St. Edmund's Church, Crickhowell

Encounters with Jesus -




After Jesus' arrest on Maundy Thursday, Mark tells us he was taken before the high priest and the Sanhedrin (council of religious leaders). What happened there was not so much a trial as an enquiry, which would thus lead to the next step - being taken before the Roman authorities (Pilate).


Some would see Caiaphas as having been in 'the wrong place at the wrong time'. Have you ever had a similar experience?


Read Mark 14:53-65.

The Temple

To help us understand why any saying about the Temple (v.56-57) would cause such strong reactions, we need to realise that Jerusalem at that time was ".. the centre of a worldwide religion ... the hub of a complex religious system which drew pilgrims ... especially for the Passover, numbering about 125,000." The city was seen by these pilgrims as 'the holy dwelling place of God', with the Temple as the very heart of this holy presence.

  1. One consequence of the holiness of the Temple, and the many pilgrims it drew, was -as with modem tourism - the emergence of the profit motive. Extortionate rates of interest were charged on the exchange of money required for the paying of the Temple dues. As Stuart Blanch says, "The Temple itself became a source of profit to those, the high priest and others, who controlled it." Do all man-made structures, religious or otherwise, of necessity suffer from the truth of the old adage that 'power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'? How far should we expect this to happen in our own present day church structures ?
  2. It is John (in 2:19-22), rather than Mark, who explains what Jesus actually said, and indeed meant, here. John 2:21 says that Jesus 'spoke of the temple of his body'; Paul took up this idea and applied it to us as believers - I Cor.6:19, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you ... ?" In what ways should this teaching affect our daily lives as Christians ?


In the hundred years up to 70AD there were 28 High Priests. Caiaphas managed to hold on to the post for 18 years, due partly to status (Annas, his father-in-law, was a former High Priest and a very influential figure) and partly to political acumen.

  1. Stuart Blanch tells us that the High Priests "were installed and removed at will by their overlords and were by the time of Jesus entirely dependent on the goodwill and support of the procurator." This inevitably led to 'compromises and subterfuges'; can Church and State work together in ways that are positive and helpful, or will the latter always hold undue influence over the former ?
  2. It is John, and not Mark, who tells us that Caiaphas 'had given counsel to the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people'. There are two ways of looking at this statement -
    1. Was this a prophetic statement, and, if so, can the Holy Spirit speak through anyone, even enemies of Jesus ?
    2. Was Caiaphas applying a purely political and pragmatic approach to what he saw as a problem that had to be solved, and, if so, do the ends always justify the means (as Caiaphas thought they did)?
  3. "Of Judas Jesus said: 'It were better for him that he had never been bom.'. Of Caiaphas he might better have said it would have been better for him if he had never been made high priest to bear the awesome responsibility of this particular day and to stand condemned for ever at the bar of history. We must not be too hard on Caiaphas. Many a 'high priest' in the history of Christendom has succumbed to the temptation and pressures of his office, thereby 'crucifying the Son of God afresh'." Do you agree with Stuart Blanch's assessment and, if so, how should this affect our relationships with our own church 'hierarchy'?


Thank God for those called to responsibility and leadership in the church. Pray for the Spirit's help so that they - and we - may always remember that to minister means to serve (read Mark 10:43-45).



8/10   BL   Last updated 22.11.2004