When Jesus finished speaking all these words, he said to his disciples, “You know that the Passover is two days from now. And the Human One will be handed over to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and elders of the people gathered in the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest. They were plotting to arrest Jesus by cunning tricks and to kill him. But they agreed that it shouldn’t happen during the feast so there wouldn’t be an uproar among the people (Matthew 26:1-5, Common English Bible).
It really is difficult for me to understand fearing someone whose ideas are so opposite my own, that I would wish them dead. I just don’t understand it. I can never remember wishing another person dead. I may not like them. I may fear for the future because of decisions they make, but I don’t want that person dead.
If I don’t understand that, how could I carry things even further and plot together with others to carry out the death of another human being, another child of God?
That is just the place Caiaphas and the members of the high council found themselves. They were really concerned about what the future of the faith would look like if this Jesus character were to continue teaching and leading the people unchecked. Something had to change and the only thing they could see for change was the elimination of Jesus from their lives, permanently. So, they were hatching a plan, a plot if you will. Jesus, as far as they were concerned, had to go.
Perhaps it is a good thing I did not live in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s. Difficult decisions were believed to be imperative if Germany and really all of Europe were to be saved from total destruction.
In an earlier post in this blog series, I shared that Deitrich Bonhoeffer was one of my great heroes in the faith. Bonhoeffer was one of those who believed a difficult decision that would save Europe and Germany had to be made to stop, to eliminate Adolph Hitler. Bonhoeffer joined with members of the Resistance in an effort to plan and carry out the assassination of Hitler.
The Nazis uncovered the plot before the Resistance could carry out the plot. Bonhoeffer and others were arrested and imprisoned. Bonhoeffer continued his ministry while in prison, being a pastor to both prisoners and his Nazi guards alike. Even while in prison Bonhoeffer was making a difference.
Not long before the end of the war, Hitler ordered Deitrich Bonhoeffer executed. I feel certain that if we could question Bonhoeffer today and ask him if it was worth it, his answer would be yes.
Bonhoeffer and the Resistance efforts to kill Hitler might seem different than the High Council’s efforts to kill Jesus. But, in one key area, they are very much the same. Both the High Council and the Resistance feared what their world would be like if the one on whom they were plotting death, would be like. They didn’t like what they saw and started working to change the world.
I think it is easy to do as I would do and say, “There is no circumstance I can imagine where I would take the life of another person.” At earlier points in his life, I wouldn’t be surprised of Bonhoeffer had the same thoughts. Still, the circumstances did change and Bonhoeffer and others did what they might have considered, only a few years before, to be impossible. Now moving forward, to not act seemed to them to be equally impossible.
I have often wondered where God might come down on this. We can usually find ways to justify our position with Scripture. I don’t know where God would be on this issue. What am I talking about? I don’t even know where I would find myself if I were in Bonhoeffer’s position. What I do know is this, Jesus has taught us, in Matthew’s Gospel, that love of God and love of neighbor are the greatest commandments. We also read just yesterday, Jesus’ words, “For as you have done it to one of the least of these, you’ve done it to me.”
I am not saying we should never be passive and not take decisive action if necessary. What I am saying is, in light of what Jesus has taught us in this Gospel, we must make absolutely certain there is no other way. One day we will be held accountable for these and other decisions we make, just as God holds Caiaphas and the members of the Council accountable for decisions they made, leading to the death of the Christ.
Where would you find yourself on this issue?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved