Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Matthew 26:1–5

Matthew 26:1–5 (ESV): The Plot to Kill Jesus


In Chapter 24 and Chapter 25 Jesus has been talking about “the end”—that is, the end of the world. He now turns to his disciples and gives them yet another very clear message about what is about to happen:

“You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” (verse 2 (ESV))
I’m not sure whether he is alone when he says this to his disciples or whether the religious leaders are still there, but after this the religious leaders meet together in the palace of the high priest (Caiaphas) and plot to kill Jesus—but to do it quietly, and not during the upcoming feast, because they don’t want an “uproar among the people” (verse 5 (ESV)).


Unlike the time when Jesus predicted his death in Chapter 16, no response is recorded from the disciples this time. There have been one or two other times that he predicted his death since Chapter 16, and they’ve remained silent, so they seem to have learned their lesson after Peter’s rebuke.

In some ways I give the religious leaders of Jesus day some credit; there are obviously bad motives for the things they do, but there are also some good motives, too, I think. To be specific, when Jesus claims to be the Son of God, I firmly believe that they really do believe that he’s blaspheming, which would be worthy of the death penalty. (Of course, to be sure about their motives we’d have to know whether they ever went after anyone else for blasphemy, or whether they just focused on Jesus, since he was starting to usurp their authority.) Passages like this make me think that I do give them too much credit, though; if they really, truly cared about the Law, and about punishing blasphemy, would they actually be so afraid of public opinion? Yet we find them in this passage skulking in Caiaphas’ palace, not wanting the people to know that they’re trying to get rid of Jesus. It’s possible that there are still some good motives—that they’re doing what they really believe is right for the people, and think the people just don’t know what’s good for them—but it really doesn’t seem likely.

Regardless whether there are some good motives behind their actions or whether all of their motives are bad, it’s clear that they are mostly acting out of bad motives. If a small portion of their motives were good it would be a small comfort.
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