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Playwright, Tom Salagaj presents a scene from his Easter drama, “The Priest.” Scripture tells us that Caiaphas, the high priest of Israel, influenced the arrest, trial and conviction leading to Jesus’ public humiliation and execution. This scene recreates a historical account of a conversation that might have occurred between Caiaphas and his friend Abijah. Here, Abijah disagrees with the high priest’s condemnation of Jesus. Abijah warns Caiaphas that Jesus may be the promised Messiah.

Tom Salagaj/March 26, 2013

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(Photo Credit: Jesus and Caiaphas–Patheos.com)

Then one of them—it was Caiaphas, the designated Chief Priest that year—spoke up, “Don’t you know anything? Can’t you see that it’s to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?” He didn’t say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God’s exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people. From that day on, they plotted to kill him (John 11:49-53 MSG).

Background

By falsely accusing Jesus with blasphemy through the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas subsequently drove the chain of events to crucify Jesus (John 11:49-54; 18:14). Since the Sanhedrin could not execute people Caiaphas turned Jesus over to Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect (John 18:31b). Caiaphas shifted the killing responsibility to others in doing so. From Pilate to Herod and back again (Luke 23:1, 7, 11), Caiaphas’ council tried to convince each Roman official to execute Jesus due to threatening Roman stability and promoting rebellion (Luke 23:2,14). Pilate did not find Jesus guilty of any crime (John 18:38). Despite the absence of evidence (Luke 23:14), Pilate transferred this same responsibility over to the Jewish people. He asked them, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” (Mark 15:9 KJV). Pilate posed this question knowing the chief priests had vested interests in handing Jesus over to him in the first place (15:10). To no surprise, the chief priests and elders from Caiaphas’ court (Matt 27:20; Mark 15:11; Luke 23:23) persuaded the crowd to shout out to crucify Jesus over Barabbas. Thus, from contact in the Sanhedrin court to Pilate’s praetorian one discerns the hand of Caiaphas (and the Sanhedrin council).

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A Scene from “The Priest”

(Tom Salagaj, Lighthouse Church of All Nations, All Rights Reserved, 2013)

Caiaphas: “Abijah, my friend, you have been silent today. Have you anything to say to your High Priest?”

Abijah:  “Caiaphas, my friend, my priest, I honor you who have been appointed by Rome as Chief High Priest. May I speak freely?”

Caiaphas: “Yes, Abijah, my friend, please…speak to me. This has been a most difficult day.”

Abijah: “As you well know, Caiaphas…I am a scribe. My fathers have been scribes from the days of Ezra. I am aware; as you may be also…that our ancient writings from Isaiah and others predict a…saviour of our people. You must know that Isaiah wrote, ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace’ (Isa 9:6).”

Caiaphas: “Yes, yes, Abijah. But why do YOU think Isaiah’s prophecy has any bearing on Jesus?”

Abijah: “Caiaphas, you know that I would never disagree with you in front of the rest of our brothers. Yet, I must ask you to consider.

Remember when as young students to be priests, we were taught to have a high respect for our elder prophets? Also…you and I both remember how Herod ordered the slaughter of so many of our babies about the time that this Jesus was born in Bethlehem. How and why did he survive this tragedy? Is it not possible that he just might be the one spoken of by the prophets?

Yes, of course there is much confusion…even among us who lead the people. But the people; they ARE seeing things. Obvious miracles of healings. Even demons appear to be cast out! Not even we can do these things. Tell me…is this the work of demons? To do good? Or…is it possibly the work of God through this Jesus? Are you aware that many of the people are not speaking with us as they did before?

Is it not something we as leaders should consider?”

Caiaphas: “Abijah, my friend, I have thought of little else these past few weeks.  And yet…

I must not forget our arrangement with Rome. As you have stated, Rome appointed me to be High Priest. I have a mandate, an order to keep the peace among our own people. Our very lives depend on it. If this confusion in the streets continues, Pilate will hold ME personally responsible. Are you aware of the trouble the zealots have brought to our house? This Barabbas fellow, he is a tool of the uprising and even may have been used by this Jesus to make Rome uncomfortable.

Even with all of that…I do remember the prophecies. I also know that when the Redeemer comes…when HE comes…it is written that he must die for the people.

Abijah…if this Jesus is indeed who Isaiah is writing about…are we the ones to stand in the way of God? Are we to stifle the Word of God? Perhaps we should continue to allow Rome to fulfill this…destiny…if Jesus should be the one. The coming savior of our people is called a lamb. Lambs are for the slaughter. I must admit that I find it easier to believe that one person should die rather than the whole nation of Israel. But he now is taken to Pilate. Rome will have her way with him…and with us if we do not stop him.

Becoming extremely upset…

Why, Abijah! Why does he not make a defense? Why does he not explain himself? He makes no answer except to proclaim that he is the Son of God? Our law does not allow it!

No…things must proceed as they will. Pilate will do what is right. We must remember our position. We must not upset Rome. God surely will understand.”

Abijah: “Caiaphas…you do know the truth. I believe he may be the man God has sent to our people and to us. I remember what this Jesus said during one of his teachings: ‘Offenses will come…but woe to he through whom the offenses come.’”

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To ponder…

What does “Offenses will come…but woe to he through whom the offenses come” mean to you as a Christian in contemporary times?

Tom Salagaj, guest contributor, teaches practical theology at All Nations Leadership Institute (ANLI). His discipline of specialty is preaching and illustrated sermons. (Click here for his full biography.)  He also serves as assistant pastor with the Lighthouse Church of All Nations as director of the drama department.