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The worries of national leaders

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did [he had raised Mary’s brother from his four-day-old grave], believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the great council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both (1) our place and (2) our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. John 11: 45-53
Very recently President Putin took part in the consecration, in Moscow’s Sretensky Monastery, of a new Russian Orthodox church dedicated to martyrs who died after the Bolshevik (Communist) revolution in 1917. Afterwards he said, “It is our common duty to do everything we can to preserve our nation’s unity, maintaining social and political concord through ongoing dialogue, and drawing on the values of our traditional religions – Christian Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism – to prevent hostility and division from taking hold.” 

“Preserve our nation’s unity”? See (2) above. Of course, President Putin also has an interconnected personal agenda. See (1) above. Winthin the next year he is expected to seek a fourth term as President. He needs the support of voters who belong to all religions, but especially the religion with most voters - the Russian Orthodox Church.

To obtain personal electoral support what do all national leaders seek to obtain from religious leaders? See (1) above. Religious endorsement?


‘The world is all appearances, like our clothes: the truth lies underneath.’ (Thomas Carlyle, writer, 1795-1881)
What about when national leaders focus on national social cohesion? They will want to have maximum support from religious leaders in that objective. What will national leaders then require from religious leaders? See (2) above. Religious endorsement? Religious endorsement by religions of other religions? Pluralism for peaceful social cohesion? All three?

At an AD 30 assembly of Jerusalem’s great ruling council (the Sanhedrin) the chief priests (religious leaders) and the Pharisees (a political and religious party) met together. Their immediate concern (see bold above) was that this man Jesus, who had brought back Mary’s brother from the grave, was going to overturn and replace their Jewish religion. Rome required - just like today’s national leaders - that all religions – all Gods – be worshipped. Rome would intervene with force if Judaism caused division. Jesus was doing just that.

Like all national leaders, the Jerusalem councilors were concerned about (1) their own place in national leadership as well as about (2) the national interest.  By the way, which of these two was the most important to these Sanhedrin members? Was it (1) followed by (2)? Or the other way around?

The high-priest that year in Jerusalem knew exactly what was required to preserve “our place" (1) and “our nation" (2). Social (and religious) cohesion must be maintained - one man must be done away with. Jesus must die for the good of “the people”. With that all would be well. For “us” all.

To be re-elected (for (1)) national leaders seek the endorsement of all religious leaders, whose flocks are all voters. There is one major difficulty. It is, again, this man Jesus who not only died to provide forgiveness and life to his enemies but also rose from the dead. Please don’t mention this because Jesus is divisive. Don’t even mention his name. Better (like President Putin) to endorse “traditional religious values” rather than a living eternal Saviour. He will divide the voters.

To achieve social cohesion (for (2)) national leaders require that no religion should rock the boat by claiming exclusivity. Jesus is a dire challenge to all religions, including Christianity when it has become a lifeless religion. All religions must agree that there are many different roads and that all roads lead to the one, same “God”. To achieve that Jesus must be done away with. He must die. 


‘This the power of the cross/ Christ became sin for us/ Took the blame, bore the wrath/ We stand forgiven at the cross.’ (Keith Getty, composer and hymn writer)
This Jesus who was crucified and rose again offers eternal life to all who face death. But national leaders require that he must, today, now, again, be put to death. How many more times? Is this really, as in AD 30, “better for the people”?
Sinner Syvret

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