Facing Caiaphas

Jesus breathed unfathomable power into the simplest of words, knowing that they would endure long after the High Priest had returned to dust!

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Picture the scene:  The High Priest, Caiaphas, and his cohorts have been scheming for months. All previous attempts to arrest Jesus have ended in inexplicable failure – but not this time! The circumstances could not have been better; a secret arrest in the middle of the night meant no potential for rioting masses. Even the capture went smoothly, except for that unfortunate incident with his servant. Such trivial matters were insignificant now that they had their prize! More pressing issues demand their attention, like presenting a case strong enough to persuade Pilate to execute the troublemaker and do it before the people even know what is happening. Witness after witness comes forward, and all they do is contradict one another. It is late, and tensions are high. The Galilean, who rarely avoids confrontation with them, is unusually silent. His peaceful demeanor only aggravates their exasperation. In a rage, Caiaphas stands face to face with Jesus, hoping to intimidate or at least provoke him.

“Are you not going to answer?” he explodes. “What is this testimony these men are bringing against you?”

There are countless ways that Jesus can respond, but he does not defend himself against the petty schemes of men. He stands unflinching, empowered by his unity with his Father! The High Priest takes a step closer.

“Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” he demands.

Imagine Jesus narrowing his eyes slightly as he leans forward to face his accuser, his posture revealing who is the real power and authority in the room. He could crush the man with a single breath if he chose to do so. Staring deep into the eyes of Caiaphas, he responds to the question.

 ‘I am! And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’  

Caiaphas seizes the moment with impassioned theatrics, but he cannot miss the fact that this was not the response of a broken man; these words are well-chosen and deliberately spoken. What the High Priest does miss is that his prized captive has uttered immeasurably more than a confession, a perceived blasphemy, or a threat against the fleeting kingdoms of man.

Jesus breathed unfathomable power into the simplest of words, knowing that they would endure long after the High Priest had returned to dust!

Without apology, Jesus declares both his identity and his destiny! And like Caiaphas, everyone who hears his words must respond! Unfortunately, this moment is often regarded as merely stage-setting for the crucifixion. In the re-telling of the Passion week, these words are reduced to a line in a script sandwiched between more dramatic moments. It is our loss!

In these few words, we discover not only his identity but also our own! And just as this reality provides the foundation of our faith, these words call us to live in the power that is unleashed by that truth.

His statement as a whole deserves lingering meditation. As we take our stand upon this rock, we should not miss the opportunity to consider the wonder contained within its depths. Like a stonecutter chips away at a rock in order to reveal the potential and beauty contained inside of it, we must take our chisel and do the same. We will find that each layer offers a different glimpse of the power within.

‘I am! And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’  

Let’s chip away a layer to find what lies beneath the promise of his ascension to heaven and his triumphant return to earth.

We are left with six words (in the English language – reference Mark 14:53-65).

“I AM, AND YOU WILL SEE…”

What we find is the promise of REVELATION!

There is so much in this life that is beyond our comprehension. Death and Destruction rise against us. We don’t understand why God does not intervene.  Our tormenters flex their muscles and celebrate their victories, while Doubt and Bitterness become our companions. Yet, in the face of these giants that revel in relentless tragedy, Jesus stands strong! With the conviction that enabled him to face Caiaphas and the authority that commanded the wind and waves, Jesus boldly declares to us,

“I AM, AND YOU WILL SEE…”

Then, with the love and devotion that a bridegroom feels toward his beloved bride, he whispers, “Don’t let your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in me.”

Perhaps that is why Paul included this hope of “knowing fully” in his description of pure love in 1 Corinthians 13.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  (v. 12)

Our human minds and earthly limitations prevent us from understanding the ways of God. We must place our trust in the one who sees all of human history, and loves us still!

We may only “know in part,” but there is still much to discover. Our chisel continues to work against the stone, leaving five words:

“I AM, AND YOU WILL…”

Within those five words, we find the promise of PURPOSE!

Just as Jesus equips us to stand against the giants that cause us to question him, he does the same with those that cause us to doubt ourselves. With these words, we can overcome the poison arrows targeting our ability to accept our value and purpose within the Kingdom. He stands in opposition to giants like Shame and Insecurity, exposing their lies. He declares that he has a plan for his children, and he will equip them to rise and fulfill his purposes!

He then turns to us, gently healing the damage inflicted by such gross misrepresentations of who we are. The value he places upon us is expressed in the simplest of words, “I know the plans I have for you.”

As we pursue him, this rock again commands our attention. There are more treasures to be found within its depths. As continue our search, a new promise is revealed, contained within four simple words.

“I AM AND YOU!”

Those who search the depths of his words find the promise of RELATIONSHIP!

Walking with Jesus is not easy. The giants are real, the road is perilous, and friends fail us. It is easy to collapse in despair, convinced we are utterly alone. Cynicism and Hostility cast dark shadows in our minds.  In the emptiness, Jesus reaches out to us, repeating his vow, “I will never leave you!” As we grow in oneness with Him, we begin to reflect his heart of humility and forgiveness.

Not admitting defeat, the giants change their tactics. Our world changes and colors return. Shimmering mirages pull us in one direction and then another. Invitations to taste and explore abound. “Come away with us,” they whisper. Although we have disregarded his voice, Jesus faces giants such as Willfulness, Lust, and their many companions. Destroying their strongholds, he restores us to himself. When we open our ears, we hear the passionate promise:

“I AM and You.”

Even if we are unfaithful, he remains devoted to his beloved. He places the chisel back into our hands and encourages us to keep turning this rock over. As we continue to discover the wonder of relationship with him, he is eager for us to uncover the treasure contained in three simple words:

I AM, AND…

If we continue to search, we gain a gift we desperately need – VISION!

There is a reason he places the chisel back into our hands. He knows us – every doubt, every desire, every weakness. Even with his precious promises and intimate presence, there will be times when we feel like giving up. Giants such as Defeat and Apathy take up positions against us, attempting to narrow our field of vision to a moment and place in time.

In English grammar, the word “And” is a “conjunction,” which means it joins two words or phrases and establishes their relationship. In Jesus’ statement, it links his identity with his destiny. On one side of the bridge is I AM in human flesh, and on the other is the “Son of Man” on a heavenly throne. Satan knew that if he could obscure the view on the other side of that “and,” the cross would never be needed. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he sent several giants to accomplish his purposes, each one in partnership with an agent of Earthly Wisdom:

  • Greed and Success came offering wealth and power (the temptation in the Wilderness).
  • Fame and Humanity encouraged adoring crowds to crown him the righteous King who would overthrow the evil empire of Rome.
  • Self-Preservation and Good Intentions spoke through his close friends (Peter declaring “This shall never happen to you!”)
  • Pride and Obligation continually reminded him how much the crowds needed him here (“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd…”)

Our enemy works to blind our spiritual eyes to the glorious future that awaits us, thus destroying our desire to persevere. The writer of the book of Hebrews beautifully describes Jesus overcoming such attacks:

“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Hidden within Jesus’ words is a reminder that wherever we are in life, the story never ends with “and”; there is always more to come. And we have many promises giving us just a glimpse of what awaits on the other side.

What we find is the heart of Jesus’ statement:

I AM!

There is greater depth here than we can ever begin to explore or understand. Yet, he extends an invitation to experience the wonder of discovery:

This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:2-3

When we arrive at this point, all we can do is drop our chisel, fall before him, and cry “Holy!”

This is the reason Jesus faced Caiaphas that day. Because he stood strong in his identity, we can now enter into the Father’s presence, as restored children of the Great I AM! Because we have heavenly resources, earthly giants and their once-formidable weapons amount to nothing more than fleeting illusions! This is the other side of the bridge – the joy set before him – and he packed all of that truth into a single statement.

“I am! And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 

 

Featured Image by Dave Herring on Unsplash

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Writer for the King