Chapter-a-Day John 18

Pendulum clock conceived by Galileo Galilei ar...
Pendulum clock conceived by Galileo Galilei around 1637. The earliest known pendulum clock design, it was never completed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the soldiers, their commanding officer, and the Temple guards arrested Jesus and tied him up. First they took him to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. John 18:12-13 (NLT)

Along the journey I’ve become increasingly aware of how systems work in families, in businesses, in communities, organizations and even churches. Within each system there is  a power source that may, or may not, be clearly identified. Most systems have a labeled decision maker or decision makers, but those decision makers may often be influenced in one way or another by individuals who are power brokers within the system.

In today’s chapter I found it interesting to get a peek at the religious system of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day. The high priest, Caiaphas, was obviously the designated leader. So why was Jesus first taken to the house of Annas for questioning and roughing up?  There are a couple of answers to this question.

Annas had been the high priest before Caiaphas and he was Caiaphas’ father-in-law. I can only imagine the political and familial machinations in that family system. The mantel had been passed, but that doesn’t mean that Annas had given up the power behind it. In The Godfather: Part II, Frank Pentangeli may have run his own family and may have been living in the Corleone’s old house, but he still took orders from and answered to Michael. I think Jesus was taken to Annas first because Annas was the power broker and puppet master in the system.

The other reason was that Caiaphas was on a crucial errand while Annas conducted his own personal trial and dished out his own personal punishment with the young upstart Rabbi who had caused the system so much trouble and threatened their lucrative corner of the religious marketplace. Caiaphas was quickly trying to assemble a quorum of the system’s ruling body, the Sanhedrin. He wanted and needed their rubber stamp on the decision to send Jesus to Pilate for execution, and doing so in the middle of the night ensured that the quorum could be handpicked to avoid anyone sympathetic to Jesus’ teaching like Joseph of Arimathea. Of course, holding a trial in the middle of the night was itself against their own law, but power brokers within a system often believe that they are justified in breaking the system rules if they are sure they are protecting the system’s interests. Caiaphas himself said that it would be better to kill Jesus to protect the nation. Of course, killing Jesus and protecting the nation also meant protecting his money, power, and prestige. But, protecting the nation sounds much more altruistic.

As an actor, I often read a story or watch a film and wonder what part I would play. Alternatively, I look at the archetype and ask myself who am I in this scene? Am I the suffering servant or the self-protecting power broker? Am I the betrayer? The denier? The slave? The soldier just doing his job? Today, I’m doing a little soul searching and meditating on the part I play in the various systems in which I am a cog.

2 thoughts on “Chapter-a-Day John 18”

  1. 38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked.
    I love how this small rhetorical question is buried in this chapter. I think today more than ever, people are longing for the truth. It seems that our culture has taken what was once unacceptable, lying, and made it a “stretching of the truth”. In politics and many other kinds of leadership, truth is hard to find. We end up being skeptical about most things spoken because we don’t believe the words to carry any truth. It is a frustrating reality. If you are a person of your word, you will rise to the top. People will trust you, depend on you and listen to you. That is my challenge today. It’s a lot less messy when you always speak truth too.

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