What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We see this played out in today’s scripture reading. In this instance the immovable object does everything in its power to eliminate the unstoppable force. The religious authorities sent a crowd with swords and clubs to arrest Jesus. The arrest happened at night because the chief priests, scribes and elders feared the people during the day. They stood Jesus before a kangaroo court and brought trumped up charges against him. When the words of the witnesses contradicted each other, Jesus was ordered to speak. The authorities twisted Jesus’ words in order to condemn him. They did all this in order to preserve the status quo; so they wouldn’t have to change. Still they could not contain the unstoppable force of God’s love and grace.
There are times our hard hearts and stiff necks prove to be obstacles to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Eddie had been betrayed by his friend and business partner. Eddie couldn’t forgive, even though he knew that as a disciple of Jesus he was called to forgive. It took eighteen months before Eddied yielded to the Spirit’s strength and was reconciled with his former friend. Jamal would regularly drop in a twenty dollar bill in the collection plate, which was a minuscule percentage of the $85,000.00 yearly salary he was paid. Jamal had heard how important good stewardship—sound money management and giving a percentage of one’s income—was to his life as a disciple of Jesus, but there were simply too many things Jamal wanted. He never had much left over to give. Jamal struggled several years before taking a step of faith sharing his financial blessings.
Fearing change and clinging to the status quo there are time when we act in a manner similar to the chief priests, scribes and elders. We resist every way we can. Yet, the path of change that God’s love and grace leads us on is a path of a new, abundant life. The Holy Spirit never stops working in our lives and the possibility of change always remains open.
Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” So when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. Then they laid hands on him and arrested him. But one of those who stood near drew his sword and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” All of them deserted him and fled.
A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.
They took Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes were assembled. Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death; but they found none. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony did not agree. Some stood up and gave false testimony against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” But even on this point their testimony did not agree. Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” But he was silent and did not answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and
‘you will see the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power,’
and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.