Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas…
While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper…
Matthew 26:3,6 (NIV)
This past November, I gave a message among my local gathering of Jesus’ followers in which I shared a handful of personal lessons I learned about how the world works:
- When a local union threatened and bullied me into quitting a part time job I’d taken for a season to save for college.
- When a local political machine allowed their employees to smoke at work even though it was against the law for everyone else.
- When a powerful businessman and donor of the church successfully twisted the arms of church leaders to wrongfully accuse the staff and force his will on the congregation.
The world has been having a conversation about systemic racism for the past few years, and it’s an important conversation to have. However, along my earthly journey, I’ve observed and experienced that systemic power exists in many forms and affects every person in one way or another. It’s woven into the human experience. Even Jesus was a victim of it.
I couldn’t help but notice this morning, the contrast Matthew presents between the religious power brokers at the pinnacle of the religious system, and Jesus with His followers.
The religious power brokers met in the high priest’s palace, while Jesus and His followers were guests at the home of a former leper whom He’d healed.
The religious power brokers in their palace schemed how to arrest Jesus secretly and kill Him. FYI: it was illegal to arrest someone secretly at night, and they had no legal authority to execute anyone. Meanwhile, Jesus quietly arranged to celebrate the Passover feast with His disciples in a borrowed room.
As the religious leaders broker a deal with Judas to betray Jesus in the middle of the night, Jesus assertively prepares for His fate in fellowship with His closest friends and in prayer. He has, three times in this chapter, demonstrated that He knows what is coming:
“As you know, the Passover is two days away — and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” (vs. 2)
“When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.” (vs. 12)
“Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” (vs. 21)
In the quiet this morning, I can’t help but ponder the difference I see between Jesus and the religious system that killed Him and ponder Jesus’ words: “My Kingdom is not of this world.” What does that mean for me as I endeavor to follow Jesus every day of this earthly journey? As I ponder Jesus example in the chapter I come up with:
Live a life of surrender not of supremacy.
Invest in people, not possessions.
Live a life of giving, not of getting.
Always expect the Prince of this world to use the systemic power of this world to suppress the purposes of God’s kingdom on earth.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.