Saturday in the Fifth Week of Lent

by The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell

You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed. — John 11:50

Caiaphas, the high priest, speaks. The religious leaders are profoundly threatened by Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead. They are frightened that his popularity will attract greater repression from the Roman occupiers. They are also afraid that this will shake their status and security, for they serve in collaboration with and at the pleasure of Rome. And on an even deeper level? They don’t understand what is happening with Jesus. How could someone call a dead man out of the tomb? Jesus has claimed to be “resurrection and life.” Is this blasphemy? What kind of life might this be?

They are afraid of what they don’t understand and the hidden places it touches in their souls.

Is Caiaphas right that Jesus could bring down the wrath of Rome on both the people of Palestine and their leaders? Is his a necessary devil’s bargain — to sacrifice one charismatic figure for the sake of keeping the uneasy peace?

And we? What kind of self-deception or betrayal of our integrity will we engage in to hold onto our power, our privilege, our safety? What do we do when we are afraid? What is happening deep in our souls?