Scandal Beyond Words

Scandals are a thing, aren’t they?  Seems like there is always a scandal of some sort going on.  And again, given it is election season we’ll no doubt be hearing more and more as time goes on and the fights between the candidates gets more intense.

[audio http://www.buzzsprout.com/33052/354045-scandal-beyond-words.mp3]

(Those of you that regularly follow know that the audio and text are usually fairly close even though I don’t read the manuscript as such.  In this instance I’d say that the audio is somewhat more interesting.  In any case, thanks for reading/listening. Lance)

The year of 2015 certainly had its share of scandals.  One of the tamer scandals that comes to mind was Tom Brady and deflategate where the New England Patriots won the conference football championship against the Indianapolis Colts with footballs that were underinflated.  Or so it is alleged.  Who really knows about this stuff, anyways?  And I say tamer but I’m thinking the Colts didn’t think it was very tame.  Millions of dollars in the wind there, so to speak.

Lots of money in that scandal and most of the rest are just sad commentary on the frailty of the human condition.  Lots of lies that people are living.  In their relationships and in their approach to life.  Trying to be someone, or with someone, they’re not.  I don’t recommend Googling ‘scandals of 2015’ as the results are something less than uplifting.

It is interesting that so far in 2016 there isn’t much in the way of scandals.  At least as being reported in the mainstream media.  No doubt scandal is going on because, well, that’s what we do but probably because the election is more interesting the scandals haven’t surfaced as much.  But as I noted earlier, they will.

It always seems like there is a celebrity connection to scandals, I suppose.  It brings to mind the OJ Simpson car chase in 1994.  Remember OJ?  Millions of people watched OJ Simpson slowly drive around the interstate system of Los Angeles for about 2 hours.  I can see millions of people watching a high speed chase just anticipating a juicy crash but watching a white bronco surrounded by police cruisers driving around at slow speed?  OJ Simpson was, and still is I guess, an interesting celebrity.

We want some celebrity in our scandals because regular people doing ridiculous, off the chart things isn’t so interesting.  As regular people we’re just not all that interesting when you get right down to it.

But put a celebrity into the mix and now you’re selling all kinds of copies of National Enquirer and the like.  Online sources like TMZ and EOnline are just waiting to provide some sort of scandal scoop.  A scoop on a celebrity garners a lot of attention and interest and thus a lot of dollars and with dollars come power.

Enter the high priests and the chief priest, Caiaphas.  They have a vested interested in the money and power dynamic in a Roman occupied Jerusalem.  They are the head honchos in Jewish society so it is certainly the case that they have a certain amount of celebrity.  They’re celebrities all right but It is hard to make a correlation to anything we have today but these were the important religious figures.

Let’s try this.  Picture that there is one church for all the Lutherans in the world.  To be fair, the Lutheran world wasn’t very widespread at the time and as a result all the Lutherans went to one church.  We’ll call it First and Only Lutheran Church.  Now, First and Only, like any good Lutheran church has a council to run things and take care of things.  And of course, since First and Only is happening in a time 2100 years back, all the council members are men.  That’s the chief priests and elders that Matthew is referrin

Now, there is one of these chief priests and elders that is set aside on an annual basis to be the high priest.  This is an important function in many ways and probably the most important is the yearly function of entering the Holy of Holies to make the proper sacrifices for ALL the good Lutherans.  The holy of holies was the place were God actually existed and to enter there meant you were in the presence of God.  If you had some sin or blemish you’d be struck down if you tried to enter so only the high priest was worthy to make the sacrifices that took care of all the good Lutheran’s sins.

Once a year.  Imagine that you only had confession and forgiveness once a year.  I know that back in the day most Lutherans didn’t have weekly confession and forgiveness like we do but did any Lutheran traditions have it just confession and forgiveness once per year?

These are the people, the celebrities, the powerful and elite who are lined up in tonight’s drama.

And they are plotting a scandal.  A scandal so outrageous that they have to play it out before the beginning of Passover, in a couple of days.  A scandal so over the top that if they pulled it off they’d cause a riot amongst the people.

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and they conspired to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.”

These are ten commandment people and they’re plotting to murder someone.  Which commandment are they planning on breaking? (5th).  This is the high priest that goes into the Holy of Holies once a year, the one who is presumably blameless and so pure that he can safely go into the presence of God and along with the other religious leaders he is the one plotting to murder the son of God.

It’s kind of a big deal.  It’s kind of bad.  It’s kind of a surprise.  It’s very much a scandal.

They’re going to rely on corrupt officials.  They’re bringing in fixed juries.  They’re bringing in mobs.  All for one purpose.  To kill the one person who threatens their power and authority.  That’s what it comes down to.  It’s very much a scandal.

It would be easy to sit back and point fingers at these Jewish religious leaders and call them evil men, blaming them for the scandal of Christ’s trial and execution.  Some religious traditions still very much blame the Jews for killing Christ.

The only problem with that is we bear our own responsibility for Christ’s death, even to this day.  The problem isn’t Jewish religious leaders, the problem is sin and unless I miss my guess we struggle with it today.  Take a minute and think about our collective sins and your own personal sins.

These guys were planning a horrible scandal but if we’re honest about it we have to ask ourselves if we’ve ever planned on sinning?  It makes me think of 21st birthday celebrations.  We’ve probably not planned to sin to the extent these guys were but remember, sin is sin.  There’s no sliding scale or bell curve with sin.  You sin or you don’t.  And we know the answer to whether we sin or not.

So it is.  It is for the sin of the world that Christ was tried and crucified.  It’s very much a scandal.  But it’s not the end of the story.

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