In the Lectionary

April 7, Good Friday (John 18:1-19:42)

Evil uses people’s anxieties, fears, and prejudices to twist good intentions into cruel deeds.

Caiaphas and Annas make easy cartoon villains. A family tomb containing an elaborately decorated ossuary was discovered in 1990 in the Peace Forest outside Jerusalem. The ossuary is inscribed with the name “Yehoseph bar Qayapha (Qapha).” It contained the bones of a 60-year-old male, along with a woman and four children. Could the bones belong to Caiaphas? Either way, they help him become a real person to me. A real person with a wife and children, cousins, and neighbors. He was someone’s son.

Does Caiaphas really believe that the masses will follow Jesus, which in turn will incite the Roman authorities to destroy the temple? Does he think handing Jesus over to Pilate is right or merely expedient? Can he tell the difference? Are the religious leaders who yell for Jesus’ death duplicitous when they say they believe Jesus is a threat and a criminal? Or are they saying what they think is true?

The Washington Post reported that Jake Peart was among the nearly 1,000-person mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2020. At his sentencing hearing he told the judge that “he was driven by a ‘state of desperation,’ a conviction that the presidential election had been stolen and the country he loved was falling apart.” He said, “I felt like we were at a battle, standing up for our country.”