Biblical Audio Commentary – They Took Counsel
From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the rulers of the day had serious issues with Him. Of course, from John the Baptist, we know it wasn’t Jesus who had the problem, it was the rulers themselves.
Following the exile of the Jews to Babylon and their subsequent return by the grace of God to Israel, the realization arose among them that their punishment had been just because of how they’d failed to obey the commandments of the Lord. He had given them the Law, and they had ignored it to do what they’d determined was right from their human perspective. From this arose the sects of the Pharisees and Sadducees whose resolve was to strictly do all the law required. They believed this was pleasing to God, and they counted it among themselves as righteousness.
When John came making the way for the Lord, he wasn’t fooled. The truth was that these men were hypocrites in their faith and were far from God. We see this is Matthew 3:7-10:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
The Jews believed that based on the faith of their ancestors, righteousness was imputed to them from these men. They thought it was their Jewishness that caused God to bless them, and John said – to paraphrase: “No deal. You men are way off base.”
This rebuke should have alerted them to the fact that something was wrong in their belief system, but it didn’t. With the coming of Jesus, they saw Him as a threat rather than the promised Messiah.
The position of the Pharisees and Sadducees was one of prominence and influence. They had the esteem of the people and the ear of their Roman occupiers. As Jesus began teaching, what He instructed clashed in many ways with what these rulers thought and how they behaved. Worse, as time went on, Jesus began proclaiming in so many words that He was God.
This was seriously at odds with the Jewish interpretation of God. They had the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 which declared:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
From this, as far as they were concerned, Yahweh was a monolithic God: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
If they had reflected more deeply, the Jewish authorities would have come to another conclusion. Throughout the Torah – the Hebrew Bible; our Old Testament – God is shown extensively as Someone who is more than one. God is Spirit and cannot be seen with human eyes. However, God physically walked among His people as the Angel of the Lord (and with other depictions, e.g. the Name, the Word, the Right Hand of God, etc.). In this manifestation, He touched, spoke, and interacted with the prophets and others in Israel. For hundreds of years, the Jews understood the concept of the Two Powers in Heaven, or the Two Yahwehs. Beyond that, the Holy Spirit is depicted as operating in the power of God. If the hearts of the Jews had been right, they would have seen that Jesus was the Angel of the Lord made flesh.
But, the hearts of the rulers were full of pride and arrogance. They loved their positions of power and control over the people.
And so it was that Jesus seemingly crossed them one time too many. Matthew 27:1 shows their response:
When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death.
Jesus was inconvenient and had to be eliminated. These rulers convinced the Roman authorities that He must die. In so doing, these men sealed their fate for all eternity.
Fast forward 2000+ years and, sadly, we have similar circumstances – in a sense – with far too many pastors of today.
In a world filled with chaos and confusion, the church continues to present itself as a place of refuge. Every several years the world faces significant difficulties. We’ve experienced wars and pseudo wars (e.g. War on Drugs, War on Terror), debt bubbles bursting, mortgage collapse, inflationary pressures, the COVID scamdemic, election fraud, vaxx injuries without end, lies and more lies. The church should be a place of refuge in this increasingly hostile world.
Unfortunately, the church has taken (literally) a Left turn. Rather than preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, pastors and leaders have determined to alter the Words of God to make them more palatable to the masses, to become like the world. They’ve discarded the wisdom and teaching of Christ for the foolishness of man. Thus, we have churches filled with the garbage doctrines of social justice, Liberation Theology, Black Lives Matter – these three ideologies based on Marxism – plus live your best life now, LGBT promotion, prosperity, NAR Dominionism, and gear up for the Tribulation prepper mentality.
Why do all these ideologies miss the purpose of being in Christ? Churches are led by pastors who have gone down this primrose path and are effectively no different from the chief priests and elders of Jesus’ day.
John called those men a brood of vipers. Jesus called down Seven Woes on them – literally curses (Matthew 23). I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of Jesus cursing me.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. What are the odds that Jesus might declare similar woes to the pastors and leaders of today for their blasphemy? Is it any wonder we’re in the last of the final days before God’s Judgment? I’m surprised the secular Doomsday Clock hasn’t been set closer than 90 seconds to midnight.
If the church is gone, what are the odds that the rest of the world will repent and turn to Christ? Here, let me help answer that question: Approximately zero.
Thankfully, the Lord has made Himself known to a few of us who have mercifully turned to Him. He has also shown us what is to come. It’s not pretty for the world, but it’s glorious for those of us who believe.
Forgive me because I keep saying this: I can’t wait!