The “Sanhedrin” was the 71-member ruling religious court for the Hebrews. As such, they should have been the most fair-minded, conscientious group Jesus could have encountered. But they knew the conclusion before the “trial” ever started. They gathered, not to weigh evidence, but to find a reason to do what they’d already decided to do.
- It’s easy—almost too easy—to look at the members of the Sanhedrin who pre- judged Jesus and think, “How awful they were!” What aspects of their attitudes or behaviors can you identify in your own life? How can you remain open to the ways that God’s message might come to you even through an “unlikely” person?
- A long view of this story becomes truly sobering. The Sanhedrin saw themselves as the “best of the best,” the leaders of God’s people on earth. Yet when God came among them in person, they condemned him to death. How can we keep our faith centered on God’s goodness, not our own righteousness and traditions?
Back in the day, I would read or hear this story and my blood would grow hot toward the Sanhedrin and the Pharisees. They were the bad guys in these stories it was plain to anyone who heard them.
Over the years the complexities of Jesus relationship with the religious establishment became clearer, until one day as I was sitting in a council meeting, and I realized, I am one of the Sanhedrin, well…not exactly, but I think you get the point. I too was a religious professional…just like my dad, my uncles, my grandfather… Gasp! Maybe we are descended from the Levites!
Those who condemned Jesus to die were good people, well as good as we people tend to get. Lest we get judgmental about those who judged Jesus, this is not where I am going with this (that topic is for another day.) They were faithful, eager to follow God’s will, and they were like as not compassionate within their culture and setting.
I like to think, that I too am “good people,” at least on most days, I like to think I am faithful and compassionate and eager to follow God’s will. If Jesus came rolling into a Conference Pastors meeting ya gotta wonder how we would react? It is I guess an unfair question but it does lead me to one that I think maybe more helpful for us.
How willing are we to let Jesus come into our lives and shake things up?
Would we and do we recognize him when he shows up today, because he does! In this light, Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The promise that Jesus still comes before us is both a great comfort and a blessed challenge!