Peter hears the rooster crows– and remembers that his Lord had predicted that even the most “courageous” among them– would deny him (Jesus) three times.