by Tim Mueller
I clearly remember one of the first times I read the Biblical accounts of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. One of the things that caught my attention was the fact that there were so many Old Testament prophesies that his life, suffering, and death fulfilled.
Read Isaiah 53:2-5 below:
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him…
Now take a minute to read the text for today: John 18 to 21.
Writers of the synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and John – were by all historical accounts poor and, therefore, uneducated men. Yet they each state in their accounts of Jesus last days that Old Testament prophesies that are fulfilled as Jesus life ended.
I have two questions:
- If the writers of the Gospels knew of these prophesies, didn’t the High Priests and Pharisees know as well?
- If the Old Testament foretold the coming of the Messiah – what his appearance would be and that he would die painfully -wouldn’t the learned men of Israel have known this?
Zechariah 11:12 says “I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay: but if not, keep it. So they paid me 30 pieces of silver.”
When Judas went to the Chief Priests, he asked “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him (Jesus) over to you?” They counted out 30 pieces of silver.
The priests knew their scripture very well. How could they not believe that the man in their midst, the man who was teaching and healing and bringing people hope, was the Messiah of prophesy?
What I have always wondered is whether the High Priests and Pharisees felt they were somehow obligated to fulfill prophecies they were well aware of?
- Were they trapped, so to speak, by some predestination to arrange the death of the Messiah?
- Prophesy is pretty clear that The Messiah would be rejected and spurned by his own people – did the High Priests of the holy temple take this duty upon themselves?
Or – did it come down to, as it does so many times, human characteristics such as greed and power?
Jesus was clear; he did not have a high regard for the Pharisees and High Priests.
The evolution and interpretation of God’s laws that held the people of Israel in check during the time when Jesus was on Earth were interpretations that sometimes went against the spiritof the laws God had given to his people.
The High Priests and Pharisees had to know that if they accepted and worshipped Jesus as the Messiah, their roles within the ruling class of Israel and the power and influence that went with those roles would be curtailed or eliminated.
The only answer to the leaders’ lack of understanding about who Jesus was (and is) is their greed and power. There is a reason why greed is listed among the gravest of sins in the Bible. The power and pull of greed is enough for many people today to turn away from Jesus or to reject him altogether.
Why would we think the High Priests and Pharisees of Israel were immune to its lure – even when staring into the face of God.