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Joseph Caiaphus: The Ultimate Spin Doctor

Part 1: Growing Up Caiaphas – Today we begin our study series, “The Shadows of the Passion.” During the next 5 months, we will get to know five of the key players in the Passion story from a more humanistic and personal perspective: Joseph Caiaphas, Pontius Pilate,

Peter, Mary Magdalene, and Judas Iscariot. We will get to know them as people, not just Biblical figures working as supporting actors on the great stage of human salvation. We will examine things like how they lived, the external forces at work in their lives and how they reacted to them, their goals and ambitions, and the political and religious climate with which they had to deal—all against the backdrop of Christ’s ministry as reported in the Gospels. Most of this discussion will be completely factual, while some will be borne of speculation based upon fact and the common nature of humanity. I chose to begin with the High Priest Joseph Caiaphas because through a discussion of who he was, and his role in the Passion of Christ, we will be able to explore the cultural, political and religious forces at work in the lives of all five of these very interesting people. Obviously, these were the very same forces that enabled the completion of God’s will to establish a path for the salvation of man through the blood of Jesus. In Part 1 of what I’m calling “Caiaphus the Ultimate Spin Doctor,” we’ll look at what it must have been like growing up and coming into the powerful priestly family of Annas, as well as his ascension to, and the responsibilities of, the position of High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple. In Part 2, we’ll examine the political climate of 1st Century Judea and the demands it placed upon him as High Priest. Part 3 will enable us to better understand the religious perspectives of the Jewish community and how these forces drove Caiaphas’ personal and public lives. Finally, Part 4 will highlight Caiaphas as the Ultimate Spin Doctor who, unknowingly, became God’s primary catalyst in establishing a religion that will stretch into eternity.

So who was this Joseph Caiaphas anyway? Not much is known specifically about him prior to his involvement with Jesus, but we do know quite a bit about how things worked in that period. Since he married a daughter of one of the most influential High Priests, Annas, he must have come from a wealthy or aristocratic family. At that time, in that place, the classes never mixed. Furthermore, he was either a Sadducee or a Sadducean sympathizer, since that was the normal condition for the upper class in Judea. According to Josephus, Caiaphas’ father Felix was a very prolific writer but was better known as “the brother of Pallus.” Pallus was the treasurer for and very close friend of Tiberius. His mother, Rachel, was a Samaritan. His brother Simon Magus was married to Zacchaeus’ wife’s sister and their son was none other than Judas Iscariot. Simon was also Peter’s sworn enemy in Rome. We do know that as a child, according to custom, Caiaphas was first schooled in the home by his father. Gradually he would transition to a learned priest who, with his father’s participation and oversight, would begin the lifelong process of learning Torah and the Oral Law. Now I know what you’re thinking—the Sadducees only believed in the Torah itself and discounted the Oral Law. However, they ruled the religious arena, if you will, only with the support of the much more popular Pharisees who did believe in the learning and application of the Oral Law. It would be logical to assume that Caiaphas proved to be a good student, because later in life he would become a Therapeutae—a clergyman physician—prior to being appointed to serve along side his future father-in-law, Annas. Serve alongside Annas you say? Yes, a point well-documented and yet another clue to the background of the man called Caiaphas. Because of this we know Caiaphas must have come from the port city of Haifa. You see, from the time of Pharoah until the appointment of Caiaphas, priests could not come from Haifa because the people there did not clearly distinguish or pronounce certain vowels and consonant combinations. As the story goes, Pharoah gave a Haifan scribe an order to have all males “censused” or counted. The scribe, with his ethnic speech problem, sent out an order to have all males “castrated,” the two words having similar roots, being distinguished only by certain linguistic dots and dashes. In addition to being barred from the priesthood, I can think of a few more occupations in which I wouldn’t want them to serve. Regardless, Caiaphas distinguished himself sufficiently that he attracted and married a daughter of the powerful Annas who, if you remember, was the first high Jewish official to question Jesus after his arrest at Gethsemane. Proof of this family relationship is found in John 18:13: “And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.” Annas (High Priest from 6-15 AD) was as wealthy as he was powerful and his family ruled the priesthood for most of the 1st century AD. His family, under Herod the Great, was allowed to use the treasury of the Jerusalem Temple to make money and had the authority to declare sacrificial lambs unfit for ritual. Of course, it just so happened, that the family also had a business in which they raised “perfect” lambs, which were readily available, for a hefty price, to replace those they had declared unfit. You get the picture, now back to the story. According to Josephus, Annas had five sons who served in the position of High Priest. Since the Annas priestly clan had obviously found favor with their Roman conquerors, Caiaphas benefited and was appointed High Priest in 18 AD by the Roman Governor Valerius Gratus and was consequently retained by Pontius Pilate—with whom he enjoyed a well-oiled 10-year tenure. However, since the prohibition concerning Haifans still existed (and I assume lots of men remembered the story of the “census versus castration” tale) Caiaphas served in conjunction with Annas.

So why was it such a big deal to be the High Priest? Well, in a word, power. The High Priest was the chief religious authority and had several important duties. He controlled the Temple treasury, managed the Temple Police and other personnel, supervised the conduct of ritual and was responsible for the enforcement of all 613 Mosaic Laws. The latter a real challenge, because as we see Jesus say in James 2:10: “For whosoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles at just one part, is guilty of breaking it all.” Most importantly, however, the High Priest was the only one permitted to enter the Holy of Holies on the eve of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which was the holiest day of the year for the Jews. It was considered thus because on this day the High Priest, dressed in the finest pure white linen, interceded for his people’s salvation for the coming year. The High Priest was also the President of the Sanhedrin—the “beth din haggadol” or “the Great Court of Justice.” This is a body, presumably the Council of Elders that was repeatedly mentioned under both Antiochus the Great and under the Hasmoneans. We see the earliest Biblical mention of this specific body in 2 Chronicles 19:8: “Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem.” Since that time, the Sanhedrin had been the highest judicial body in the land and it controlled all Jewish internal affairs, both sacred and secular. You can almost equate it with our own Supreme Court, without the proviso of church and state separation. It was made up of 70 chief priests, who were usually recruited from the family of the High Priest.

Virtually all were Sadducees and this is probably the court before which Jesus appeared. John 11:47-48 sheds some light on how these people thought: “Then gathered the chief priest and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” The “Jesus Problem” was obviously both a huge legal and a huge political concern for these Jewish leaders, which could have serious and long-lasting effects on the nation as a whole if not handled properly and expeditiously. We will pursue this in more depth in subsequent weeks, but for now the point taken is that the Sanhedrin was not only a powerful body but it had a regimen for dealing with threats to its people—and Caiaphas, as its 71st member, was its leader. Can you imagine what it must have been like for him to have that much power, that much responsibility, and yet be bound by conscience and morality? If nothing else, he knew that whatever he did he would have to answer to God. And the specter of having to be perfectly sinless when entering the Holy of Holies, under penalty of immediate death, must have entered his mind regularly. Then there were all of the political issues involving the Romans and their conflicts with Jewish groups like the Zealots. In this arena conscience and morality didn’t carry the weight it did on the religious side of the ledger. However, these pressures had to have been intense because one slip here, especially with Pilate, could mean yet another period of exile and slavery, or even death on a very large scale—something all too fresh in the minds of the Jews. Sometimes it isn’t good to be the boss. As we know today, we are often held responsible for the actions of our subordinates even though we had virtually no control over those actions. Fortunately for us, these issues seldom result in dire circumstances or death for large numbers of people. Unfortunately for Caiaphus, dire circumstances and death were the norm in many of the issues of his day. His was definitely a what-have-you –done-for-me-lately kind of world. This discussion leads us directly to the other major role played by the High Priest—that of the formal liaison between the Romans and the Jewish populace.

It seems that this liaison or ambassador role was very controversial in 1st century Jerusalem. As we saw earlier, the High Priests were virtually always from the Sadducean aristocracy and they were appointed by, and served at the pleasure of, the Roman authority. This, however, wasn’t the bone of contention. The problem was that Rome looked to the High Priest and the Sanhedrin to keep the Jewish populace in line. A daunting challenge in an era marked with radical fringe groups, and some mainliners, who would like nothing more than to send every Roman in Judea back to Rome in a body bag. You must appreciate that even though these were a deeply religious people, they were fiercely nationalistic and were smarting from centuries of slavery and abuse. Because of this, there existed kind of a love-hate relationship between the everyday Jew and the High Priests. As the highest religious authority, they were regarded with respect as a result of the role they played in feeding and maintaining the relationship they enjoyed with the One True God. On the other hand, however, many Jews were highly suspicious and resentful of the close working relationship the High Priests had with the Roman Prefects. The average working man saw a very privileged, wealthy, well-fed man whose family lived in the wealthiest suburbs of the city. The suspicions were that they must be getting bribes or engaging in some other forms of corruption. Whether this is true or not, who knows? The political reality was that if they didn’t work well with the Roman authorities, they would be replaced or worse.

Bearing up under unbelievable pressures from all quarters, especially during Jesus’ ministry, Joseph Caiaphus had one of the longest tenures of any High Priest. He was the pillar of the Jewish community and worked amazingly well with two Roman Prefects during an almost impossible time in Jewish history. The bottom line here, though, is that Caiaphus, a son of an aristocratic and wealth family from Haifa with ties to the Roman hierarchy, High Priest of the Temple of Jerusalem, President of the Sanhedrin, political liaison to the Jews’ Roman oppressors, son-in-law to Annas, a major player in the Passion of Christ as God’s catalyst, and a devoutly religious man was, in fact, just a man. But, he was a man who was imprinted on the canvas of Biblical history as one of the lynchpins of the greatest theological event in the history of mankind. Next week, we will explore the nature and impact of the political climate within which he had to function.

Part 2: The Boots of Oppression

As the story goes, a doctor, an engineer and a politician were arguing which of their professions was the oldest. The doctor said, “Of course medicine is the oldest. Mankind has always had a physician, and they are even mentioned in the Bible.” “That’s nothing “said the engineer, “The Bible tells how the world was created out of chaos, and how could there be any order brought out of chaos without an engineer?” “Wait a minute,” said the politician. “Who do you think created the chaos in the first place?”
Last week we discussed Joseph Caiaphas the man and the things which made him what he was. Joseph Caiaphus had one of the longest tenures of any High Priest. He was the pillar of the Jewish community and worked amazingly well with two Roman Prefects during an almost impossible time in Jewish history. He was one of two sons of an aristocratic and wealth family from Haifa that had ties to the Roman hierarchy. He was High Priest of the Temple of Jerusalem, President of the Sanhedrin, political liaison to the Jews’ Roman oppressors, son-in-law to Annas who was still a very influential former High Priest, a major player in the Passion of Christ as God’s catalyst, and a devoutly religious man, who was in fact, just a man. And, he was a man who was imprinted on the canvas of Biblical history as one of the lynchpins of the greatest theological event in the history of mankind—the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God. But in the process of becoming famous, he created a level of chaos of which any self-respecting politician would be proud.

In and amongst all of these things, the most difficult tightrope Caiaphas had to walk was the intricate balancing act demanded by the political arena. As we should all know, Christianity began about 2,000 years ago, around the beginning of the first century AD, in a far-flung outpost of the powerful Roman Empire of Augustus Caesar. This empire, stretching from Gaul in the northwest to Palestine in the southeast, was conquered by Rome’s mighty Legions and its powerful fleet of warships. During our time of interest, Egypt and Judea were the two most recent Roman conquests with the latter being a bloody hot bed of dissidence and unrest. It was into this cauldron of political and religious turmoil that our Lord was born, lived, died, and was resurrected. In order to truly understand Caiaphas’ dilemma, we will need to discuss the political and religious climates which existed at the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry. We must examine both, because they were so inexorably intertwined that when one twitched the other moved. And to truly understand the time, we must truly understand both. To do so, this week we will first examine the political power structure including the conquest of Judea by Rome, the natures of (and the working relationship between) the two prominent political leaders: Pontius Pilate, the Roman Prefect of Judea (26-36AD), and Joseph Caiaphas, the High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple (18-36 AD) and President of the Sanhedrin (which was the governing Jewish political and legal body). Next week, I will discuss the four major sects of Judaism as they existed then and the problems they caused as a reaction to the Son of Man.

“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.” Luke 2:1. By the time Jesus was born, Rome had stabilized more than 100 years of internal conflict between powerful aristocratic and priestly families, and warring military organizations. In the process, Octavian (Julius Caesar’s nephew) was given the title Augustus Caesar and the authority to rule over Rome and its empire. He was harsh with some of the conquered provinces and more lenient with others, but they all owed tribute to Rome in the form of monetary taxes, grain, and other resources vital to maintaining Rome’s power. While some weren’t too concerned about these tributes, the Jews of the old kingdom of Judah were not happy campers. And when they were ordered to leave their homes to comply with the census order, it struck a very ugly chord. Imagine how you’d feel if you had to walk from Albuquerque to Dallas to comply with a census order.

The Jews had returned to Judea (the Roman name for Judah) in 538 BC from their Babylonian exile. While during that time they enjoyed brief periods of autonomy, for the most part they had been subjected to harsh rule by foreign powers. This was no more clearly seen than in the subjugation of the Jews by the Macedonian Seleucids—a cruel, sadistic culture, which pushed the Jews to the limits of their ability to retain their cultural identity in the Diaspora. At any rate, the Romans eventually “acquired” Judea through a rather lengthy process begun by forcibly settling a dispute between two factions of a Jewish ruling family. It was the same old story heard ‘round the known world–Veni, Vidi, Vici: I came, I saw, I conquered. These long years of subjugation and persecution had caused most Jews to become violently nationalistic. This, coupled with their traditionally fierce monotheism, provided a breeding ground for virtually uncontrollable organizations like the Zealots to cause havoc and mayhem—exactly what Caiaphas and Pilate did not need, and Pilate relied upon Caiaphas to control his people. And Caiaphas had a fairly effective group of priestly enforcers to do just that. Actually, they were a pretty violent lot who were not above arranging assassinations, robberies, insurrections and other such acts—especially if it somehow garnered them a political advantage. Although there is little in the way of hard evidence or documentation, historians believe that Caiaphas and Pilate had an excellent working relationship during their 10-year concurrent rule. So one way or another, it fell to these two representatives of the major political entities in the region to find a way to prevent this unbridled nationalism from becoming the ultimate instrument of the Jewish demise in the Holy Land. Amazingly, Caiaphus didn’t realize that no amount of social unrest could derail Zecharia’s prophesy when he said:

And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.” (Zech 12:10)

It should come as no great surprise that the Roman Prefect was a rather cruel, corrupt and devious man who had little regard for Jewish sensibilities. He tolerated Jewish custom and worship because it was Caesar’s wish. As the Prefect, Pilate commanded local military units, authorized construction projects, collected taxes and tributes, sat in judgment over civil and criminal cases, and had the ultimate power of life and death, outside of the religious protocol of the Jews. The historian Philo, writing in 41 AD, said, “Pilate’s 10-year tenure as Prefect was characterized by briberies, insults, robberies, outrages, wanton injustices, constantly repeated executions without trial, and ceaseless and grievous cruelty.” During his first year as Prefect, he was humiliated by a large group of Jews. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, “Pilate’s decision to bring into the holy city of Jerusalem, by night and under cover, effigies of Caesar outraged Jews who considered the images idolatrous.” When confronted by this rather dedicated and angry mob, he backed down after threatening to kill all of them. Therefore, only a relatively small number of people perished. Philo confirmed this when he wrote about the Jewish petition to remove these effigies:

But when he steadfastly refused this petition, they cried out: “Do not cause a sedition; do not make war upon us; do not destroy the peace which exists. The honour of the emperor is not identical with dishonour to the ancient laws; let it not be to you a pretence for heaping insult on our nation. Tiberius is not desirous that any of our laws or customs shall be destroyed. And if you yourself say that he is, show us either some command from him, or some letter, or something of the kind, that we, who have been sent to you as ambassadors, may cease to trouble you, and may address our supplication to your master.” But this last sentence exasperated him in the greatest possible degree, as he feared least they might in reality go on an embassy to the emperor and impeach him.

Given all of this, it is easy to see why Pilate was so gun shy when the situation with Jesus being brought to him to be put to death unfolded. He was all too familiar with what happened when Jewish Messianic wannabes got the population riled up. He was very aware of the tenuous nature of his position from a political perspective. Caesar had warned him that he would not suffer any more unrest. So, what was he to do when they appeared at his door?

Pilate then went out to them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?” They answered and said unto him; If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. (Jn 18:29-31)

It’s very interesting to see both sides of this dialogue. My attorney always likes to tell me that to read perceptively you have to read interlineally, that is between the lines. And a lot of that between the lines stuff is going on here. Pilate knew exactly what was going on. He not only knew Roman law, he also knew Jewish law and he didn’t want to get involved. Perhaps what he was really asking was, “Why are you guys doing this to me? You know I am not going to intervene in internal Jewish matters. I’m still licking my wounds from my last experience with one of your Messiahs and I want to sit this one out.” And, what the Jews were asking for here is for Pilate to make this a civil, political matter so that Jesus could be dealt with officially by Rome and the blood would not be on their hands. Or, better said, the blood would be on Roman hands—a horse of a different color. But to do this, they had to make this a regional, political, Roman issue that would come back to bite Pilate if he didn’t take steps to stop Jesus now. Unfortunately for them, they hadn’t made that case yet and Pilate was trying to distance himself from this situation. Unfortunately for Pilate, in matters concerning the cross there can be no neutrality. As we will soon see, he (and the Jews for that matter) would be forced to make a decision. According to Luke 23:2-3: “And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King. And Pilate asked him, saying; Art thou the King of the Jews? And He answered him and said, Thou sayest it.” Isn’t it sad the lengths people will go to in order to get their way? The High Priest and his minions had to prove that Jesus was a revolutionary who was bent on causing civil unrest and so they fabricated these lies. We know from Luke 20:25 that Jesus said “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s…” But Caiaphas didn’t last for 19 years as High Priest without possessing some finely honed political skills. His charges are very clever and very well thought out, because he hits Pilate where Pilate is the most sensitive. As Prefect, one of Pilate’s major political responsibilities is collecting taxes. To allow anything to interfere with this would be tantamount to treason. And it would bring into question Pilate’s personal loyalty to Caesar. Not a good thing when your bacon is already half in the fire. So, at this point, Pilate quits backpedaling and charges full speed ahead. “Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?”(Jn 19:33-34) Once again, Pilate’s primary concern is with Jesus’ political position. He was all too familiar with the Messianic prophesy and that it entailed finding a great leader who would defeat the Romans and deliver the Jews from oppression. And, after all, isn’t that what the crowd on Palm Sunday was proclaiming Jesus to be? Then there’s the issue of Jesus’ response to this twice-stated question of Pilate’s. Isn’t Jesus really admonishing Pilate to consider who the real enemies of Caesar are? Had Jesus done anything to damage the political status quo, or was that solely in danger as a result of the fallout from the Jews’ reaction to the Lord’s preaching? Pilate’s answer to Jesus’ question is interesting as well. “Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?”(Jn 18:35) I think Pilate was a bit miffed at this point. He sounds like he’s saying, “What, you think I’m in this thing plotting against you too? Frankly, Scarlet, I don’t give a darn (paraphrasing loosely from Gone With the Wind) why your own people, who should be protecting you by the way, are trying so desperately trying to turn you over to me for execution. I’ve known Caiaphas for a long time and if he’s going to these lengths, you must have done something.” And then to cap off this little sparing session comes one of the great statements of all time. “Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world.”(Jn 18:36) How awesome is that? And yet how sad it is that these people, Jews and Romans alike, can’t realize that Jesus wasn’t out to control their pathetic little patch of dirt? His kingdom concerns itself with the condition of our hearts. And His concern was, is, and always will be in establishing God’s reign over our hearts now and forever, so that we might be saved unto eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

His constant conflict with his Jewish subjects, and the extreme cruelty he exhibited in quelling the 32 major riots occurring during his watch, later became the crux of his undoing. The Syrian Governor, Vitellius, removed Pilate from office in 36 AD and, after returning to Rome to face charges of excessive cruelty, Pilate was exiled to France. His Jewish counterpart fared little better.

As we saw last week, Caiaphas was also a man of importance and political power. According to Biblical accounts, he was the son-in-law of Annas (High Priest from 6-15 AD) whose family controlled the High Priesthood for most of the 1st Century. He controlled the Temple treasury, managed the Temple staff, performed religious rituals, served as the President of the Sanhedrin, and also served as the Jewish liaison to Pilate. As the President of the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas was the political, judicial, and administrative leader of his people. The name “Sanhedrin” comes from the Greek word “sunedrion” which means “sitting together” or “council.” Its 71 members included the movers and shakers in the Jewish community—members of the High Priest’s family, scribes and lay elders. One of the requirements for being a member of the Sanhedrin was having received Semicha, a very special ordination involving the laying on of hands. According to the Hebrew Bible, Moses ordained Joshua through Semicha.:
And Moses did as the LORD commanded him: and he took Joshua, and set him before Eleazar the priest, and before all the congregation: And he laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses. (Num 27:22-23).

Moses also ordained the 70 elders. The elders later ordained their successors in this way. Their successors in turn ordained others. After the destruction of the Second Temple and the scattering of much of the Jewish people into the Diaspora, the direct chain from Moses onward was broken. The Sanhedrin membership was highly selective because the organization had responsibilities that gave it immense political and religious power. It could try the king, extend the boundaries of the Temple and Jerusalem, and it was the final authority on interpretations of the Law. And this was where Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin interfaced with the vignette of Jesus’ ministry, which we will examine much more closely in week four of this series when we examine Caiaphas’ role as the Ultimate Spin Doctor. However, for this week, let’s end by simply saying that many Jews suspected that because of the High Priests’ close ties to the Roman Prefects, they received “perks” not available to the general populace—possible even at the expense of the general populace. Eventually, that seemed to seal Caiaphas’ fate. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Caiaphas was removed as High Priest by Vitellius in 36 AD at the same time Pilate was removed as Prefect, supposedly for, “…growing unhappiness with their close cooperation and Caiaphas’ heartlessness when sitting in judgment.”

While Pilate and Caiaphas wielded great political power, and thus from an earthly perspective rid themselves of Jesus, it was really the religious climate of the time that facilitated and permitted the political solution to their dilemma over Jesus Christ. Next week we will examine this religious climate in our quest to understand this man named Joseph Caiaphas.

Part 3: A Jew by Any Other Name

Unfortunately we Baptist have a good understanding of the religious turmoil that existed in 1st century Judea. Southern Baptists criticize other Baptist, Catholics, Calvinists, Presbyterians, and other various Protestant flavors of Christianity, not to mention Mormons and their ilk, on theological issues, and Independent Fundamentalist Baptists criticize everybody—and do so vehemently. It seems that no matter how hard we try to get our theological act together, we seem to be drifting further and further apart. When we look at this phenomenon, we see that disagreements fall generally into three categories of doctrinal issues: First, second and third order issues. First order issues include those which are the core of the Christian faith: The concept of the Trinity, the deity and humanity of Christ, justification by faith, salvation by grace, and the authenticity and authority of the scriptures. You cannot be a Christian and not believe the established church doctrine in these areas. And, predictably, we don’t see much serious debate on the first order ideology. It’s generally the second and third order items that give us a reason to reach for the Tums. Amazingly, because of these inherently debatable issues, we often find ourselves on opposite sides of a “great gulf fixed,” when perhaps some Christian gentleness and understanding might be a better approach to sway our adversary’s belief system. Second order issues involve things like the meaning, mode and requirements of Baptism. Presbyterians, among others, don’t hold to the same baptismal regimen as Southern Baptists. In certain Christian circles, Methodist for example, it is acceptable to ordain women. Obviously they read the requirements in 1 Timothy 3 differently than we do. Of even less fist-clenching consequence, are the third order issues such as eschatological timetables and sequence. In Jesus’ time, as in our time, all differences were not first order issues, but guess what caused the most dramatic challenges.

Only approximately 1 million of the 6 or so million Jews in the ancient world lived in Palestine. It was a monotheistic culture which, early in its history, recognized Yahweh to be its God. He was a pure and holy God who required absolute devotion and obedience to the moral commandments He had revealed these to His prophet Moses, and they were such core issues such as strict dietary laws, and the circumcision requirement of the Covenant between Him and Abraham. The Jews had become fiercely nationalistic as a result of hundreds of years of persecution in the Diaspora. The more they suffered, the more they turned inward toward their religion and their very personal God to deliver them from this seemingly endless political persecution. The same thing we do, or should do, today when we face similar threats. During this time, many Jewish leaders preached that the writings of their prophets foretold of a mighty leader, perhaps even a divine being, which would either defeat and drive the Romans into the sea, or bring the world to an end which would usher in the establishment of the Kingdom of God. They called this savior the Messiah, Ha Mashiach, which meant “anointed one.” By 33 AD there were four major sects of Judaism: the Pharisaic, the Sadduceean, the Essene, and the Christian. Each had different ideas not only about how the first order issues of their religion should be followed but also about who this Messiah might be, when He would come, and what exactly He would do.
During the 200 years preceding the birth of Jesus, the two most well-known sects of His time developed—the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The name “Pharisee” has two possible origins. Some believe that it comes from the Hebrew word “perusim,” which means “separated ones.” Others believe it comes from the Hebrew word “parosim,” which means specifier since they sought to specify the correct meaning of God’s law. The origin of the name “Sadducee” is also speculative. Some believe the Sadducees were named after Zadok, a priest in the time of Kings David and Solomon. Others theorize the name came from the Hebrew word, “tzadikim,” which means “the righteous ones.” The Pharasees believed in both the oral and the written law passed down from Moses. Early on, they established the practice of worshipping at synagogues, places out in the open air or in homes, vice the Temple. They stressed religious education at an early age and built many schools to this end. According to British historian Paul Johnson:

In their battle against Greek education, pious Jews began, from the end of the second century BC, to develop a national system of education. To the old scribal schools were added a network of local schools where, in theory at least, all Jewish boys were taught the Torah. This development was of great importance in the spread and consolidation of the synagogue, in the birth of Pharisaism as a movement rooted in popular education, and eventually in the rise of the rabbinate.

The Pharisees were fanatically devoted to the strict application and observance of Mosaic Law and the “oral law” otherwise known as the “Oral Torah.” Paul Johnson, goes on to describe this devotion:

They followed ancient traditions inspired by an obscure text in Deuteronomy, “put it in their mouths” that God had given Moses, in addition to the written law, an Oral Law, by which learned elders could interpret and supplement the sacred commands. The practice of the Oral Law made it possible for the Mosaic code to be adapted to changing conditions and administered in a realistic manner.

This is not unlike our habit of writing commentaries and interpretations of the scripture. We don’t disagree with the scripture; we just look at it the same from different perspectives. This was the genesis of the differences between our Lord and the Pharisees. Jesus found fault with the Pharisees for being obsessed with the wrong things and for not practicing what they preached, but He never criticized the nature of what they taught. “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.” Matt 23:2-3. In modern Total Quality Management parlance, they “talked-the-talk, but didn’t walk-the-walk.” How many of us do exactly that same thing. It is interesting to note however, and it is widely known and accepted, that Jesus based much of His teaching on Pharasaic thought. Josephus refers to this commonality:

The Pharisees believed in the resurrection from the dead and in the existence of spirit beings such as angels and demons. They believed humans had freedom to make their own choices, but that God could and did interpose His will in mens’ lives. They also believed that souls have an immortal vigor in them and that men would be punished or rewarded in the next age based upon how they conducted themselves in this life.

Since most Jews considered themselves to be Pharisees, this sect was the most popular with the common people. And, therefore, they had the most clout in all arenas. To illustrate, Emil Schurer in his book, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Christ, said:

The Pharisees maintained their leadership in spiritual and secular matters, especially in urban circles. It is true that the Sadducean High Priests stood at the head of the Sanhedrin. But in fact it was the Pharisees, and not the Sadducees, who made the greatest impact on the ordinary people. The Pharisees had the masses for their allies, the women being especially devoted to them. They held the greatest authority over the congregations, so that everything to do with worship, prayers, and sacrifice took place according to their instructions. Their popularity was said to have been so high that they were listened to even when they criticized the King. For the same reasons, also, the Sadducees in their official functions [religious and political] complied with the Pharisaic requirements because otherwise, the people would not have tolerated them.

Please hold that thought, because this is an extremely opportune moment for me to digress a bit. In comparison with this very understandable balance of power, we Christians seem to have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in our modern world. A recent Zogby poll of over 250,000 Americans from all states, genders, and flavors of religion, showed that 73.5 percent of our citizens supported the separation of church and state, but wanted to see God back in the schools! About 10 percent didn’t give a hoot one way or the other and the remaining 16.5 percent were adamantly opposed to God showing His face anywhere near a classroom. In the academic environment where semantics, the study of words and their meanings, is valued it is odd that a significant minority can keep the saving Word from being mentioned or studied. Back in Judea, where the power structure functioned as it should, things began to pop. As Christianity began to woo and convert not only Gentile converts but also Jews in large numbers, the Pharisee majority became violently opposed to Jesus and His followers and things heated up. “Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him…”(Luke 22:52) We see in this verse that Jesus, yet again through His suffering, brought enemies together: The Pharisees and Sadducees came to work towards a common goal, albeit to structure Jesus earthly demise.

The Sadducees, a much smaller group, not only had some very different first order religious beliefs from the Pharisees but also were opposed to Jesus and His minions–but for a significantly different reason. They were upper-class, wealthy, aristocratic individuals who generally benefited financially and politically from Roman rule and were able to hold power because of this wealth and their political skills. They were not as concerned with religion for religion’s sake as much as the power, affluence and social status they could acquire through the religious and political office of the High Priest. Small wonder they were hated by the masses.

As a result of their high social status the Sadducees were dominated by political interests, and in these areas they were rigidly conservative, it naturally being in their best interest to maintain the status quo. Maintaining the status quo necessarily entailed collaboration with the Roman occupiers, from whom their power was delegated, and for this self-serving policy the masses despised the Sadducees.

Religiously, the Sadducees rejected everything except the written Scriptures, or the Pentatuch (the first five books of Moses), and adhered strictly to the letter of the Mosaic Law without any of the “wiggle room” allowed to the Pharisees by the “Oral Torah.” They did not believe in resurrection or spirit beings. Despite their declared policy towards the Mosaic Law, they relied instead upon their Book of Decrees to resolve civil and religious violations, which outlined specific punishments for specific crimes. As a side note, it was the first written precursor to the Mishna, written by Rabbi Yehuda ha Nasi around 200 AD, which contained the entire body of Jewish religious law that was passed down and developed before 200 AD. Now, there isn’t any mystery as to why the Sadducees opposed Jesus. They believed, as a result of the turbulence caused by His ministry, He would cause trouble with Rome and Rome would cause trouble for them—and lots of it. Quite predictably therefore, there isn’t any record of a Sadducee becoming a Christian. The Essenes, however, were quite another story. This third sect was a communal group of men who essentially lived a monastic existence—devoid of city comforts and totally without women. Their religious beliefs were probably the closest in theology to those of Jesus and Jesus knew of them through His association with John the Baptist. There is even some evidence that Jesus spent time with the sect and was accepted as a card-carrying member. Eventually, the Essenes were absorbed completely into Christianity and disappeared as a viable culture after the Roman invasion of 70 AD. Our fourth group became the great absorber, either in whole or in part, of the three previously mentioned groups. At the time of Christ, Christianity was generally regarded by the Sanhedrin as a sect of Judaism. This should not be a surprising revelation, since for the first 50 years or so the Church was primarily composed of Jewish people and was regarded by the Romans as a Zealot sect whose primary purpose of overthrowing the Roman rule was only thinly disguised by a religious cloak. The Roman fear was amplified by talk of the imminent appearance of the King of the Jews, the Messiah (or anointed one) who would lead a successful rebellion to free them from the boot of their Roman oppressors. Exactly what Pilate, whose position as Prefect was becoming more tenuous as each day’s events occurred, didn’t want to hear. He and the other Romans were also irritated that a bunch of slaves would dare preach publicly that the end-times were near. A prophesy which struck solidly at the desired perception of Roman invincibility. And then a cataclysmic event occurred: Jesus of Nazareth appeared on the world stage and was proclaimed by many to be The Christ—The Messiah whose coming was foretold in holy prophesies. And the earliest of these choruses was lead by John the Baptist:

Again the next day after, John stood and two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as He walked, he saith, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ One of the two who heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. (Jn 1:35-36; 40-41

Not much later on, Jesus was hailed as the Messiah not only by a handful of disciples but by the masses of Jerusalem as He rode into the city on the back of a donkey, as had been prophesied. As such, He presented an extremely disconcerting dilemma for the Jewish religious leaders. Was He, in fact, the real deal or simply just another pretender in a long and recent litany of pretenders to the messiahship? Was His claim to be the “Son of Man,” His continual references to His Father being Yahweh true or not? They seemed incredible, but there were all of those miracles. What of them? The debates went on, but the only thing all could agree upon was that Jesus Christ, whatever or whoever He really was, was violently rocking the religious and political boat. What was Caiaphas to do with Jesus and these Christians? The Pharisees were losing people in droves to this Christian sect and they were extremely unhappy. Jesus was undermining the authority and control of the Sadducees and they were beginning to chafe as well. Pilate was looking his way with a concerned eye as well. However, even though a viable Mosaic alternative, Caiaphas couldn’t realistically bring down a judgment from the Sanhedrin to stone Jesus to death for blasphemy, because only days before He had been hailed as the Messiah by all of Jerusalem. Therefore, he feared a riot—the immediate result of which would be a Roman boot on his priestly neck. Then a very fortuitous thing happened for Caiaphas—possibly even revealed by Pilate’s questioning of Jesus. The masses suddenly realized that the kingdom Jesus was planning to establish was a “kingdom not of this earth.” It was a kingdom in the hearts of men. Suddenly their loving support vanished. The Messiah was expected, by popular notion and religious prophesy, to lead a successful revolt against the Romans. But He only seemed interested in healing lepers and the lame. When it became clear that a revolt was not Jesus’ intention, the populace became furious. So Caiaphas having been between the proverbial rock and hard place saw a way out and he took it. He wasn’t happy with his intended course of action because he knew he was still a few sandwiches short of a picnic from an evidentiary perspective. But, he labeled Jesus a seditionist anyway and then turned Him over to Pilate as a Roman, not a Jewish, problem.
This course of action that Caiaphas took was very interesting. God obviously put him in a predicament, but it wasn’t anything more than he could handle. He then gave Caiaphas a way out, which, although he didn’t like it, played into God’s plan for these events. Isn’t it interesting to see God laying challenges and solutions in Caiaphas’ way just as He does for us? Though I’m not convinced that Caiaphas made his choice based upon what God wanted, he still made the right choice and I’m sure he made it on faith. When we are faced with challenges, like Caiaphas, God always gives us a way out, which may or may not be to our liking. However, if we remember that God has promised to walk with us always, even unto the end of the earth, and that we will always come out stronger in the end if we put Him first, we’ll always make the right choice. Next week we will see that Caiaphas made the right choice for all of the wrong reasons, and because he is out of fellowship with God things will fall apart for him and fall together for Jesus.

Part 4: The Ultimate Spin Doctor

For the last 3 weeks we have been studying what the life of the High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple must have been like, and the environments within which he had to function. We saw that after resolving their internal differences, the Romans (under the leadership of Caesar Augustus) were the conquerors of the known world at the time of our Lord’s ministry. In particular, they held complete control over Judea, a land to which the Jews had returned from Babylonian exile in 538 BC. Smarting from hundreds of years of oppression, punctuated by only brief respites of autonomy, these fiercely nationalistic Jews in a Roman Judea chafed at yet another foreign oppressor’s boot placed squarely on their collective necks. It fell to the two prominent leaders in the area to keep any potential sedition in check and to prevent unbridled emotion from becoming the ultimate demise of the Jews (and them) in Judea. These two, Pilate and Caiaphas, turned out to be flip sides of the same coin. For decidedly different reasons, they worked well together for 10 years and, more or less, kept the Judean ship on an even keel despite the ongoing external conflict between Romans and zealous Jews and internal conflicts between the Pharisaic and Sadduceean hierarchies. While being at odds for literally hundreds of years, these two sects eventually joined forces with the Romans in 1st Century Judea to “deal” with the “troublemaker” Jesus of Nazareth. Finding himself chronically at the epicenter of this seemingly uncontrollable storm, Joseph Caiaphas became a master at taking advantage of opportune moments to turn misfortune into light at the end of the tunnel.
Actually Caiaphas reminds me of a politician I knew back in Michigan when I was growing up. This guy, much like our esteemed High Priest, was always surrounded by controversy. Chief among these was the fact that in a very agricultural, animal-oriented part of the state, this man had gotten a Veterinarian Degree, but never practiced. Instead he went into politics and was very successful, defeating all comers for almost 20 years due to his powerful oratory and his ability to cleverly turn or spin his adversaries’ claims to return against them. During every campaign, his foes sarcastically referred to him as “the Vet,” and made all manner of demeaning comments about his failure to even try to succeed at the profession for which he had been educated. One day during a particularly heated debate his opponent sarcastically asked, “Are you really a veterinary surgeon?” To which the very accomplished Spin Doctor replied, “Why do you ask? Are you ill?” It appears that for most of Caiaphas tenure as High Priest, especially during Christ’s ministry, he constantly had to manipulate and spin the situation at hand in order to survive it. And for 19 years he seemed to have been able to do just that.

As we have seen, Jesus of Nazareth posed quite a challenge for Caiaphas and Pilate alike. Had they looked at Him as the real McCoy, things may have been different. But, they chose to view Him as just the latest blaspheming seditionist in what had become a rather lengthy line of pretenders to the throne of the Messiah. The threat to Caiaphas was decidedly different than the one to Pilate, but both knew from years of experience with these people that this matter had to be put to bed quickly, efficiently, and completely. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t allow themselves the realization that they were dealing with none other than The Son of God. While Pilate had remained, for the most part, rather ignorant of the details of Jesus’ ministry, Caiaphas had been made painfully aware of what was going on almost right from the beginning. He had carefully observed the growing crowds that gathered when Jesus’ preached. And, he was becoming increasingly alarmed at the nature of Jesus’ message. Jesus wasn’t trying to get the people to follow him into a military revolt, but rather, into a revolution of the heart—a revolution of agape love—a revolution of forgiveness—a revolution of salvation—a revolution that could easily spell the end of Judaism as he knew it. In horror he realized that all of these things were much more difficult to deal with, especially from a religious perspective, than a mere political insurrection. Regardless of what he thought, however, he realized that the storm clouds were gathering and the various institutions of Judaism were feeling the tremors of a potential change of huge proportions. But it wasn’t until he called the Sanhedrin’s “War Council” together that things began to get difficult.

It is in the following abbreviated account of the questioning of Jesus by the Jewish religious leaders, which ultimately resulted in His death, that we clearly see the fear, desperation, and political maneuvering engaged in by Caiaphas the Ultimate Spin Doctor. “Then the band and the captain and the officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him.”(Jn 18:12) After consulting with his inner circle, Caiaphas realized that the only reasonable course of action was to at least arrest Jesus and bring Him in for questioning. I’m sure he didn’t fully understand where this would all lead, but he undoubtedly understood that this would put into motion forces he could probably not control. Little did Caiaphas realize that this had already happened, but it was God who was the puppeteer, not him. “And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.”(Jn 18:13) This was actually a very logical thing to have happen and I’m sure Caiaphas anticipated it as well. Though deposed as High Priest, Annas had remained the real power behind the priestly throne and was very highly respected by the average Jew. Besides, Caiaphas could have thought that he might have gotten lucky with Annas questioning this Carpenter first, and having the onus fall on Annas for any subsequent fallout. “Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house.”(Lk 22:54) But Annas’ questioning accomplished little and the next thing Caiaphas knew, Jesus was arriving at his house for further interrogation. Well, here we go, Caiaphas must have thought. At exactly the same time, another drama was playing out in the courtyard of the house with Peter, but Caiaphas was patently unaware of it, so he continued with Jesus. “The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine.”(Jn 18:19) Even at this point, Caiaphas realized he was skating on very thin ice. He had to find some way to spin the activities of the disciples into some kind of seditious plots and, even though he didn’t think he had a problem with the blasphemy issue, he wanted desperately to shore up his foundations by pinning heresy on Jesus as well. He probably thought that if he could do this, he might even get away with having Jesus stoned to death right there and then. “And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together.”(Mk 14:55-59) Isn’t it incredible that so many witnesses were up and about at such an early hour? The consensus of opinion is that either Caiaphas or his inner circle hired these “eyewitnesses.” But the Devil’s work yields poison fruit, for according to Mosaic Law; in order to invoke the death penalty there have to be at least two eyewitnesses to the crime and their stories must be consistent. With that failing by the minute, I’m sure Caiaphas began getting a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. Much the same feeling as when your mother asks, “Who ate all of the chocolate chip cookies?” You know there’s not much you can say because you’ve got chocolate in the corners of your mouth. Well, Caiaphas knew he was going to have to change tacks quickly, so he redirected his efforts towards the capital offense of desecration of a holy place. What the heck, he figured that if he kept throwing enough mud at the wall something would stick. After all he must have thought, couldn’t we twist Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple into a desecration issue? And let’s not forget that He threatened to destroy the whole Megillah and rebuild it in only three days. Jesus was obviously referring to the rebuilding of the Temple of His body, which would be eternally witnessed to by His resurrection three days after His death. We understand this and so did Caiaphas, but he had to turn this into something punishable by death, because that was the only way he thought he could be rid of this insurrectionist for good. Certainly he could convince Pilate that this rebellious threat to attack and destroy the Temple was just the first step in the prophesied revolt lead by the Messiah. Certainly Pilate would see this and take action. After all, he’d killed lots of people before without any just cause. Certainly he’d execute just one man for all they’d been through together—wouldn’t he? Knowing in his heart that this thinly disguised course of action still wouldn’t float with Pilate, especially since he was recently censured by the Syrian Governor for being cruel and unjust, he needed condemnation from Jesus’ own mouth. “And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?”(Mk 14:60) Again Jesus outfoxed him. By saying nothing, Jesus at the same time refused to give credibility to this “Kangaroo Court” and did not incriminate Himself. So Caiaphas, feeling pretty desperate and uneasy, forced the issue again by asking Jesus directly about His deity. “Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the son of the Blessed?” Well, Caiaphas finally quit beating around the bush and got to the meat of the matter. Even though he had been told that Jesus claimed to be God, the Sanhedrin in formal court had only heard the fragmented and flawed testimony of their own hired henchmen. Caiaphas was playing the ace of trump. If he could get Jesus to say He was God in open court, then no one could condemn him for having Jesus killed. Eureka! He had this pretender exactly where he wanted him. “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”(Mk 14:62) Wow! What a commotion that must have caused. If it were a modern-day courtroom, the reporters would be leaving the courtroom like rats leaving a sinking ship—fighting to be the first out the door to call in the incredible statement of guilt for the evening edition of the newspaper, or for the 6 PM TV news program. What a moment! But, just as reporters today regularly miss “The rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to say, no one even paused to think about the real news story that was coming out of the Lords mouth. The real story was that yes, He had just confirmed blasphemy in the minds of His accusers. But He was also telling them of the authority He would receive at His ascension. He was warning them that the accused of today would become the accuser and judge of tomorrow. He was sitting in their courtroom today, but they would be cowering in His courtroom tomorrow. He would fulfill Old Testament prophesy with a vengeance. Many believe that promise came true when the Romans invaded Jerusalem in 70 AD, killing many, enslaving the rest, and destroying the Temple—the center of Jewish identity—which has yet to be rebuilt. But Caiaphas was ill equipped to realize any of this. “Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death.”(Mk 14:63-64) Victory! Dada Dada, Dada Dada,Victory! His gamble had paid off handsomely—Admission of guilt from the lips of the accused. It doesn’t get any better than that. Caiaphas was overjoyed and, in an outburst of pure emotion fueled by years of frustration and anger, he tore his clothing. A formal act of recognition, which exists to this day, that he had just witnessed blasphemy and he was free to exact the ultimate punishment without fear of reprisal. But in his joy, Caiaphas had lost focus.
Caiaphas was so blinded by his own self-service that he made a critical error in judgment, one that would severely test his ability to influence the masses in the matter of Jesus’ execution and one that ultimately would lead to his downfall. What Caiaphas failed to consider, was that Pilate would not stick his neck out again in what he still considered to be an internal Jewish matter. Sure the death sentence of the Sanhedrin needed Pilate’s blessing, because Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin wanted Jesus to have the most ignominious death possible—crucifixion. They wanted more than anything, and desperately needed, a public humiliation for the death of this self-proclaimed Messiah who didn’t fit their concept of the prophesied Messiah. They craved a spectacle of mockery and debauchery for this self-proclaimed King of the Jews. But it almost didn’t happen. After questioning Jesus about the Sanhedrin’s claims, “Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.” Caiaphas must have seen his life flash before his eyes. Panic set in. What to do now? What to do now, he asked himself over and over again. What will this huge crowd think of the Sanhedrin? What will they think of me? What will Pilate think of me? Then, almost like Manna from Heaven, Pilate said, “But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?”(Jn 19:39) Aha, said the Ultimate Spin Doctor! This crowd will be my deliverance. So he urged them on and all of the Sanhedrin present urged the crowd on, for their fates hung in the balance as well. “Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas.”(Jn 19:40a) And Pilate complied. At this point, Jesus’ fate was sealed and God had triumphed both in spite of and because of Caiaphas, Pilate, and the Sanhedrin. How perfectly beautiful is that? Praise God.

The Ultimate Spin Doctor finally got spun out. He seemed to have everything going for him: Aristocratic birth, the best education, highly placed in-laws, the most powerful job in the Jewish world, great intelligence, and the strength of the Torah—the Mosaic Law. But when we’re out of fellowship with God, His Word is of no help. When we’re in the world, not just of it, we fall to the sin of the flesh and worship the false idols of money, power, prestige, vanity, and fame. Caiaphas thought he was invincible in the end. He was blinded by arrogance and power, which finally brought the Ultimate Spin Doctor, as well as his people, to his knees. Unlike Caiaphas, when we walk in fellowship with God, bathing in the light of His wisdom and His love, with the Sword of the Spirit in our hands and in our hearts, we aren’t even susceptible to falling to the ways of the world. For, thanks to God’s will being realized (through Caiaphas, Pilate and the others), when we are tempted to stray, and doubt our will to resist, all we each need say is, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”(Phil 4:13)

Johnson, Paul. A History of the Jews. NY, New York: Harper and Row, 1988.
Josephus, Flavius. The Antiquities of the Jews. Bk 18, Ch 1, Sec 4. n.p., n.d.
Josephus, Flavius. On the Embassy to Gaius. n.p., n.d.
Schurer, Emil. The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Christ, rev. ed. Vol 2. Chicago, IL: Continuum International Publishing Group, 1986.

Feedback From Instructor

Grade 100 out of 100.0

Comments Mark,

All I can say is “Wow!” This is the best student paper/project I have ever read in my 15 years of full-time, plus eight years of part-time, teaching experience.

Blessed by your effort and creative expression!
Boyd Luter

A Term Paper Submitted To Dr. Luter
To Partially Satisfy
The Degree Requirements For
A Master of Divinity

NBST 521

Mark A. Mayerstein

February 17, 2007


Part 1: Growing Up Caiaphas 2
Part 2: The Boots of Oppression
Part 3: A Jew by Any Other Name
Part 4: Caiaphus: The Ultimate Spin Doctor

PROPOSED SETTING: Main Worship Service, Sermon
TIME REQUIRED: 25-35 Minutes Each
DURATION: 4 Weeks for Each Series