I never know how to feel about the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. On one hand, they anger me—lording their authority over the Jewish people, continually trying to trap Jesus, and ultimately hatching a plan to murder the Messiah. But on the other hand, I am so very sad for them. The Jews were waiting in earnest for the Messiah. All of their hope was that God had promised them a deliverer and when he came they missed him. They attacked him. They killed him.
But more than sadness or anger, the ignorance, deceit, and violence of the religious leaders should be a cautionary tale. These men in positions of honor would rather hold on to their power than receive their God. It should caution us, because, as Richard Rohr said, "Power never surrenders without a fight. If your entire life has been to live unquestioned in your position of power—a power that was culturally given to you, but you think you earned—there is almost no way you will give it up without major failure, suffering, humiliation, or defeat.”
And yet we should hope to recognize that there are significant moments in each of our lives where we might realize things aren't fair and that we are benefitting from the unfairness. In those moments, we have a choice—do nothing; hold on to the privilege, comfort, security, and control we have or we can receive our God. A God who "made himself nothing," on behalf of others. And a God who says, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
I want to hold on to power, control, and privilege—like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. But I don’t want to miss Jesus. And I think Jesus is saying, 'you have to pick: either hold on to your stake in the world or lose it and receive me.'