Matthew 26:3-5. “Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill Him. But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
We lost track of the bad guys for a while there, didn’t we? While Jesus was preaching the Olivet discourse, it was pretty easy to forget that Jesus had powerful enemies who hated Him.
Hated Him? But why? What had He done to cause their hatred?
He had scored on them way too many times, pointing out their hypocrisy. He had nailed them every time they tried to debate with Him. He had performed miracles that they couldn’t explain. He had claimed authority that made them insanely jealous. They hated Him because they would lose their power, position, and presige if He were to become important in Israel. He had claimed to be God!
Mostly, though, they hated Him for the same reason He is hated today: Satan hates Him, and all of Satan’s energies are poured into destroying all that God loves. Satan wanted Jesus dead, and this time he was determined to succeed.
Notice who met together to plot against Jesus.
The chief priests–these were the men who presided over the Temple, the sacrifices, and all things religious. They had immense wealth and power. They lived like kings, and treated the people with hauteur and disdain.
The scribes. These men were highly educated and were charged with copying the Law and the Prophets; also, they were the authorities on what the Law said about everything. They had a huge amount of influence.
The elders. These were the “older men” of a community who formed the ruling elite and were often members of official “councils.” Again, they wielded great power and influence in the community. They were wealthy, and they weren’t afraid to use their riches to buy influence.
Caiaphas, the High Priest. He had gained the position of Aaron, the brother of Moses, and was entitled to wear the garments set aside for the high priest. He pretty much called the shots. Notice how he lived–they all went to the palace of Caiaphas to do their plotting.
I can imagine all these wealthy, powerful men arriving in great state at the palatial home of the high priest. I imagine they were served expensive wine and other delicacies, having servants there to meet every need–and hear every word! I wonder what those servants must have thought as they listened to their masters debating ways and means of killing Jesus.
The Bible says they plotted ways to take Him by subtllty. That is, they were looking for ways to commit their horrible crime in a way that would make it seem like a good thing. To be subtle, in this context, is to make use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something. It is to hide one’s goal, to operate in what seems to be an open and transparent manner while hiding one’s true purpose.
As I wrote those words, I had this thought: America, you are being plotted against by subtle men who are hiding their true purpose, all the while making their actions seem like a good thing.
Rabbit trail there. Human nature doesn’t change much across the centuries.
My Dake’s Study Bible, in a margin note, says that history records that Caiaphas and Pilate were both deposed by Vitellius, then governor of Syria and afterwards emperor of Rome. Caiaphus, unable to bear the disgrace of having his position removed from him and likely struggling with a tortured conscience over his part in the murder of Jesus Christ, killed himself around 35 a.d.
Proverbs 13:15. “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.”