Mark 14: 53, 55
“They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled…Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death.”
In his book 24 Hours That Changed The World, Adam Hamilton points out that the people responsible for arresting Jesus were the religious leaders, the Sanhedrin, those lifted up into positions of authority as examples of sincere faithfulness and love for God. It’s easy for us to read about these leaders and visualize them as villains, cloaked in darkness, wearing black robes, with hatred and evil in their hearts. But what if they were not so unlike us? What if these men truly believed that what they were doing was right? What if they thought they were defending God and the faith they were given? What if they were sincere but sincerely wrong? I think the truth is that many of them acted out of a mix of motives, and I think the truth is that all of us who claim to be faithful to Jesus run the same risk that they did. By standing on what we believe, we run the risk of being wrong.
What is it about religion that is so dangerous to life with the living God? First, issues of faith are about ultimate reality. So when we think we finally understand something about how the world and God really are, we stand firm on it, as we should. There is nothing wrong with that and everything right with that…until we misunderstand who God is, what is true, and so misunderstand how God wants us to live. Then we stand firmly on the wrong things, and our lives are lived against God. Second, we like certainty because it leads us to feel secure. So we crave firm, black and white answers because we feel secure that we are in the right. The problem with this is that we start worshipping our answers to life, our ideas of God instead of worshipping the One True God who is mysterious, way beyond the understanding of our 3 1/2 pound brains and who can only be known when He gracefully reveals himself to us! Following Jesus is an exercise in being embraced by mystery that brings us to humility! It is more than right doctrine and right living; it is first and foremost a right relationship to God through Jesus Christ!
So what are we followers of Jesus to do? I believe we are called to a personal relationship to our resurrected Lord Jesus. We aren’t so much called to follow the rules of God, the Scriptures given to us by God, the patterns, teachings, and traditions of the Church which speak on behalf of God, as much as we are called to follow the living, resurrected Christ. What went wrong in the faith of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day is the same thing that goes wrong in the faithful today: people began worshipping the forms of faith more than the Living God who inspires such faith in Jesus Christ. May God grant us the humility and the joy of constantly being in a love relationship with Christ so that we may see Him clearly, and follow him and so help him continue to bring resurrection where there is death.