The Fear of the Jews

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“What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” (John 11:47-48)

The chief priests and the Pharisees with their scribes were thrown into a panic when they heard that many people had come to believe in Jesus. For them, Jesus had to be killed to save their nation. The particular fear of the Jews was that if Jesus is not killed, He would soon be considered as king by the people and the Romans would be threatened to destroy their nation.

The fear of the Jews was concretely expressed in John 19:12 “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend; everyone who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar.” When Pilate, the Governor heard these words, he realized he had no choice but to consent to the death of Jesus.

Like Herod who killed all the male children born at the time for fear of a rival king, the Chief priests and Pharisees were shaken with fear. Caiaphas speaking prophetically as High Priest noted: “It is expedient for one man to die than for a whole nation to perish.” Little did Caiaphas know that he had just summarized the entire mission of Jesus Christ on earth – “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28).

Although the fear of the Jews was baseless, their actions brought about the fulfilment of God’s divine plan of salvation for mankind. Fear is such a dangerous thing. When we are controlled by fear, like the Jews, we make decisions that we always regret later. The truth is that the real fear of the chief priests and pharisees was that Jesus was a “bad market” for them. Their problem with Jesus was that He was bold enough to tell them the truth; to challenge the establishment.

Jesus referred to the chief priests and pharisees as hypocrites, white-washed tombs who loved to be greeted obsequiously while praying in the market place meanwhile their hearts were full of iniquity. They hated Jesus because he seemed to have “removed food from their mouth” when he cleansed the temple which they had practically turned into a business centre. As Jesus continued to gain more and more popularity, they feared that they would soon lose the love and respect of the people; that is, they would soon become powerless.

Child of God, let us examine our conscience: Do I feel threatened by anyone who is doing well in life? In all sincerity, are there certain persons I secretly envy and pray for their downfall because they have become successful or are now far ahead of me? Do I kill through character assassination – bearing false tales about others just to bring them down? Perhaps, I am guilty of the fear of the Jews. Repent. Let others shine. Celebrate the greatness in each person. Be humble enough to accept the truth.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to love others as you love me. Amen.

Bible Study: Ezekiel 37:21-28, Jer. 31:10-13, John 11:45-56).

© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu

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