Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret. Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.” (John 18:19-21)
Relate: Julius Caesar and Pompey were in no way friends. At first Pompey was the greater of the two. He was hailed as a brilliant general and strategist early on because of his victories over another general, Sulla who had become too powerful himself. After his victories, Pompey chose to rest on his laurels enjoying dominance of the political machine that was Rome. While he was lounging about the city, however, Julius Caesar was marching all around France exterminating an entire race of people known as the Gauls.
Caesar’s successes piled one on top another was garnering him more and more fame out on the “frontier”. Out of jealousy Pompey and the Senate demanded that he come home and retire his army. Julius rightly believed his life would be in danger if he fully complied. So he decided to meet them halfway. Caesar came home… with his unstoppable army at his back. Now it was Pompey and his supporters in the Senate who were on the run while Julius enjoyed the fruits of dominance in the city for the rest of his life. Of course, that remaining length life was not to be nearly as long as he would have wished.
React: Caesar’s assassins, Julius Caesar, Pompey, Sulla, and many others who were vying for power the two generations before Christ was born would all couch their actions in the fictional language of justice, law, right or some other nonsense. They were all defending themselves against the “evil…” embodied in whoever they were killing or exiling. This is how they motivated the armies, the Senate, the plebes or whoever else they were trying to convince to follow them in their ghastly machinations. This was simply the way power and politics worked at that time in history.
The elite of the Jewish priesthood were steeped in that culture. The position of high priest was a rotating door. The office was filled by someone different pretty much every year and the way to become high priest was to curry favor with whoever happened to be in power in Rome at the moment. Ciaphas currently held the title and Annas was his puppet master who did well as the one pulling the strings of a majority of those who held the office during his lifetime. These men were masters at Roman politics. They knew all about burying their naked grab for power behind noble words designed to stir up the masses.
It’s my opinion that when they asked Jesus, “What are you really teaching” they were expecting him to be playing the same games they played. Whether they were hoping he would either cut them in on it or that they just wanted to expose him is a toss up, but the concept that what Jesus said and taught and did was exactly what it seemed was, to them, incomprehensible. From the cradle to the tomb Jesus lived a life of integrity in a world that ran on duplicity.
Help me to be a person of integrity. Help me to mean what I say and to say what I mean. Don’t let me couch ambition or pride or greed behind noble sounding words or ideals. Help me to keep a check on my motives that they might always be pure and honoring to You.