March 31 – Wednesday of Passion Week

Matthew 26:3-5 – Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, [4] and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. [5] But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

Mark 14:1-2 – It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, [2] for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”

Luke 22:1-2 – Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. [2] And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.

We are not told a great deal about the things that happened on Wednesday of Passion Week. Luke tells us that Jesus kept on teaching in the temple and people kept coming to hear Him. This at least means that people from the crowd that had greeted him so gloriously on Sunday are still enthralled with Him and want to hear Him. Mark, Matthew and Luke tell us that the Pharisees want to arrest him and kill Him but do not want to do it during Passover and Unleavened Bread for fear that the people will turn on them because of Jesus’ popularity.

We should not lose sight of the fact that it is the religious leaders, the scholars of the Scriptures, those well versed in the Law, who are plotting to kill Jesus. It is they who bribe people before Pilate to scream for Jesus’ crucifixion.

This is what we see in the Old Testament as well. It is the prophets and judges and kings of Israel throughout its history who lead the nation into idolatry and immorality. It is the priests in the Old Testament who are particularly taken to task for leading the people of Israel into the sins that bring the judgement of God. The Book of Malachi is the most tragic of all the prophets. The priests have sinned against God and they do not know it. They have believed their own lies so much that they cannot even tell the difference between what they teach and what God has called for.

The tendency for the leadership to lead into apostasy has not ended. One can trace the downfall of whole denominations to what gets taught in its seminaries. The challenge to the truthfulness of the Bible, the historicity of Jesus, His deity and real humanity, miracles, the doctrines associated with salvation – propitiation, penal substitution, the resurrection of Jesus regeneration, justification, and more, do not start at the home hearth where the Bible is read for devotions. Not at all.

They start in the halls of learning where they are imbibed by eager students who become pastors and pass on the viruses they caught in school to their unsuspecting flocks. At some point down the line someone will conclude that an understanding of the historic Christian faith as taught in the Bible is for ignorant and unlearned people and that those with brains of course do not believe such tripe.

And this is just the thing that the Bible said would happen. People profess to be wise but are fools (Romans 1:22). They have a wisdom that the world can give but are absent of the wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:18-25). They long to be teachers but do not understand what they are called to teach (I Timothy 1:6-7). They gather around themselves people with itching ears and gladly deliver the pap that makes people feel good about themselves (II Timothy 4:3).

If the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had studied the Scriptures to compare what Jesus said and did, they would have seen Him to be who He said He was. But they were not interested in truth. They were interested in their own advancement. And just like the priests of old and the “Christian” leaders of the future, they were able to convince their people that what they believed and did was right all along. By Friday they are able to bribe the crowd they are afraid of on Wednesday, to scream for Jesus’ death. This no doubt happened faster than they had hoped, but the pattern is the same. The unbelief of the leadership will influence many of those they are leading.

The present day church needs to maintain a Berean spirit

Acts 17:11 – Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

The Christian in the pew needs to heed the words of Paul to the Colossians as much as any church leader does:

Col. 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

And all Christian leaders need to hear loud and clear what Paul says to Timothy

1 Tim. 6:20 – O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge, for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.”

Jesus was handed over to the authorities because of the sinful unwillingness of the leaders and their followers to accept a view of Jesus that interfered with their own ideas of what the Messiah should be and do. It is a sin that is still being committed. Don’t fall into it yourself and don’t be fooled by it when you run into it.

Keep yourself from idols.