Compelled to Preserve

Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man [Jesus] is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” ~John 11:47-48

There were many reasons that the religious leaders of his day did not believe that Jesus was God's promised Messiah. In these verses we get a small and often overlooked clue - fear. The Pharisees and priests felt compelled to preserve what they had. It seemed that the surest way to keep the temple intact and to keep the nation of Israel safe was to maintain the status-quo and endure the Roman occupation. If the people were to name Jesus King of Israel instead of accepting Roman authority, then the Roman army was sure to come and put an end to such an insurrection.

When considered in human terms, with only earthly means and might, the fear of the Jewish leaders was absolutely valid. From their perspective there was no stopping the Roman army.  After all, Rome was the strongest force on earth. Isn't it ironic that the Jewish religious leaders left faith entirely out of their evaluation and out of fear chose the weaker side believing it to be the strongest? Their fear blinded them into choosing a human nation over God incarnate. In vain they put their trust in the things of the earth because in 70 A.D. their fears were realized. The Roman army did attack, the temple was destroyed, and the nation of Israel did cease to exist for nearly 2,000 years.

This is a poignant message for me. I find that I too am tempted to forget faith and to put my trust in the world. Like King Asa, I have put my trust in doctors (2 Chronicles 16:12), I have felt secure when my finances were safely stored up in a bank (Matthew 6:19), and I have trusted in my own abilities (Isaiah 9:9-12). Lately I have come to learn that God can take any of these, or my very life away in an instant, and that I am much much more secure when I put my faith and trust in God.

The Pharisees and priests were caught up in the routine and concerns of their normal lives. They were dealing with the very real and dangerous business of the Roman occupation of their lands as well as all of the mundane everyday distractions that this world provides. Then, suddenly, Jesus burst onto the scene, disrupted their routine, and forced them to face a choice. They were forced to chose between reviving and changing a faith that had grown legalistic and impersonal, or believing what their eyes could see and their mind could imagine; the forces threatening them at that time.  

Jesus - our promised Messiah, our Savior, God Himself - has come and is calling you to trust Him and to allow Him to be King over your life. Like the Pharisees before us, each of us faces a choice to either heed His call or to instead place our faith in the material world. Where do you choose to place your trust?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

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