His popularity with the multitudes aroused jealousy in the teachers of the law. There was much muttering. “He is baptizing and everyone is going to him.” Some said He was a good man. No, said others, He is leading people astray. How come He speaks with such wisdom when He has never studied? Could this possibly be the Christ? Surely He is not from God—He has a demon. He is mad. He speaks blasphemously.
A meeting of the Sanhedrin was called.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked.
“Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place (temple) and our nation.”
The crowd that had seen Lazarus walk out of the tomb had spread far and wide the word about a miracle worker. This was the last straw. “See,” said the Pharisees, “this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!”
This man Jesus was not to be tolerated.
That much is not surprising. We understand politics, which certainly had a part in His death. But politics was not the real and inescapable cause. There was something far deeper, unimaginably deeper, which we may spend our lives seeking to fathom. It is revealed in Jesus’ words to His disciples at the Last Supper: “This is my body given for you.”
For us. For us who so desperately need redemption Jesus gave his body. No one could have taken His life from Him. He laid it down of His own volition, to redeem us, for we had sinned. In the person of Adam we had made a declaration of independence—to “do our own thing”—and thus had fallen away from God, “in the terrible, literal sense of the word, towards the negative nothingness of sin, destruction, death, senselessness and the abyss. God’s mysterious grace could not leave man in such forlornness; it desired to help him home—in a manner of such sacred magnanimity and power, that once revealed to us, it is impossible to conceive of any other: in the manner of love” (abridged, from Romano Guardini, The Lord).
He wanted to help us home! Why? There are at least sixteen specific expressions of that divine compassion. I list them in the order in which they are found in Scripture:
1. that we might not perish, but have eternal life
2. to justify us
3. to establish His lordship
4. that we might cease to live for ourselves
5. to rescue us out of this present age of wickedness
6. in order that we might attain the status of sons
7. that we might live in company with Him
8. to save sinners
9. to win freedom for all
10. to make us a pure people, marked out for His own
11. that we might cease to live for sin
12. to bring us to God
13. to do away with sin
14. to undo the devil’s work
15. to bring us life
16. as the remedy for the defilement of sin
(Read the conclusion of this devotional next week in the Elisabeth Elliot Weekly Devotional.)
**Excerpt originally published in the March/April 1996 Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.