Summary: Let's talk about the what, why, and how of envy (The "How" is from Ray Fowler at: http://www.rayfowler.org/sermons/lord-i-have-a-problem/dealing-with-envy/)
The devil was once crossing the Libyan Desert, and he came upon a spot where a number of small devils were tormenting a Christian hermit. The Christian man easily shook off their evil suggestions. The devil watched their failure, and then he stepped forward to give them a lesson.
“What you do is too crude,” he said. “Permit me for one moment.”
With that he whispered to the holy man, ‘Your brother has just been made bishop of Alexandria.’ A scowl of envy at once clouded the serene face of the hermit. ‘That,’ said the devil to his minions, ‘is the sort of thing which I recommend.’”
From Luke 23:1-5 we start to look at the public trial of Jesus Christ. This is the most famous trial in human history. This verdict against Jesus is a verdict that is always on appeal. As we look at Luke 23:1-25 we need to put ourselves in this company that is gathered around Jesus. For, if I understand anything about reading the Bible, it is the fact that we must never treat something like this simply as history, for in reality what happens here is also happening in our own hearts. In fact, today, as we look at the group that has gathered around Jesus and we re-try the case in our own heart, we will find that we belong somewhere in this story.
Today we look at this assembly who rose and led Jesus off to Pilate. Who was this assembly? “At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them.” Luke 22:66, NIV. The other Gospels tell us that Jesus stood before Annas and before Caiaphas throughout Thursday night. The Sanhedrin, however, could not legally conduct business at night. Therefore, it was necessary for them to meet early in the morning to give some legality to the proceedings against Jesus. The Sanhedrin was composed of 24 chief priests (Sadducees), 24 scribes (Pharisees), and 24 elders of the people. Rome, when it governed provinces, always allowed as much autonomy as possible. The Sanhedrin, along with Rome, ruled the Jews. The Sanhedrin could not sentence a person to death. But they had broad ranging powers. This council represented all the Jewish people including all of their opposing political and religious views. This council was often filled with strife. They argued about everything and could be at each other’s throats immediately. However, when it came to Jesus Christ there was no arguing, no dispute. The only ones who may have disagreed were Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (good change they were uninformed of this emergency meeting). When it came to Jesus the Sanhedrin considered him enemy #1. We find early on in the Gospel of Luke: “But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.” Luke 6:11. Toward the end of Luke’s Gospel we find this: “and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus” Luke 22:2. Why such animosity against Jesus by the leaders of the Jews?
We could say that they were concerned about doctrinal purity: Luke 22:66-71 they know that Jesus has spoken blaspheme, making himself equal with God. But they knew that this charge would not get anywhere before the Roman governor, and they needed his approval to put Jesus to death so they had to come up with other charges.
We could say that they are concerned about Jesus subverting the nation (Vs. 2): This charge is rather vague. Perhaps they mean that Jesus’ teaching had guided the nation down a wrong path with their relations to the Romans.
We could say that they are concerned about Jesus’ views on taxation (Vs. 2): This charge is an outright lie. Jesus never encouraged his followers to avoid paying taxes (Luke 20:21-26)
The third charge here is a half truth. Jesus did claim to be Christ, Messiah, a King. This charge Pilate investigated (learn more about him next week) and found to be without validity (Vs. 4).
The fourth charge in the first part of Luke 23 is that Jesus is a trouble maker (Vs. 5). These were all trumped up charges to get Pilate aroused. Why were these men so strongly opposed to Jesus Christ? It was not that they had suddenly become patriotic toward Rome. Pilate knew exactly why they hated Jesus and wanted to get rid of him. “knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.” Mark 15:10, also Matthew 27:18.
Thesis: Let’s talk about the what, why, and how of envy
What is envy?
The Dictionary’s Definition: "Anger or discontent at the good fortune or possessions of another". The word literally means "to look at with evil intent..." Called "the Green Eyed Monster" because it portrays someone who is looking so hard that his eyes turn green.