April 09, 2019

Render unto Caesar

Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar. Give to God that which God alone embraces.

The life of Jesus: His last week - By Wednesday morning, Jesus had dispelled any notion he was a political leader. To the pilgrims in Jerusalem, he only appeared to be interested in preaching about his father’s values. Even though he often mentioned God’s Kingdom, not once did he attempt to start a revolt against the Romans
On this day he chose to preach once again on the steps that lead into Herod’s Temple from the Gentile’s Courtyard. With the Temple’s Gold and silver plated gate behind him, Jesus spoke from the heart for over an hour. Although his presence on the steps that lead into the Temple thoroughly annoyed the priests, they did not dare censure him again.

Wednesday afternoon: the pilgrims were becoming increasingly disillusioned. Rumors and whispers circulated among the thousands gathered for Passover. Jesus was not the Messiah they were looking for. Many felt betrayed. Betrayal led to frustration and frustration became anger. Disappointed, frustrated and enraged that Jesus would not free them from Roman rule, the crowds began to disperse. Adoration quickly became open hostility. Many of the men were Jewish nationalists, or nationalist sympathizers. For them his failure to lead a revolt was a bitter disappointment. Scuffles broke out between those who followed Jesus and the nationalists.

Caiaphas the High Priest sensed he had an opportunity to humiliate this outsider. He sent spies into the dwindling crowd to ask Jesus if he was loyal to Caesar. Jesus was careful, however, to avoid any words that could be construed as a challenge to Roman rule with the response:

“Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar. Give to God that which God alone embraces.”

That reply, however, was overshadowed by his frequent allusion to the Kingdom of God. Jesus used the phrase to describe the world he wanted to create on earth. For the pilgrims who had come to celebrate Passover, it was a phrase that could be interpreted as encouraging a rebellion against Roman rule. That was an act of sedition.


Late Wednesday afternoon, Caiaphas the High Priest called another session of the Sanhedrin Council. He spoke with grim authority.

“For three days that renegade has preached in the Court of Gentiles and below the Temple Mount. The first day, everyone who heard him was filled with joy. The second day, many began to have doubts he would be their liberator. Today the crowd dwindled down to a handful of disciples and curious pilgrims. He is losing favor with our people. Today someone even jeered that he has lost his magic power.... I have decided to act. With the help of the Levites, we can turn the crowd against him.”

“Why should we bother?” said a council member “his preaching is dying a natural death.”

“And he has the right to speak,” said another.

The other members of the council nodded in agreement. There was a whisper of conversation among them. Caiaphas was thoroughly annoyed.

“If we let him go, he will continue to be a thorn in our side. He is very charismatic and obviously smart. He has an agenda. This disappointment among the people is temporary. As soon he starts healing again, they will flock to him as before.”
Caiaphas raised his arms to appear as imposing as possible.
“We must get rid of him and his so called Apostles!”
There was more whispering among the council members. One stood up to speak.
“The Chief Priest is right. We must end this now, while we have him close to us. Let us turn the rabble against him, let us call him a traitor for his failure to get rid of the Romans, let us tell them his message is blasphemy, let us destroy his character and smear his name.... they will be angry enough to do our bidding.”
“No, no,” called out another priest as he stood up to speak. “Let us wait to see what happens tomorrow. If he still annoys us we can act then.”
Caiaphas looked over the members of the Council. “Let us decide what to do.... right now.”

That decision took almost an hour. But in the end, the Council decided to wait until Thursday morning to make a final judgement.

“Am I Your Son?”


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