One cross is better than a thousand.

Mark 14:53-65   

“But he remained silent and made no answer.” v. 61

“Let’s get this over with.”,  Caiaphas roared himself and the council awake. He hated these late night trials with a passion. But time was of the essence with Passover fast approaching. News of this Nazarene’s rebellion had kept the High Priest awake many a night, so he was pleased to have finally apprehended him, especially before the feast day. “The last thing we need is a false prophet running around at the most holy time of the year.”  The only thing he despised more than the filthy Romans was rabble rousers like this Yeshua, who threatened, not only the spiritual well being of Israel, but also her political stability. Rome doesn’t take too kindly to rival kings. “I’ve seen too many crosses along the highway, to let some misguided mystic start another rebellion. One cross is better than a thousand.”

One by one the witnesses came bearing testimony.

“I heard him say he wanted to destroy the Temple.”

“Well, I heard him say he was going to build a new temple in three days….”

“Or was it seven?”

“He told us to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Roman soldiers, or something like that.”

It wasn’t long before Caiaphas weary mind was unable to keep all the accusations together. Trying to sort out truth from innuendo this late at night was like trying to catch the evening rain in a fishing net. His vision, weak enough as it was, began to falter amidst the dance of flickering lamps and shadows across centuries old tapestries. The smell of incense fought in vain against the stench of councilmen and soldiers encircling the accused, eyes burning like hot coals into innocent lambs flesh. And there stood Yeshua, in the center. He was strikingly calm for a man facing death. He seemed impervious to the barrage of piercing accusations raining upon him. How could he be so silent? He had to know he was going to die! One cross is better than a thousand.

When the last accuser completed his clearly contrived testimony, the council members sat there, a bit baffled about what to do next. They all seemed to be shaking their nets along with Caiaphas, who sat there rubbing swollen eyes and massaging a throbbing forehead. He could feel a new furrow forming as he awaited any further testimony. For a moment he allowed the silence to linger while he marveled at the man who stood before him, bound in chains, but freer than anyone in the room.

Yeshua stood for the longest time averting his gaze to the floor, then to the ceiling, then around the room. But still he said nothing. No defense was made against the flimsy testimonies. No pleas for mercy, or claim to innocence, nothing but silence. After a moment of stillness and quiet confusion, all eyes in the room, except for Yeshua, turned to Caiaphas, whose weary eyes widened like a deer caught in the headlights. Straightening his robe and clearing his throat he asked Yeshua to speak.

“What do you have to say about these accusations?”

Silence continued to loiter like an unwanted guest, so the High Priest pierced deeply into the heart of the matter.

“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” This question was the fuse, that once lit, set off the explosion that changed a covert trial into a virtual riot.

Until now, Yeshua had not made eye contact with Caiaphas. After a brief uncomfortable silence, the accused deliberately raised his battered head until his gazed was locked onto his interrogator. Piercing black eyes riveted the fatigued priest into the back of his chair. For a moment Caiaphas felt that he himself was the one on trial, and Yeshua was the High Priest. The accused spoke with stunning regal force. “I am…”

At this Caiaphas felt himself wither away like a leaf in a storm. He could barely keep from falling to the floor. What followed next crashed upon him like the red sea upon ancient Pharaoh’s army.

” and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

The short fuse incinerated. The room exploded.

The tearing of cloth. A scream for justice. The sound of fists crashing into Yeshua’s face.

Foreboding blood spatter sprinkling angry men.

An hour passed before the room cleared and Yeshua was dragged off toward his death.

Caiaphas sat there alone, staring at blood washed tapestries, and listening to the echo of Yeshua’s claim. He had tried and executed many false prophets in his years as High Priest. But this time something shook him. No matter how hard he tried to justify the means with the end, he couldn’t quite escape the queasy feeling that Yeshua wasn’t the one on trial here. Hours later, he lay awake in his bed, repeatedly muttering neurotically to himself, “Better for one man to die than everyone else, right? One cross is better than a thousand…right?”

 

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