02 April 2010


Consider for a moment the problem from the perspective of a high priest. The temple priesthood had been enduring a series of attacks from pharisees and others. They were very much a Greek influenced intelligentsia and despised as "Hellenizers."

They were in their own view of course defending the holy land and the Jewish people from Roman legions. Keeping the peace, letting Roman commerce flow and suppressing revolutionary factions where with tribute, the elements of the Roman deal. If one failed at them, one found the legions knocking together crosses.

They knew from recent Egyptian and Phoenician history what happened to rebellious protectorates.

So here is Jesus, claiming a father - son relationship with God! Remember these were adamant monotheists -- consider how that sounded. He attacks the basis for their entire claim of legitimacy when he disrupts the sacramental process by driving out the providers of ritually pure animals and coinage. The temple answer to the pharisees was essentially, but remember we maintain the sacrificial system!

What would you do? It is easy to condemn Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin as ruthless politicians. But what would you do? They were confronted with a stream of self-proclaimed messiahs, and most were leading bands of would be soldiers in the fight against Rome. A fight they knew would be a disaster. If Jesus is as they think, another one, then eliminating him simply made sense.

First century Palestine was in the sights of the Roman military. The temple held authority over Jerusalem on Roman suffrage and they were terrified. Terror motivates people to defensive violence. What would you do?

I am not suggesting we consider him for sainthood, but it is possible to understand how Caiaphas got where he was when he orchestrated the execution. Besides all the presure on him, consider that in Mark at least it seems it was easy to get Roman approval for an execution!

What would you do?


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