Summary: We feel stuck in responsibilities, trying to maintain something just because we’ve inherited it, and are tempted to think of leadership as image. In a relationship to Christ, responsibility is transformed into freedom.
He was tired to the bone, but rose to go trim the wicks and boost the light again. How many times had he been to these lamps tonight? How many times had he wanted just to give it up and go to bed? How many times had he hoped that some magic answer would swoop in his open window and land on his writing-table? How many times had he wished for relief from all his responsibilities?
How good it would be to have a break! A week at the seaside; that sounded good! Refreshing breezes, cooling and soothing. Or maybe a few days in the mountains to the east, where a man could get away from the pressures of the city and breathe clean air for a while. A vacation! That was what he needed. A vacation! Fresh air, time away from the desk, a few days with nothing to do but relax. He began to daydream about it.
But no. No. Can’t afford to do that. There are too many things to be done. Too many people depending on him. His work is important. There are decisions to be made and payrolls to be met, problems to be solved and programs to undertake. No, no, got to be responsible. Cannot shirk, cannot let up, cannot get away; got to be responsible.
He went back to work. The budget. Oh, the budget. Where would the money come from to do everything that everyone wanted done? The roof is leaking again … again, after all that had been done, and the building isn’t even old. But that has to be fixed. It will cost.
And then there are the personnel costs. Why in the world do we have to have so many workers here, and what do they all do anyway? For pity’s sake, more security? More guards, just to do nothing but hang around and make sure the place is secure? Do we absolutely have to have that? And musicians. Oh, the musicians. No matter how many you get, they always want more. More singers in the choirs, new instruments to play on, an improved rehearsal room. They want it all! How was he going to feed that voracious appetite!?
The budget, the money, the institution. If it isn’t the roof, it’s the musicians; and if it isn’t the roof or the musicians, it’s new robes for the priests, it’s cushions for the seats in the Court of the Women, it’s a new animal stall for the Court of the Gentiles. It’s always something. Why, some of these people even wanted him to send scarce funds overseas. How in the world was he going to meet all these demands?
Caiaphas the high priest felt stuck. He felt stuck, trapped in his responsibilities. He felt as though the very weight of the world was on his shoulders, that he couldn’t move, he couldn’t enjoy life, he couldn’t do anything, because he was stuck in responsibility.
For one thing, Caiaphas felt stuck in responsibility just for maintaining the institution. He had a job to do, and knew that he must do it. Nobody else would do it. No question about it. He had to maintain the Temple institution. There really wasn’t any time to ask questions about why the Temple was to be maintained. Nor could he worry much about what the Temple’s mission was or what its priorities were. The job was: just keep it going. He could have spent all day every day seeing that the building was clean and the bills paid and the program carried out. Caiaphas, this night, felt stuck, captured, in the sheer drudgery of keeping it going. Day after day after dull, drab day.
The job was not made any easier, by the way, by that Jesus fellow who had swept through the Temple precincts the other day with his whips and his rhetoric about a den of thieves. Business had not been back to par since. Just how was anybody supposed to maintain the Temple if the revenues were cut off? Just how would the bills get paid if the system were disturbed like that?
Caiaphas blinked his eyes and moved the lamp a little closer to his parchment page. The figures just wouldn’t add up. Too much going out, too little coming in. And you know what they say: that if your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall. Caiaphas was upset about Jesus and his challenge to the institution.
Jesus. What a problem this Nazarene had become! Who would have thought, three years ago, when reports began to filter in from up in Galilee, that one little preacher should become an issue? The man was strange, sure, but it should not have made ripples for him to wander around those little ne’er-do-well villages talking about loving God and neighbor. There should have been no worry about a footsore rabbi, mouthing sweet nothings like "blessed are the poor in spirit." Nothing revolutionary about that!