Summary: THE JEWISH NATION HELD A PRIVILEGED STATUS WITHIN THE ROMAN EMPIRE, AND THE SANHEDRIN FEARED THAT JESUS WOULD GAIN A LARGE FOLLOWING, CAUSE A CIVIL UPROAR, AND ANGER THE GOVERNING ROMAN EMPIRE. IF THAT HAPPENED, these religious leaders would lose their...
Title: Consequences of Bad Religion
Text: John 11:47-48, 53
Scripture Reading: John 11:45-53
CHRIST DIED DURING Passover week in Jerusalem.
It was the HIGH HOLY WEEK of the year for the Jewish people.
And Jerusalem was CROWDED with religious pilgrims.
It does not take much reading of the gospel accounts to realize that JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED BY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE.
The voices that shouted, “CRUCIFY HIM!” had frequently prayed in the temple.
The CROSS IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE EVIL that can be accomplished by bad religion.
We are going to consider the CONSEQUENCES OF BAD RELIGION today.
The scripture that we are going to use is JOHN 11:45-53.
“Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.”
LET’S BEGIN TODAY BY GIVING CONSIDERATION TO RELIGION AND THE CROSS.
Jerusalem was the HOLY CITY, and it is still the Holy City for three religions; Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
MARK RECORDS AN IMPRESSIVE LIST of religious leaders who participated in planning Christ’s death.
Allow me describe those very religious people.
THE SADDUCEES were the priestly party whose work and interest focused on the temple.
THEY LOVED A SMOOTH, formal worship service; they had a flair for pomp and ritual.
THE PHARISEES were the legalist whose pride in keeping up the fine points of the law separated them from “sinners.”
THE SCRIBES interpreted and preserved the law.
THE CHIEF PRIESTS officiated at worship and spoke the words of forgiveness.
Completing the group were the ELDERS-community leaders and various rulers.
ALL OF THESE LEADERS MINGLED with a crowd of zealous Jews, many of whom journeyed countless miles for the annual exodus deliverance celebration; the Feast of Passover.
IT WAS NOT THE DOWN-AND-OUT group who crucified Jesus.
THE UP-AND-IN CROWD did it-law-abiding, hard-working, religious people did it.
The next thing to see is that there was a CONNECTION BETWEEN JERUSALEM AND ROME.
THE EASE WITH WHICH THESE RELIGIOUS LEADERS became a party to evil was partly the result of an unhealthy connection to Rome.
THE ROMANS CONTROLLED THE SANHEDRIN; the HIGH PRIEST WAS A ROMAN APPOINTEE who acted at the bidding of the Roman officials.
ONE OF THE CHIEF PRIESTS EXPRESSED THEIR DILEMMA: “THEN THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THE PHARISEES GATHERED A COUNCIL AND SAID, “WHAT SHALL WE DO? FOR THIS MAN WORKS MANY SIGNS. IF WE LET HIM ALONE LIKE THIS, EVERYONE WILL BELIEVE IN HIM, AND THE ROMANS WILL COME AND TAKE AWAY BOTH OUR PLACE AND NATION” (JOHN 11:47-48).
JESUS’ RAISING OF LAZARUS from the dead caused many of the Jews to believe in Him.
JEWISH AUTHORITIES FELT they could no longer allow Jesus to work miracles and convert the Jews.
The Sadducees and Pharisees quickly called a MEETING OF THE SANHEDRIN (the Jewish Supreme Court) to discuss the problem.
THE JEWISH NATION HELD A PRIVILEGED STATUS WITHIN THE ROMAN EMPIRE, AND THE SANHEDRIN FEARED THAT JESUS WOULD GAIN A LARGE FOLLOWING, CAUSE A CIVIL UPROAR, AND ANGER THE GOVERNING ROMAN EMPIRE.
IF THAT HAPPENED, these religious leaders would lose their positions and political power.
The high priest Caiaphas suggested that JESUS SHOULD BE KILLED.
Those leaders, which would be the equivalent of the church today, BOWED BEFORE THE ROMAN GOVERNMENT.
GOD WAS NO LONGER ACKNOWLEDGED as the supreme authority.
THEY WANTED TO PLEASE THE ROMAN OFFICIALS more than they wanted to please God.
BUT THE ALLIANCE that these religious leaders made never paid off.
The power with whom they cooperated TURNED ON THEM in A.D. 70 and destroyed Jerusalem and the temple.
Thousands were KILLED and many were SCATTERED as they ran from the violence.
ONLY EVIL CAN RESULT from an unhealthy connection between church and state.
A FREE CHURCH IN A FREE STATE IS IDEAL.
THEN THE CHURCH CAN EXERCISE ITS PROPHETIC ROLL and petition the state to use its God-given responsibly.