Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Wednesday Before Easter: Day of Retirement

This is an excerpt from The Immortal Story by Felix R. McKnight:
On Wednesday of His Passion week Jesus of Nazareth sought seclusion in the quiet of friendly Bethany homes.

No record of events of this day in His life is known.

But wicked schemers the troubled Pharisees and Scribes who feared the challenging power of the Son of David, met to plan details of His death.

To openly assassinate Him would bring down the plague of the people. Betrayal and crucifixion was the plan. The right moment had to be found.

To the court of the high priest, Caiaphas, went the plotters to counsel together. The Sanhedrin, supreme council of the capital's ruling chiefs, was crowded with priests who benefited from the Temple's merchandising, Scribes who tended the law and Elders who represented the middle class.

Why did this group seek the death of Jesus?

Greed and personal interests were the underlying causes.

Intertwined in every business in Jerusalem, from the high to the low, was religion. The high priests were beneficiaries of tithes, taxes from Temple trading, food from sacrificial animals and even from payments for first-born infants.

It was their privilege to take from herds and crops. Under the law even the bread on their tables came from Jews who were compelled to give the twenty-fourth part of the bread baked in their homes. They sold animals to be used in sacrificial offerings and formed secret partnerships with the moneychangers.

Shamefully, the Temple of God became a bartering post around which was wrapped the very life of Jerusalem. Off the Temple lived the priests and the wealthy. Merchants depended upon the priests and the rich and the millions of pilgrims drawn from over the world to the tainted house of worship.

The poor existed from scraps dropped them by those who desecrated the Temple.

To challenge this violation of God's House came Jesus. His teachings substituted love of man for every mercenary scheme and threatened the continued existence of an infamous network.

Many attempts to trap Him with cunning questions had failed. Jerusalem was crowded with foreigners for the Sacrifice of the Passover and tens of thousands were either listening to or hearing of His teachings. It troubled the Pharisees.

Only Nicodemus arose in the Sanhedrin to attempt defense of Jesus but he was quieted by fearful shouts of others that if He were permitted to continue His teachings and gather great followings, the Romans would come in conquering strength and seize the nation.

Finally, the decision was made. Jesus was to be seized before the Passover. But they were cowardly and still feared the wrath of the people. Many schemes were discussed for the actual murder, but it was decided against assassination on the day of the Passover "lest there be an uproar among the people."

But on the next day came a traitor to solve their problem.

Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve Disciples, was to betray his Master for thirty pieces of silver — a modest sum for an avaricious man. It could not have been more than $20.
A small price for a man's life. And no one knows to this day the mystery of Judas Iscariot. We know only:

"Then entered Satan into Judas."

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