Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” (Matthew 26:3-5)
Confession: I struggle with people-pleasing. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us probably do. We prefer to be on good terms with everyone, all the time. In Matthew 26:3-5, we find that this is also true of the Pharisees who plotted against Jesus. We might be a little more like them than we care to admit.
With Mathew 26:3-5 and the events surrounding it in mind, we can think about this from two different angles.
First, the chief priests and the scribes. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention this meeting they held. They gathered together with a common goal: to put an end to Jesus’ teaching because they all felt threatened by him and his influence. So, they made these evil plans, but they didn’t want anyone to think they were bad guys; they wanted to keep the crowds happy, so they decided after the feasts would be a better time to put their plan to action because there would be less people around. In Luke, it even says, “they feared the people” (Luke 22:2). It’s ironic that these dark plans were affected by fear of man. The worst of us want others to think the best of us.
And then we see Jesus.
Jesus, as the Son of God, knew the Sanhedrin was plotting to kill Him. He knew His time was near. As a human, He knew what it felt like to be really, truly hated, so hated that He would be killed. But even that amount of hatred wouldn’t compare to the pain and loneliness He would feel when He was on the cross and cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 26:46).
Jesus knew there was a plan being devised to kill him, while knowing trying to please those who hated him wasn’t an option. Obedience to the Father was of utmost importance. He knew through their most evil act, hope would come. The veil would be torn. The self-righteousness of the plot-making Pharisees would lead to Jesus giving Himself so those who believe could put on the righteousness of the only, truly righteous one, and be reconciled to the Father.
Jesus must die. Not because the chief priests said so, because the Father did: “it was the will of the Lord to crush him” (Isaiah 53:10).
It’s true the Sanhedrin would get their way; Jesus would be arrested and killed, but only because the Father had made the same plan before the beginning of time (1 Peter 1:19-20). The Pharisees plotted out of hatred, and God out of love.
The Pharisees sought to kill Jesus because they saw Him as a threat, but they still wanted to please the crowds; Jesus sought to please the Father even though it cost him his own life.
Today, let’s take a moment to ask ourselves, who am I living to please? Am I earthly-minded like the Pharisees, living to please man and make my name great? Or am I following Christ’s example, knowing obedience to the Father matters most?