Summary: This is part III in the series 24. It is a first person narrative taken from the perspective of Caiaphas. The preaching idea: you can’t be your own high priest!
Have you ever wished you could communicate with a loved one who has already passed on? Have you ever thought that perhaps that loved one wishes he or she could communicate with you as well?
In 1999 a film was released that allowed us to imagine that communication across the great chasm that separates the living from the dead is possible. John is a 36-year-old man, whose life is in turmoil, never having gotten over his firefighter father’s death in a warehouse fire in 1969. One day he discovers his dad’s old ham radio and after toying with it hears some guyed named Frank on the other end. After a few days of talking with him they realize that they are father and son, 30 years apart and are talking off “the mother of all sun spots.” John warns his father not to follow his instincts and go the other way in the fire that will happen later that day. As a result Frank does not die and John’s life is changed forever.
(Belfast: Watch this clip…)
The author of the Gospel of Luke shares a story told by Jesus of a rich man and a beggar. The rich man who lived in luxury did nothing for a beggar named Lazarus even though he lay at his door daily. When the two died the rich man was taken to the place of torment while the beggar to the place of reward. Now knowing the consequences of living life as he had, the rich man begs Abraham to send someone from the dead to warn his brothers who are still alive of this place of torment so that they will get their acts together and not come to this same place when they die. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen. His brothers, Abraham said, had the Scriptures and they alone are enough to warn them to turn from their sins.
This morning as we continue in our series taken from the final 24 hours in the life of Jesus Christ we’re going to meet yet another character. If you haven’t been with us over the past couple of weeks, this is a unique series in that I am telling the stories of characters from the perspective of those characters. This character will take less in the form of imagination and tradition to understand, for history has recorded much about him as have the Scriptures.
Tragically his story is not as positive as that of our last two characters. As I share with you I want you to imagine that he, like the rich man in Luke’s story and John in the movie “Frequency” desires to warn you about your future. I want you to imagine that it is possible for someone who already knows of the afterlife to come and speak to you. To come and warn you.
Let us pray…
I hesitate to introduce myself to you. For you know me as a villain. You have come to despise me and even hate me, and for good reason. I am responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.
My name is Caiaphas. I orchestrated and oversaw the nocturnal trial of your Savior. Before you refuse to hear from me or allow your emotional reactions to take over I beg you to listen. I plead with you to learn from my tragic story.
Jerusalem during the first century was the center of the Jewish world; it was the city of God for it contained the Temple in which God resided. While our city and our nation were occupied by the Romans, they had essentially left the power of governing in the hands of our people. That power ultimately rested with me for I was a member of the most important religious and political family in all of Israel. It could be argued that I was the most important man alive for I was the head of the entire Temple. I was the High Priest.
As High Priest not only was I responsible for overseeing and ordering the religious life of the nation but I was also the President of the Sanhedrin, the highest court in the land. For over four centuries the Sanhedrin had ruled the land. All courts were responsible to this body. Made of up 71 members it consisted of chief priests who held the most important offices in the temple (most of whom were of my family), elders – men descended from the 12 tribes of Israel, and scribes who were lawyers and experts at interpreting the Scriptures. This body of clergy and laity became known for its competence and during the era of Roman occupancy was the chief political agency of the land.
The Roman authority let us practice our faith and rule the land as long as we were accountable to them. We were responsible for keeping the Jewish populace in line and should any agitators arise who might threaten the peace, Rome expected us to arrest them and turn them over.