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God knows

Saturday, March 31, 2007

John 11:53-56
From that day on the Sanhedrin plotted to take Jesus' life.

Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead, he withdrew to a region near the desert, where he stayed with his disciples.

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing. They kept looking for Jesus.

Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, where he had been dead for days. Jesus' words of prayer to his Father had quieted storms, multiplied bread and fish, healed lepers, restored blindness, delivered men and women and children from demons ... and now for at least the second time, restored life to someone who was very, very dead.

"Believe the miracles!" he cried out. "I have come from God to restore you all to life with him. The old days are gone, the new have come."

Who wouldn't follow Jesus? I try to get into the heads of the Pharisees, the scribes, the leaders of Israel. Earlier, they said to each other, "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

They are afraid. They fear the Romans. They don't want to lose their power. They think Jesus is threatening their status quo, in spite of his commitment to peace and non-violence.

Maybe they didn't hear him say, "If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic" (Luke 6:29).

Jesus seems to know what's going to happen. For now he avoids capture, but soon in Jerusalem, at the right time, he invites it. He has spent his ministry bringing life in every form to others; now he expects to die. He knows he'll be crucified.

As the Sanhedrin debates its course and Caiaphas advocates Jesus' death, John adds parenthetically, "He did not say this on his own" (John 11:51). Is God guiding these leaders to capture and execute Jesus?

Jesus says again and again, "I only do what my Father is doing." When he prayed for Lazarus' resurrection he said, "Father, I know that you always hear me." In the coming days their intimacy will be tested. On the cross Jesus will lose his sense of his Father's presence. In that moment must have come his last temptation.

In these days before death, preparation continues. The people clamor for his presence, their leaders plot his death. The disciples seem blissfully unaware of much of anything. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, to his last supper, to the cross.

As what we call Holy Week begins tomorrow, Lord, let me walk the winding streets of Jerusalem with you and taste what you taste, smell what you smell, feel what you feel. That's a scary thing to pray, Lord. But I think it's what you want.

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