“The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Him to death, because they were afraid of the people.”
Because they were afraid of the people… God put His heavenly highlighter on those words the other day. Because they were afraid of the people. I find it interesting that the reason the priests and scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death was because they were afraid of the people. One would think they’d be afraid of Jesus. Yet this verse doesn’t say they were afraid of Jesus; they were afraid of the people following Jesus.
Think about it. Before Jesus came, the system was set. The religious leaders knew where they stood; the people knew where they stood. Whether or not they agreed with the way things were, very few dared question the status quo.
Then Jesus came.
I repeat: then Jesus came. And the people not only followed Him and listened to Him but also hungered to hear Him speak. The last verse of the previous chapter even testifies of the influence of Jesus: “Then all the people would come early in the morning to hear Him in the temple complex” (Luke 21:38). The people were not getting up early to listen to the religious leaders share the same old message; they were getting up early to listen to Jesus–to listen to hope.
Even more, the people kept discussing the coming kingdom of Jesus. Sure, many were mistakenly thinking Jesus was about to usher in an earthly kingdom, not a heavenly one; but regardless, the chief priests knew the danger of such practices. They foresaw what might happen if the people continued listening to and following Jesus. And they didn’t like it. They were indeed afraid of the people–and the power of a unified following.
Thus the chief priests and scribes began looking for a way to put Jesus to death before Jesus’ followers attempted to crown Him. I’m sure they probably hoped and even prayed that by doing away with Jesus, the followers would scatter. I’m sure they assumed without the shepherd, the sheep would flee. Yet the religious leaders were only partially correct in their thinking. Yes, without a shepherd, the sheep do scatter. But Jesus is not a normal shepherd. He is I AM; He is the Good Shepherd. And the Good Shepherd came to earth to lay down His life for His sheep (John 10:11). Killing Jesus on the earth did not end His reign; it solidified it. By crucifying Jesus, they were actually fulfilling His ultimate plan. For Jesus knew that in order for there to be a resurrection into eternal life, there must first be a death–the death of a Savior.
So as we say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017–as we discuss what has been and look forward to what might be–I ask you, is the kingdom of darkness afraid of you? Does the ruler of this world tremble at your name?
Whether or not you can answer the above in the affirmative, I encourage you to join me in making it our resolve to follow Jesus in 2017. Let us not look to the left or to the right, but rather, let us keep our eyes fixed on the author and finisher of our faith.
Let the enemy be afraid of us. Let him tremble in fear as each of us chooses to faithfully follow our Lord. Our Good Shepherd may not lead us through the places we want Him to lead us; He may even lead us through the places we least desire to go. But regardless of where He leads us, we can trust that following Him will always lead to Him. And with Him is where we want to be.