Trump Card

From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting,  “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar.  Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”  John 19:12

The moment they said this they had Pilate on the ropes, and he knew exactly what they would say to his superiors.  At this point he had a choice:  save a man he barely knew or understood (even with his suspicions of Jesus’ origins), or save his career.

The Jewish leaders couldn’t have been more wrong in their logic, though.

Just because Jesus claimed to a king didn’t mean anything about His attitude toward Caesar, if it did, then every king ruling under Caesar would be suspect and treasonous just for existing.  For Jesus’ claim to kingship to harbor any threat to Caesar He had to oppose him in some action or political rhetoric in such a way as to support overthrowing him; nowhere in any of Jesus’ teachings can this be found.  So the Jews used the power of suggestion to create an artificial logic based off nothing more than an iota of truth.

But, of course, the situation in Jerusalem had become so explosive by this time, they didn’t need much more than the power of suggestion.  Already these same leaders had complained to the emperor about both Pilate and Herod.  Already the stage was set for their demise, as history records.  What the Jewish leaders didn’t realize (and would’ve resented had they known) was they were being used as pawns in a much larger wargame set in motion eons before the first human ever existed.

Unfortunately, their trump card also trapped them in the end because they declared through the haze of their zeal and animosity towards Jesus,  “We have no king but Caesar!” Just like their ancestors demanded of Samuel, and though him, God, the Jews denied God His sovereignty over their nation.  The blood lust and animosity ran so high they declared themselves subjects to the very ruler they hated the most.  Misguided passion puts us humans in all sorts of trouble, doesn’t it?  John doesn’t record their final acceptance of the consequences of their murder of Jesus where they they cried,  “His blood be on us and on our children!”  Matthew 27:25.  The juxtaposition they placed themselves in at that moment poised them on the brink of disaster.  A generation later the very king they declared as their rightful ruler sent an army to raze their city to the ground.  I’m not sure if any of these particular men were alive at that time, nor if they made the connection between their declaration this night or not, what I do know is they cursed themselves and their children for the sake of getting rid of one man.

The Jews’ love of power, prestige and religious authority left them with no room for God.  The hypocrisy of their stance toward all things law, exposed by Jesus, boiled down to a love of money and social standing.  The beauty of the Jewish economy was that if a man adopted a popular sect such as the Pharisees, he could prosper.  Their teaching came down to this:  If you obey the Laws of Moses and all the rabbinical teachings surrounding them, God will bless you with wealth, honor and life.  Sound familiar?  Money has never been the downfall of humanity, rather it’s the lust or love for it.  Yet I hear plenty of Christians giving lip service to obedience while they revel in the rewards of earth.  While I see nothing in Scripture which indicates wealth itself is evil, I read plenty of references to greed, avarice, and selfishness in the form of ignoring the poor in all their forms as standing outside God’s plan for us.  You can read in Deuteronomy 15 God’s design for wealth and the national welfare system.  No one was to go without.  So, no, God has nothing against wealth or plenty.

The reason the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil isn’t due to the object itself but our attitude towards it.  Anything we believe to be our basis for self-sufficiency and reliance outside of God’s direct supply or control grows out of our desire to be whole apart from Him.  We might mouth the words of dependence and submission, yet our hearts glory in our own power over our circumstances and grow haughty (great pride in oneself and contempt for others) from what we consider our own success.  Completely ignoring in the process the fact that every imaginable means to security and authority only derives its existence from the possibilities created by the Creator.

The Jewish leaders represented Christ as a type.  In other words, they represented Him as priests, which meant they were intercessors for the people of Israel as well as themselves before the mercy seat in the temple.  So they stood as mediators before God for the people while being the mouthpiece of God to the people.  Whatever the declared as true for themselves would represent the nation before God.  Their firm—even vehement—declaration of who ruled them, i.e. Caesar, put the seal on the fate of their nation and themselves until they repented of it, which they didn’t do to my knowledge.  The sheep suffer for the mistakes of the shepherd; the people suffer for the sins of their leaders.  It has ever been thus and will ever be while sin rules our world.  We cannot vote consequences for past sins out of office since, most of the time, the current string of “rulers” continue the trend of their predecessors.

Whoever we submit to as our spiritual master or ruler holds our spiritual future in their hands.  Though we ought to respect our elders and give them our attention, we are also to be as discerning as possible so we can tell if they are of God or the enemy.  Jesus told us we will know them by their fruit.  If their fruit is service to others, submission to the authority of Scripture and humility in their authority, you may be sure we can trust them as far as we can trust anyone in the body of Christ.  This doesn’t mean our salvation becomes subject to them, though, nor does it indicate we give them full reign over our minds or choices.  Shepherds are guides not drivers; they lead by example not by sitting in the cart and cracking a whip over their congregation’s heads.  Those who preach prosperity in the here and now as a blessing of God for obedience must read John 15-17 again to correct their assumptions.  Jesus didn’t say people wouldn’t prosper nor be wealthy—or that anything was wrong with having an abundance—what He did say, however, will happen if we obey His teaching and immulate His life is that what they did to our Master they will do to us.

His path led Him through loss, torture, death and resurrection.  For us to triumph we must follow.  Anywhere else leads to eternal loss.


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2 Responses to “Trump Card”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    This reminded me of my own life. I was to receive a sum of money, a decent amount, and I knew there was a need in the church that it could cover. However, the struggle was my retirement account also could have used that money. I knew what I was supposed to do with it, but I struggled because I worried about my future even though I SAID I trusted God for provision. I gave the money for the need but not without a lot of back and forth indecision before I found the peace I needed to move forward.

  2. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:

    thankfully, in the end God doesn’t look at our struggle as much as the outcome

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