I Caiaphas

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Chapter 1: Called By God

In viewing The Passion of the Christ, it struck me that Mary was almost in every scene. She was there at the trial of Jesus. She was there for the scourging of Jesus. His walk down the Via Dolorosa, she was there. At the cross, she was there. While this may be very sound Roman Catholic theology, it doesn’t seem to line up with the Bible or what we know of the common practices of the Sanhedrin and the Romans. She probably caught up to Jesus only when he had already been nailed to the cross.

Then it struck me—there was one person who may have been there for all of that, or at least one person who had his fingerprints all over the Passion story—Caiaphas, the high priest!

Christians have not ignored him. Dante put him in the lowest part of hell, just a little higher than Judas who was being gnashed in Satan’s teeth. His name is synonymous for underhanded, conniving treachery.

We should stand in awe of Caiaphas. From a human point of view, he was the best the Jewish culture had to offer. He and his family were the first to grasp what Jesus was claiming. He was the first to happen upon a solution to the Jesus problem and he was skilled enough to maneuver both people and Romans into doing what they did not want to do. He may have even believed that Jesus rose from the dead!

Quite a man. It would be well for us to study this mortal foe of our Savior.

High Qualifications

Read Leviticus 21.10-25

Lets put down some of the qualifications of the High Priest.

 

Lineage

Descendant of Aaron

Hair style

tidy

Clothing

not torn

Contact with the dead

no contact with the dead whatsoever

Wife

virgin, of God's people

Body

sound, no defect

Health

good

Travel

none at all!  must stay by the Tabernacle/Temple

Ceremonially clean or unclean?

clean

Livelihood

solely from the offerings God's people bring

 

What strikes you as the most important qualification of the High Priest?

Dedication--he has no assistant.  He has to be by the Temple always.  He is always on call.

What was he supposed to represent?

The perfect holiness God gives his people.  Note the refrain, "I am the Lord who makes them holy."

The Big Man for The Big Day (of Atonement)

Aaron and the rest of his successors in the office of the High Priest had very important jobs. But the most significant day for the High Priest was the Day of Atonement. Look at the events of that day.

Read Leviticus 16.1-24

What separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place?

curtain.

What was in the Most Holy Place?

Ark of the Covenant.

What did that symbolize?

God's holy and forgiving presence among his people.

Why had Aaron’s two oldest sons died?

They had offered "unauthorized fire" before the Lord.  Evidently they had entered the Most Holy Place to offer incense.  They thought it was a good idea.  The Lord didn't.

What five animals does Aaron sacrifice on the Day of Atonement?

1. Bull.

2. Ram.

3. Ram.

4. Goat.

5. Goat.

What does he do with each animal (point it out on the diagram)?

1. Bull--sacrificed before the altar.  Aaron takes it's blood into the Most Holy Place and sprinkles it's blood before the Ark of the Covenant for his own sins.

2. Ram-sacrificed before the altar.  Aaron takes it's blood into the Most Holy Place and sprinkles it's blood before the Ark of the Covenant for the sins of hte people.

3. Ram sacrificed before the Tabernacle.

4. Goat-sacrificed before the Tabernacle.

5. Goat-sins of the people proclaimed over it and it is let loose in the wilderness.

What animal “survives” the Day of Atonement?

Scapegoat--it is left to wander in the wilderness.  Probably devoured by a predator.

What does all this symbolize?

curtain-a holy God whom sinners cannot approach.

sacrifices-wages of sin is death.  without death there can be no forgiveness.  each of the sacrifices were a "little Christ" pointing to the real sin sacrifice.

scapegoat-sins went away, never to be brought up again.  God removes our sins from us completely through the work of the Savior.

High Priest's sacrifice-even he is sinful.  all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

A Great Bread-Winner

Read Leviticus 24.1-9

Locate the lamp stand in the Tabernacle diagram.

Who is to make sure the candles don’t go out?

Aaron

Locate the Show Table in the Tabernacle diagram.

What goes on this table?

twelve loaves of bread and also twelve packets of incense.

What does the bread symbolize?

twelve tribes of Israel.  God provides food for his people.  They return thanks to him.

How often is the bread to be “changed”?

every Sabbath

Who gets the bread after it’s use is over?

The High Priest and his sons (and their families are understood)

The Best High Priest

It shouldn’t come as a surprise when Jesus comes into the world the High Priest becomes Jesus’ sworn arch-enemy. Jesus came to replace the High Priest with a better priesthood!

Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who, under the wear and tear of persecution, were longing to go back to Judaism. The writer to the Hebrews urges them not to go back to Judaism, because we Christians have a better High Priest!

Read Hebrews 7.23-25

Why is Jesus a better High Priest than Caiaphas’ line of high priests?

He never dies.  He always lives to intercede for us.

Read Hebrews 7.26-28

Why is Jesus a better High Priest than Caiaphas’ line of high priests?

Jesus is sinless.

How do you know Jesus is sinless?

He doesn't have to offer a sacrifice for his own sins like the High Priest had to sacrifice a bull for his own sins on the Day of Atonement.

Read Hebrews 8.1-2

Where did the high priest enter on the Day of Atonement?

The Most Holy Place

Where did Jesus enter?

Heaven

How does this show he is a better High Priest?

Heaven is a better arena for service than the man-made replica or model of heaven, just as a model car is inferior to the real car.

Read Hebrews 9.1-10

Locate all the items the writer to the Hebrews mentions in our Temple diagram.

Did we miss anything in our diagram? If so, draw it in.

Altar of Incense (in the Most Holy Place, probably to the side)

What did the Ark of the Covenant look like?

Golden chest with a golden cover on it.  On the cover were two angels (cherubs), probably facing each other with their wings spread over the Ark of the Covenant.

Who alone could go into the Most Holy Place?

High Priest

When only could he go into the Most Holy Place?

On the Day of Atonement only

What did the Most Holy Place symbolize?

God's presence. Heaven.

What did the Most Holy Place’s inaccessibility symbolize?

Sinners could not approach a holy God with their sins on them.

Read Hebrews 9.11-18, 23-28

Fill in the chart based on these verses.

 

Old Testament High Priest

Jesus

Most Holy Place

Heaven

Animal Sacrifices

Sacrificed himself

Repeated sacrifices

once for all

Ceremonial cleanness

real cleanness--clean conscience, forgiveness of sins

Old Covenant (Law)

New Covenant (Gospel)

Guaranteed by death of animals

Guaranteed by death of Savior

 

Whose priesthood is obviously better? Why?

Jesus.  His does his work in heaven.  He is sinless.  He sacrifices himself, a better sacrifice.  His sacrifice really works forgiveness.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Read Hebrews 10.1-18

How often did the events of the Day of Atonement have to be repeated?

annually

What did the animal sacrifices of the Day of Atonement “fail” to do?

never took away sin

What did the animal sacrifices of the Day of Atonement succeed in doing?

always served as a reminder of sin.  Let's say I want to lose weight this year, so I join Weigh Watchers.  2006 comes.  I am determined to lose weight.  I join Weigh Watchers.  2007 comes.  I am determined to lose weight.  I join Weight Watchers.  It is painfully obvious to everyone I am not losing weight.  So it was obvious on the Day of Atonement, here they were again, burdened by a heavy load of sin.

Why wasn’t God pleased with the animal sacrifices, even though he commanded them?

It was part of the Law which resulted from man's sin.  He took no delight in the death of innocent animals.  He is only pleased by holy living.

What is the way to heaven?

faith in the sacrifice of Jesus which was established by the Gospel covenant

Why don’t we offer animal sacrifices any more?

Jesus has taken away our sins forever by his suffering and death on the cross.

What would Caiaphas’ attitude have been towards the Day of Atonement?

It would have been easy for the High Priest (including Caiaphas) to view this as the Superbowl of sacrifices and give the indication that this forgave sins and cleansed consciences.  After all, God had commanded it.  These are the highest sacrifices there were and the people's forgiveness depended upon him to perform the sacrifices as God had commanded.

He would have been excited about it and eager for the Day of Atonement when he would be in the spotlight.

On the basis of what we’ve seen in this lesson, why would Caiaphas have come up with the idea that Jesus had come to “destroy the Temple?”

If Jesus were the Savior, sin would be paid for and there would be no reason for animal sacrifices.  The old order of worship with the sacrifices would be obsolete.  In effect, Jesus' work would render the Law aspects of the Temple ritual and worship useless.  And, if that were the power base of Caiaphas' hold over the people, it would destroy the High Priesthood and all who worked under him (a fairly large bureaucracy with many mouths to feed!).

These are pretty abstract ideas.  The people wouldn't get them.  So Caiaphas could easily twist Jesus' words spoken early on in his ministry when he cleansed the Temple the first time ("Destroy this temple" (as he pointed to his body) "and I will rebuild it in three days.") and make them a literal threat on the Temple.  Jesus was going to destroy the beloved and grand Temple!  Even today, teachers realize the line between figurative and literal language is not that clear for people.  It is, however, the initial charge that they laid at Jesus' feet once Caiaphas got him on trial.

Caiaphas had his turf to defend.

A Lesson for Life

Compare and contrast the High Priesthood of Aaron and his descendants all the way down to Caiaphas (1500 years!) and the public ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Similarities: The pbulic ministry and the high priesthood are teaching positions in the church, called by God, require God-given qualifications and demanding strict adherence to the Word of God.  They both have worship functions where they represent the people to God and God to the people (just look which way the preacher is standing during the worship service!).

Differences: The public ministry is rooted in Gospel while the high priesthood had many law functions.  There is not animal sacrifice in the public ministry, nor are there secret ceremonies hidden from the people of God.  The public minister is not a symbol of holiness above the people as the High Priest was.  As such, there are no ceremonial laws or requirements for the public ministry (except the ability to teach) in addition to what God expect of every Christian.

Chapter 2: Triumphant Over the Jews

The High Priest did more than offer sacrifices and supervise the Temple worship. His position, especially with the loss of sovereignty to the Romans in 67 BC and their client king (Herod the Great), became politicized and secularized. In effect, the High Priest was the Prime Minister of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council over Jerusalem. He had become the local government. Depending on the strengths and preferences of overlords, the power of the High Priest could also encompass the entire region of Judea, with some power over Jews scattered throughout the Roman world. But that’s a story for next week!

Suffice it to say, the High Priest did not limit himself to religious matters clearly accepted by all Jewish factions. Indeed, on many items of faith there was no agreement! Jesus of Nazareth was but one area of conflict.

In order to achieve his goals, Caiaphas had to cobble together either a coalition of the three most powerful forces in Jerusalem (Sadducees, Pharisees, Herodians) or he had to cunningly act without the knowledge of, or in the face of, the other factions.

His success in ostracizing Jesus of Nazareth from mainstream Jewish circles is an amazing victory over competing Jewish factions.

Chapter 2: Triumphant Over the Jews

The Factions

Look at the following passages and fill out the chart thumb nailing the three factions within the Judaism of Jesus’ day.

 

 

Sadducees

Pharisees

Herodians (Monarchy)

Resurrection

no

yes

don't care

Angels

no

yes

don't care

Human soul

no

yes

don't care

Books of the Bible

only books of Moses--Pentateuch

all Old Testament

don't care

Rightful Ruler

High Priest

Messiah

Herod and Caesar

 

Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee. I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” When he said this a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. (The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.) There was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously. “We find nothing wrong with this man,” they said. “What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” Acts 23.6-9

Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother.”… [Jesus replied] But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord, ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Luke 20.27, 37-38

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. They came to him and said, “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Mark 12.13-14

“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. John 19.15

For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Mark 6.17-18

Which party was the most political?

Herodians

Which party was the “conservative” religious party?

Sadducees

Which party was the “innovative, liberal” religious party?

Pharisees

The Pharisees are the party that dominates modern orthodox Judaism today. The Herodian and the Sadducean parties became moot points when the Temple was destroyed and the nation of Israel vanished in 70 AD.

Which party do you think Jesus would be most compatible with (if you didn’t dig too far!)? Why?

Pharisees--they believed in all the Bible of their day, eternal life, angels and the soul.  They actually cared what the Bible said, though they were filled with work-rightoeusness.

There was one more religious faction in Judea, the Essenes. Because of the secularization and politicizing of the High Priesthood, they abandoned Jerusalem and set up their religious settlements in the Jordan River valley. They are probably the group that is responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you picture them as the 1st century Jewish Amish, you might be on target. They played no role in the Jewish religious scene of Jesus’ day.

How to Not Get Rid of the Savior in Twelve Steps (The Divisions over Jesus of Nazareth)

“He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

With these words John tells us more than we know. Throughout Jesus’ ministry there was division among the Jews. Let’s look at examples in John’s Gospel.

1. Initial Reaction

Early in his ministry Jesus is visited by a Pharisee, a member of the Jewish ruling council.

He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” John 3.2

2. Early Objection

Jesus healed a lame man on the Sabbath. The Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” John 5.10

3. Further Objections

In a discourse Jesus had claimed God as his Father.

For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. John 5.18

4. Subsequent Reaction

Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. John 7.12-13

5. New Objection

Jesus publicly accuses the religious leaders of trying to kill him.

“You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. John 7.20

6. Confusion

At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” John 7.25-27

7. More Believing in Jesus and New Objection

On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived? Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. John 7.40-44

8. Breaking Ranks and Hardening Opposition

When even the Temple guards refuse to arrest Jesus, the Sanhedrin reviles them.

“You mean he has deceived you also?” The Pharisees retorted. “Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?” They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” John 7.47-52

9. Containment that Works

After Jesus heals a man born blind, the Pharisees try to debunk the miracle. The tack they take is to try to prove the man was not born blind. They call in his parents.

“We know he is our son,’ the parents answered, ‘and we know he was born blind. But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.’ His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue.” John 9.20-22

10. The Power of Jesus’ Words

After Jesus’ Good Shepherd Discourse, John records,

At these words the Jews were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” John 10.19-21

11. New Evidence Demands New Tactics

Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. John 11.45, 47-54

But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him. John 11.57

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was (at Lazarus’) and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. John 12.9-11

12. Mounting Frustration and Fear

Caiaphas was quick to react to the events of Palm Sunday.

“See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” John 12.19

Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12.42-43

Summarize the Twelve Steps in the chart below

 

Action For Jesus

Reaction Against Jesus

Nicodemus “Prophet of God”

Jesus a sinner, for he breaks the Sabbath (by healing a man)

Jesus Claims to be Son of God

He deceives the people (intimidation starts)

People Concluding Jesus is the Christ

He is demon-possessed

Leaders Believing in Jesus

No Savior from Galilee--laity supporting Jesus excommunicated

Lazarus Raised from the Dead

Kill Jesus

Many Believing in Jesus

Arrest Jesus and kill Lazarus, too

Palm Sunday

Kill Jesus--leaders supporting Jesus excommunicated

 

Where had the twelve steps gotten Caiaphas?

Nowhere.  The "whole world" was following Jesus.  All Caiaphas' efforts had backfired.  At best he was confronted by a cowed majority of the people who secretly supported Jesus and a sizable minority within the very ruling circle who were keeping their mouths shut.

Who seems to be the leader of the anti-Jesus party in the Sanhedrin?

Caiaphas

Who seems to be the leader of the pro-Jesus party in the Sanhedrin?

Nicodemus

The line charts the course of the conflict between Caiaphas and Jesus. Can you line up each event?

a Jesus' Interview with Nicodemus

b Man healed on the Sabbath

c Jesus protests they are trying to kill him

d Jesus heals man born blind

e Good Shepherd discourse

f Lazarus raised from the dead

g Palm Sunday

How to Kill a Popular Savior

By Wednesday of Holy Week Caiaphas had been checked in his efforts to kill Jesus. He had despaired of winning all the people over to his cause.

Matthew tells us about a key meeting of the Sanhedrin.

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” Matthew 26.3-5

When was Jesus not going to die, according to Caiaphas’ plans?

During the Feast (that week)

What happened to change the timetable?

Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. Luke 22.4-5

Judas offered to show them where Jesus went at night where there were no crowds present.

“When no crowd was present.” It was amazing to see how efficient Caiaphas was once he had Jesus arrested. Count the hours and see what happens at each one.

A Jesus arrested

B Jesus privately before Annas

C Jesus privately before Caiaphas

D Peter denies Jesus as he goes to full trial

E Trial before the full Sanhedrin

F Jesus before Pilate

G Jesus crucified

About when did Jesus enter into Caiaphas’ custody?

11 pm

About when was Jesus nailed to the cross?

9 am

What time does a city start to come alive?

9 am

How did Caiaphas kill Jesus “during the feast” but “when no crowd was present?”

when the whole town was asleep or just getting started in the morning

Why is it wrong to picture the whole city of Jerusalem screaming for Jesus’ crucifixion before Pilate’s judgment seat?

They weren't there!  They were getting started in the morning.  Probably only the Sanhedrin and their cronies were crammed into Pilate's courtyard.

What had happened to the pro-Jesus party?

Mark 13.50 Disciples fled

Luke 22.60 Peter denies Jesus

John 20.38-39 Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus cowed into silence

For Appearances’ Sake

Caiaphas had what he wanted—Jesus in his power. Yet he also had a group of pro-Jesus sympathizers in the very ruling council. He had to keep up appearances, transparent though his efforts were. You can see how close Caiaphas was to his goal of getting rid of Jesus. He gets sloppy.

Go through the proceedings of Jesus’ trial and note what is at variance with the Bible and compare Jesus’ trial with what anyone would consider a fair trial.

 

 

Jesus’ Trial

Fair Trial

 

Matthew 26.59

false witnesses

no false testimony

Exodus 20.16

Matthew 26.60

Condemned ahead of time

don't deny justice

Exodus 23.7

Mark 14.57-59

Don’t agree

must be established by two witnesses

Deuteronomy 19.15

Matthew 26.63

High priest

X

 

Mark 14.63

Tears clothes

don't tear clothes

Leviticus 21.10

Matthew 26.67

Hit Jesus

X

Exodus 20.13

Mark 15.1

Early morning

X

 

Luke 23.2

Change charges

no false testimony

Exodus 20.16

 

A Lesson for Life

Caiaphas thought he was fighting, not only for his own position, but also fighting for the very existence of his ruling party’s way of life. As such, anything was permissible. There are voices in our country that say much the same thing. Discuss whether the ends justify the means in terms of torture of prisoners, suspension of civil rights, political spying and vigilantism.

The end never justifies the means.  Prisoners are to be treated humanely, according to the Geneva Convention and (if American citizens) under American law.  The constitution, save for times of dire crisis, guarantees civil rights.  Political spying beyond the rule of law and vigilantism is never permitted.

 

 Chapter 3: Triumphant Over Pilate

 

Judea was one of the “hot spots” in the Roman Empire. The Jews had gained their independence from the Greek-Syrian rulers during the days of the Maccabbees, 167 B.C. Their long fight for religious and political independence was sacrificed 100 years later by the squabbling and intrigue of the royal family. One rival to the throne invited the Romans to aid him. The Romans were only too happy to “assist.” Pompey, on behalf of the Jewish king John Hyrcanus, attacked his rivals in Jerusalem and took the city in 63 B.C. Pompey, however, neither sacked the city nor plundered the Temple. This “velvet glove” approach was solidified some 25 years later when, under attack from eastern enemies and abandoned by Hyrcanus’ family, the outsider Herod was titled king of Judea to shore up the eastern Roman empire. From that point onward, his family ruled Palestine. Only when there was a breakdown in law and order, did the Romans step in. Such was the case in Judea from 6 A.D. onward.

So the myth of Jewish independence persisted, in the face of Roman domination. The Roman governors were temporary measures. The Jews were rightfully owed a king.

Some of this tension shows in Jesus’ parables.

“A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’ But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’” Luke 19.12-14

Guess who the noble man is?

Herod!

And in the Jews’ reaction to Jesus’ words.

“To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’” John 8.31-32

How could they be free if the Romans were in charge?

They weren't free--they only claimed to be free.  In reality they were Rome's subjects.

The tension also shows in relations between the Roman governors and Herod’s family.

That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies. Luke 23.12

Why would Herod and Pilate not be warm towards each other?

Herod is claiming (mostly behind the scenes) that his family should be ruling over Judea.  Pilate is given the charge not to let the Jews have an excuse to rule over Judea.

Where would Caiaphas fit into all this?

Caiaphas would be the power-broker, playing one side off against the other and gaining much for himself.

All this would be very interesting, had it not been for one little thing. The Romans believed it was their god-given duty to administer justice on the world, in the words of Vergil, Rome’s greatest imperial poet, around 20 B.C., to

parcere subjectis et debellare superbos

spare the down-trodden and cast down the haughty.

Caiaphas, with very little political power, must bend the forces of Roman justice to meet his needs. And, because of the limitations put upon him by the factionalism of the Jews, he has very little time to do it. Within two hours he has his showdown with Rome and for the last time, a Jew would win!

John gives us the most details about the showdown between Caiaphas and Pilate.

Opening Volleys

Read John 18.28-32

What time of day was it?

early morning, maybe 6:30 am.

Where did the confrontation take place?

outside Pilate's palace, in the courtyard

What do the Jews charge Jesus with?

"a criminal"

What do they expect Pilate to do for them?

execute Jesus

Fill out the chart to show to whose advantage these events would be.

 

 

Caiaphas

Pilate

Time of confrontation

X

he's been awake all night running on adrenaline

he's probably just been woken up--too early for him to be sharp

Place of confrontation

X

Caiaphas has the crowd around him for support

feels exposed and outnumbered

Lack of charge

X

group pressure

impossible for Pilate to ascertain the certainty of a charge

Demand for execution

X

clear-cut demand

harder to be the "bad guy" and say no

 

First Attack

Read Luke 23.1-2

What does the crowd, led by the priests, shout at Pilate?

Jesus is a subversive, claiming to be a king and opposing the payment of taxes to Caesar

A private hearing of the priests takes place now.

Read Mark 15.3-5

What do the priests put before Pilate as the charges?

"many things"

Why can't Pilate investigate these charges?

Jesus remains silent

Roman Retreat and Regrouping

Read John 18.33-38

Where does Pilate go now?

inside the palace

Why?

he wants to question Jesus privately.  He probably thinks Jesus is silent because he fears Caiaphas.

Who has won the skirmish—Pilate or Caiaphas?

Caiaphas, because Pilate is forced to retreat from the public arena of the courtyard, thus showing weakness.

How does Pilate’s Roman sense of justice kick in?

Pilate proclaims Jesus innocent.  There is no basis for a charge against him.

Roman Counter-Attack Stopped

Read Mark 15.6-14

How does Pilate try to get Jesus freed?

Pilate gives the Jews their customary choice of which prisoner for him to release at the time of the Passover.

What three reasons does Pilate have for getting Jesus freed?

1. It is customary to release a prisoner.  Pilate is making no judgment on whether Jesus was innocent or guilty, whether Caiaphas was right or wrong in bringing Jesus to him.  It should defuse the situation.

2. Pilate introduces Jesus as "the home-town boy," the King of the Jews.

3. Pilate gives them a most unappetizing choice--Barabbas, a rebel!

Who stops Pilate’s counter-attack cold and how?

The chief priests stop Pilate's counter-attack by getting the crowd to ask for Barabbas.

Pilate falters. He actually makes the mistake of asking the crowd what he should do with Jesus. They have an instant answer—what is it?

Crucify Jesus!

Pilate loses his grip even more. He questions them “Why? What crime has he committed?” Why did this question make perfect sense to Pilate and no sense to Caiaphas?

It makes sense to Pilate because as a Roman he is interested in administering justice.  It makes no sense to Caiaphas because he simply wants a rival eliminate by any means.

Who has won the skirmish—Pilate or Caiaphas?

Caiaphas, for Pilate has been reduced to asking impotent questions.

Second Roman Counter-Attack

Read John 19.1-5

Pilate is both a stubborn and an ingenious man. What does he do next to try to free Jesus?

Pilate orders Jesus to be beaten bloody that he might arouse pity.  He also plays up the ludicrousness of the Jewish charges by having Jesus arrayed in a glad rag royal robe and a crown made of thorns.

What verdict does Pilate publicly render upon Jesus?

Not guilty, no basis for a charge against him.

Describe Jesus’ probable wounds at this point.

contusions of the head, blood flowing down his face and matting his hair, a bruised face with black eyes likely and nose bleeding, lacerations on his back from the scourging with evidence of welts on upper shoulders and neck as the scourge whipped around to the front of his body.  And he looked exhausted.  It has been almost 24 hours since he has slept and he probably hasn't eaten or drank anything since 9 pm the night before.  He's running on empty.

What is Pilate hoping the Jews will do with the bloodied Jesus?

Pilate hopes the Jews feel pity for Jesus when they see what the hated Romans have done to one of their Jewish boys and ask for his release.  Jesus has received a beating that, if it hasn't permanently broken his body, would like break the spirit of a normal man.

Stalemate

Read John 19.6-11

Who leads the crowd in shouting down Pilate?

the chief priests

What is Pilate threatening to do with the whole “Jesus case?”

throw it out.  When Pilate tells the Jews to take Jesus and crucify him, this is an impossibility.  The Romans reserved capital punishment for themselves to administer.

How do the Jews almost lose their whole case and why would they be so stupid?

The do the worst thing a liar can do--they tell the truth!  They say Jesus should die because he claims to be the Son of God.  They slip up here because they panic that Pilate will simply walk back into the palace, thus releasing Jesus.

How off-balance is Pilate at this point—what should he have ruled? (See Acts 18.12-17)

Their remarks about Jesus being the Son of God arouses Pilate's superstition and shakes him.  Instead of doing what Gallio did in Corinth--throw out the Jews' religious charges against the Apostle Paul, Pilate investigates even further, getting further entangled in the case.

Who has won the skirmish—Pilate or Caiaphas?

Caiaphas.  Pilate has again retreated from the public arena and is now engaged in a tangential line of questioning with Jesus.

Final Attack

Read John 19.12-13

What was Pilate trying to do for Jesus and why?

Pilate is trying to set Jesus free, because Jesus is innocent and the Romans are not barbarians--they believe in the fair administration of justice.

What charge do the Jews revert back to?

Jesus is a rebel king who poses a threat to Caesar.

What twist do they put upon this charge?

If Pilate lets Jesus go, he is not helping Caesar.  The implied threat is that the Jews will file malpractice charges with Caesar against Pilate.

Why would this frighten Pilate?

Pilate rules at Caesar's pleasure.  Malpractice charges would show weakness on Pilate's part and cast doubts about his judgment.  There were more than enough young up and coming Romans to quickly replace Pilate, thus ending his political climb.

How does Pilate buckle to the will of Caiaphas?

He immediately brings Jesus out to render the official sentencing.

Can you cite something that would show it reasonable that the priestly party in Jerusalem would lodge a complaint in Rome about its governor?

They are Pilate's subordinates in the governing of Judea.  If you had a bad supervisor at work, the normal thing would be to go over their head.  The Jews had certainly done this when Herod had gone to Rome to be titled king.

Who has won the battle—Pilate or Caiaphas?

Caiaphas--totally!

Pursuing the Victory

Read John 19.14-16

Why does Pilate bring Jesus out before the crowd one more time?

Pilate brings Jesus out for sentencing, a public event.

How does Pilate rub salt in Caiaphas’ wounds?

He mocks Jesus as "your king."

Prove that Caiaphas badly wants Jesus crucified.

Caiaphas claims the Jews have no king but Caesar.

What is Caiaphas admitting about the last 60 years of Jewish history?

The Jew's claim that they have been independent allies of Rome is a lie.  They are subjects of Caesar.

Read John 19.19-22

Prove that Pilate’s final insult to Caiaphas galled him.

Caiaphas visits Pilate to have Pilate change the placard over the crucified Jesus.

Prove that Pilate, not being able to carry out justice, will at least try to get even with Caiaphas.

Pilate curtly replies that the inscription will stand.

Who has won the war—Pilate or Caiaphas?

Caiaphas.  Pilate is reduced to fighting with words.  Jesus is crucified and all Pilate can do is insult Caiaphas.  That's the role of the defeated.

Consolidating the Victory

Read Matthew 27.62-66

What happens on the Sabbath, the day the Jews are to do no work?

Caiaphas is busy working on Pilate in a meeting.

Compare the location of this meeting with the location of Caiaphas’ first meeting with Pilate on early Friday morning.

Now Caiaphas wants a private meeting so he is inside the palace, though that would make him ceremonially unclean for Passover.

Who does Caiaphas need to consolidate his victory?

Caiaphas needs Pilate's soldiers to guard the tomb and make sure Jesus' body stays in there.

Prove that Pilate has been utterly defeated by Caiaphas.

Pilate simply turns the soldiers over to Caiaphas' control and tells him to do it however he wants.

Look briefly at Matthew 28.11-15 and show how true our assertion of Caiaphas’ utter triumph over Pilate is.

The soldiers break their military chain of command and report to Caiaphas, a civilian!

“God Keep the Tsar (and the Rabbi) Far from Each Other!”

In Fiddler on the Roof, a man asks the rabbi if there is a fitting prayer for the Tsar. He wittily replies, “God bless and keep the Tsar…far away from us!” He just as well could have prayed that relations between church and state be kept far away from each other!

The founding fathers of the United States established a clear separation of church and state. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (Article I, Bill of Rights).”

Judging from history one could make a point that they wanted not only wanted to keep government out of the religion business, but also wanted religion’s hold over politics broken!

How is Caiaphas very much like the modern mullahs and imams of Iraq and Iran?

Caiaphas, like the Iraqi and Iranian religious leaders, did not want to BE the government as much as he wanted to control the government.  He saw the church as being above the government, with the government existing to serve the church.  Government was to enforce church laws.  As such, Caiaphas would rely on an uncompromising religious body of beliefs and arouse the mob to exert pressure on government officials.

How can religion destroy the framework of government ruled by law?

The strength of religion is its inability to compromise.  Its belief systems remains the same, generation after generation.  This is what has sustained it in the face of overt persecutions in the past.  Religion has suffered the most when its adherents compromise away their beliefs, often in the face of prosperity.  Everything is written in stone.

The strength of government is its ability to compromise.  Government must govern all and gain consent from the largest possible grouping of its governed.  It can immediately react and adjust to changing circumstances.  Nothing is written in stone.

Religion can destroy the framework of government ruled by law by insisting that the laws of the land be based, not upon reason, common sense and the acknowledged standards of justice, but upon divine revelation drawn from its holy books.  There is no room for compromise and no room for adaptation.  Compromise becomes sin and those outside the religious framework are disenfranchised.

Can you give instances in the 20th century where religion subverted the powers of government for its own cause? Can anyone come up with some in the United States?

The division of British India into India and Pakistan comes quickly to mind.  Certainly Iran in the 1980s and the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s come to mind.  Maybe the establishment of Israel in 1947 could be put in this category.

In the United States, Prohibition is the single, most glaring example.

Would America be a better country if it were ruled solely by the church?

Whose church?  What probably would result is unwise politics, unenforceable laws, prisons overflowing with those who had committed "morality crimes" and a sullen, growing group of citizens thoroughly opposed to its government.

What should be the role of the church in a society ruled by a democratic government?

1. Church should encourage its members to be involved in the democratic process: vote, be informed, legally express your will to elected representatives.

2. When government is considering issues that have moral implications (sorry, the Bible is silent over a 33% or 28% capital gains tax rate!), the church has the responsibility to teach its members about the moral issues under discussion.  Abortion and euthanasia are two topics which readily come to mind.

3. In extreme cases, when government commands people to act in a way which directly is forbidden by God's Ten Commandments, the church must act as a veto power on government by its moral authority and participate in civil disobedience.  Thankfully, this has never yet happened in the United States.

                               Chapter 4: Trumped by the Risen Christ

 

The real battle was about to begin. Caiaphas was intent on keeping Jesus dead!

Haunted by Jesus’ Words

Caiaphas showed great insight into Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ words were lodged in Caiaphas’ heart. Recall the Saturday meeting between Caiaphas and Pilate:

Sir, we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” Matthew 28.63-64

Who had remembered Jesus’ words of promise about the Resurrection?

Caiaphas

Who had forgotten them?

The disciples

You might say Jesus’ words haunted Caiaphas. When Jesus first drove the merchants and moneychangers out of the Temple, the Jews demanded,

“What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” John 2.18-19

Where does this saying of Jesus, about destroying “this” temple and rebuilding it in three days, show up again?

At Jesus' trial, two witnesses bring it up.

And there is one more spot! Can you guess it? Look up Mark 15.29-32.

At the cross of Christ while the chief priests are mocking Jesus others are also taunting him to save himself, since he is so big and strong he promised to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days.

What was Jesus promising by these words?

Jesus was promising to rise from the dead on the third day.

Did Caiaphas know that was what Jesus meant?

Hard to say at this point.  The words keep coming up, so Caiaphas has definitely remembered them and tried to use them against Jesus.  They haunted him so much that he broke his Sabbath by appearing at Pilate's palace to get a guard stationed at the tomb.

Hunted by Jesus’ Words

In all honesty, it worked the other way, too. Jesus deliberately went out of his way to teach and reach Caiaphas.

What warning did Jesus give to Caiaphas at his trial (see Mark 14.62)?

Jesus would be Caiaphas' judge on Judgment Day as the Son of God.

Jesus gave Caiaphas warnings long before this, however. Caiaphas was worried that his place would be taken away from him. Jesus’ parable of the Wicked Tenants showed Caiaphas that he was absolutely right. Read Matthew 21.33-46 and fill out the chart.

 

Vineyard

Church on earth

Owner

God

Tenants

Caiaphas and the Jews

Master’s servants

Prophets

Heir

Jesus

New tenants

Gentiles

 

How did the teachers of the law and the chief priests react to this parable and why?

They want to arrest Jesus, but are afraid that the people, who think Jesus is a prophet, would riot.

They feel this way because they know Jesus is telling the parable against them!

The Parable of the Two Sons was also directed at the religious leaders (Matthew 21.28-32). What did Jesus accuse them of in that parable?

They said they would do God's will, but they did not do it.  John came sent from God, but they rejected his baptism.

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet was also directed at the religious leaders—Jesus accused them of paying no attention to God the Father’s invitation to come into the wedding banquet—heaven—by faith in his Son.

In fact, Jesus’ teachings during Holy Week end up in the “Seven Woes” which he preaches directly at the religious leaders. In a stunning climax he says,

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berakiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” (Matthew 23.33-35)

Do you remember who else had said almost the same thing to these very same people about three and a half-years earlier?

John the Baptist (Matthew 3.7-12).

Confronted by Jesus’ Words

Caiaphas knew Jesus was “gunning for him.” Jesus had accused Caiaphas of unbelief, vainglory, disbelief in the Bible, a refusal to accept miracles and the resurrection of the dead. And all this was true! Caiaphas knew it! But there was one teaching of Jesus which brought all this together. He taught it within the last six months before his death.

Read Luke 16.19-31

Why wouldn’t the rich man’s five brothers be helped by Lazarus coming back from the dead?

Miracles do not convert anyone.  Only the Word of God does, the very Word the brothers do not believe.

Who would come back from the dead?

Jesus

Who wouldn’t believe it with saving faith?

Caiaphas

Did Caiaphas Know Jesus Rose from the Dead?

That is the question. How tough a cookie was Caiaphas? Would he love his position of power and earthly honor so much that he would reject the Savior? Jesus seemed to say so repeatedly during his parables. Let’s follow the money, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!

Caiaphas was a man who knew how to make a buck stretch. They had paid Judas 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus. Judas, in an attempt to make amends for his sin of betraying the Savior to death, threw the money back into the Temple. Caiaphas doesn’t want to waste the money!

Read Matthew 27.6-10

What is ironic about Caiaphas’ qualms about keeping the money?

By his actions he is the man who turned the money into blood money.  His hypocrisy is stunning.  It would be like a pair of teenage boys kill their parents, but their defense attorney pleads for mercy from the judge because the boys are orphans!

What good use did he put the money to?

He bought a "Potter's field," a burial ground for pilgrims who died in Jerusalem.

How, ironically, does that play into our certainty that Jesus is the Christ?

Jeremiah predicted not only the amount of money involved (30 pieces of silver) in the betrayal of the Savior, but also the ultimate use that "blood money" would be put to--the purchasing of a field from a pottery maker.

On Easter Sunday, however, penny-pinching Caiaphas becomes the last of the big spenders!

Read Matthew 28.11-15

What report did the guards bring Caiaphas?

They told Caiaphas everything--the angel, the earthquake, the rock rolled away, the arrival of the women, the conversation between the angel and the women, maybe even Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene.

What report does Caiaphas want the guards to spread?

Jesus' disciples came and stole the body while they slept.

Sleeping on duty was a capital offense for a Roman legionnaire. What would induce soldiers to risk their own lives for people not even over them in the chain of command?

Caiaphas paid them "large sums of money."

What did Caiaphas mean when he said, “If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble?”

Caiaphas would continue bribing his way up the chain of command all the way to the governor, if that's what it would take.  Obviously the amoung of the bribes would rise exponentially the farther up you went.

Why would Caiaphas be handing out blank checks drawn on the Temple treasury?

He knew Jesus had risen from the dead!  He did not question the soldiers' story at all, but simply accepted it.  His immediate reaction is the reaction of a man who is engaging in damage control.  He must have spent more than a few hours figuring out what to do if Jesus really did rise from the dead.

One more thing! When Caiaphas got Pilate to post a guard in the first place, he said, “This last deception will be worse than the first.”

In Caiaphas’ mind, what was the first deception?

The first deception was Jesus claiming to be the Savior, the Son of God.

In Caiaphas’ mind, what would the second deception be?

The second deception would be that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Why had Caiaphas played into the hands of Jesus in publicizing the “second deception”?

The second deception--the Resurrection--would be more damaging to Caiaphas' cause.  By showing he knew the Resurrection to be true, he was also showing his awareness that Jesus was the Son of God.  And, as P. T. Barnum said, "No publicity is bad publicity."  Caiaphas' actions would draw people to the empty tomb.

So, did Caiaphas know Jesus rose from the dead or not? Be ready to defend your answer.

Yes.  He would not have been handing out all that money had he not known.  But he did not believe in it.  Jesus was his enemy, the one who would destroy his way of life as the High Priest.  Like Esau, selling his birthright for a pot of stew, Caiaphas preferred to be High Priest rather than to be saved.

No Teflon Priest

During President Reagan’s years in office, critics lambasted him for having a “Teflon Presidency.” Scandals (and there were the normal, that is to say, many) just seemed to roll off his back. Caiaphas would have given his right arm to have discovered Ronald Reagan’s secret!

Caiaphas had bought a mere fifty days of peace through all his efforts to kill Jesus. It all starts to come back upon him.

 

 

Event

Charge

Caiaphas’response

Acts 2.36

Pentecost

You (and Caiaphas) crucified the Christ

X

Acts 3.14-15

Peter heals the crippled beggar at the Temple

You  (and Caiaphas) asked for Barabbas and killed the Christ

See Acts 4.3

Caiaphas arrests Peter and John

Acts 4.10

Trial of Peter and John before Caiaphas

You  (Caiaphas) killled the Savior

See Acts 4.18

Caiaphas orders them not to preach or teach in Jesus' name

Acts 5.21

Apostles freed from prison, now teaching in the Temple

X

See Acts 5.27-28

Gently bring them in for their trial

Acts 5.30

Peter and disciples defend themselves before  Caiaphas

You  (Caiaphas) killed the Savior by hanging him on a tree

Gamaliel urges restraint

Acts 7.52-53

Stoning of Stephen

You  (Caiaphas) betrayed and murdered the Righteous One

See Acts 7.57-58

pull him outside and stone him.

 

How is Caiaphas doing in escaping the blame for Jesus’ death?

Not well at all

How is Caiaphas doing in getting people to believe Jesus was a deceiver?

More and more people are believing in Jesus--even in the Sanhedrin with Gamaliel there is wavering.

Caiaphas’ Last Great Hope

Read Acts 9.1-2

What plan of action had Caiaphas settled upon?

Kill all the Christians unless they renounced Christ.

How did Saul play into his plans?

Saul would franchise his persecution plan and take it to Damascus.

Read Acts 9.3-6

How does Saul show his utter cluelessness about his religion?

He has no idea who his God is when Jesus appears to him.

Why would this not be surprising, if he was working for Caiaphas?

Caiaphas was able to lose himself in the daily work of religion without thinking too deeply about the significance and meaning of his religion.  Saul, too, was a busy man.

Why is it fitting that Jesus should appear to Saul?

As Jesus had gone head to head with Caiaphas, so he would personally go head to head with Caiaphas' brightest star.

Read Acts 9.10-16

How effective had Caiaphas’ policy been?

Very!  Even the prophet Annanias is so terrified of Saul that he is trying to talk God out of sending him to help Saul.

What was going wrong with Caiaphas’ plans?

His star, his chief persecutor, Saul, had converted to Christianity.

What was happening to Caiaphas’ public reputation and why?

Caiaphas is losing face because everything he does to thwart the growth of Christianity ends up promoting it.

Read Acts 9.19-30

Prove that Caiaphas is a dangerous man still to the Christians in Jerusalem.

The disciples are afraid to see Saul face to face, thinking that he is a spy of Caiaphas'.

Prove that Caiaphas is a beaten man now.

Saul moves freely about Jerusalem and teaches openly about Jesus.  Caiaphas cannot punish him, for he would have to admit his last, great hope had gone bad on him, so he simply pretends it is not happening.

Here’s how the story ends.

Jesus:

I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! Revelation 1.18

Caiaphas:

                      

Ossuary Box of Caiaphas, excavated by Zvi Greenhut, Jerusalem, December 1990. Housed in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

(left)  Inscription on Caiaphas Ossuary.

(bottom)

 

Etching of Caiaphas Inscription. "Joseph, son of Caiaphas"

For a great discussion of Caiaphas’ Ossuary, see Biblical Archaeological Review, September/October, 1992

Religious for All the Wrong Reasons

Caiaphas was in the church for himself. Can you think of reasons why people might be involved heavily in the church for all the wrong reasons—and know it?

Couple living in sin

going to church just to make themselves feel respectable, compensating for knowing what they are doing is wrong by doing something they think is right.  Caiaphas was in church a lot, too.

Guy obtaining an unscriptural divorce

trying to justify his actions and get in good with the pastor so nobody thinks he is a great big sinner.  It would also be a great way to drive the wife out of her church.  Caiaphas would do anything to get rid of Jesus, too.

Addict just released from rehab

may be looking for power from on high to stay off the drugs, but may be looking for soft touches to give him money for his next hit or feed him when he hits bottom.  Caiaphas could get away with a lot of things because of soft hearts in the church of his day.

Lutheran gal who turned Catholic for her husband

trying to preserve the family unity, she submits to her husbands will--falsely thinking that's what the Bible means when it says that--and goes to a church she does not believe in.  Caiaphas was trying to preserve his extended family's way of life, too.

Church councilman

wants the respect of the people he is supposed to be leading so he better go to church.  his attitude is Law motivated.  I bet Caiaphas had a lot of days when he felt he had to go to church.

Pastor

all the wrong reasons--remember!  maybe it's a power trip.  for once a little man can have his say and be the big fish in the little pond.  maybe he is delusional and thinks that his ideas and plans are hatching right out of the head of God.  If there's anything Caiaphas did well, it's wield power.

Pastor’s wife

ever hear of the power behind the throne?  she can be the first in on the juicy gossip, being privy to the lives of hundreds of people.  with a little wooing and cooing she can make her husband, Rev. Milktoast, do anything she wants and who's going to stop here?  she has neither a call nor an elected office in the church!  the only way to get rid of her--well, that won't work, because most Christians would be hesitant to poison somebody!

President of the United States

Not the current President or any of the past ones--we're talking hypothetically here!  what better way to stay in touch with your Evangelical or Moral Majority bloc of voters than showing up regularly in a Christian house of worship!  Or a synagogue to show your support for Israel!  Or a mosque to show your awareness of the Moslem voters!

Pastor’s mother

see Pastor's wife, only add 25 years.

Embezzling treasurer

who would have ever guessed he took all that money!  he was the best member we had.  he never missed church!

Can you think of times when you are involved in church for all the wrong reasons?

I think you all can come up with numerous times on your own.

What is the only good reason to be involved with the church?

We go to church to hear the Good News of our salvation.  Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you as well, Jesus said.  Yes, you can make great friends at church--even find a wife!  Yes, your family and marriage will be stronger.  Yes, you will enjoy a good reputation.  But even if all those things were taken away, there is something that cannot be taken away.  Remember "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"?  The kingdom ours remaineth.  That is the only good reason to be involved with church and that reason is the only reason which will not lead you into detours.