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Mark 267 - Piling On

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Mark 15:31,32

It’s one thing to have someone accuse and mock you. But it’s entirely another thing to have more people join in. The weight of the accusations feels all that much heavier.

But these are not just more people passing by, these are people of prominence, people of religious and political power. When the chief priests and teachers of the law join in, it becomes a much bigger thing.

The high priests represent all the religious and spiritual authority of Israel. In a real sense, they’re God’s representatives here on earth. They’ve been educated and trained in the word of God since birth. They were raised in families that had deep faith traditions.

To become a high priest, you didn’t go away to the best schools, attend seminars, or go on mission trips. No, you were born into it. Your father was a high priest, and you were the eldest son. You had very little choice not only about your professional career, but your entire life.

The teachers of the law were different. They represented all the wisdom and knowledge of the Old Testament law. But it didn’t stop there, they had a deep and rich tradition of how God’s laws were to be interpreted and lived out. While the law included the Old Testament, there were whole encyclopedias about how it applied to everyday life.

This required lots of education, training, practice. There were advanced classes that they had to take. There was lots of material that they had to become familiar with, master, and be able to speak about.

And when the chief priests and teachers of the law spoke, people listened. It was like the old EF Hutton commercials: “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.[1]"

Like the passing crowds, they wanted to see first, believe later. After being beaten within an inch of his life, to the point that he had to be helped to walk to his death, and nailed to a cross, they demand that he somehow come down. Then, and only then, would they believe.

There’s something very interesting about this. If you think about it, they demand that God do something in order for him to prove himself to them. They require God to step up to the plate and, spiritually speaking, and smack the ball out of the park. They tell God not to just jump through a hoop, but to jump through a hoop of their making. They get to tell God how to reveal himself. Show himself. Prove himself.

In other words, they put themselves over and above God. And we beat them up for this. But isn’t this exactly what we do?

“God, you have to show up a certain way. God, you have to prove yourself the way that I want you to. God, you have to submit to me.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, makes us God.

Let me just say that this is not the kind of spirit or attitude that God is looking for.

And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

James 4:6 NLT

God is a giving God. It’s part of his nature. Who he is. And he doesn’t just give, he gives big time. He gives, and gives, and keeps on giving. But we have a part to play.

Our part is to be humble. To have a realistic and accurate view of the life he’s given us and who we are[2]. When we’re proud, we see ourselves incorrectly. We see ourselves as more than we actually are. We think that our “light” is brighter and more beautiful than who and what we really are.

The chief priests and teachers of the law had a higher view of themselves, not just above regular people, but also God. They had life and God wired. They knew how to manipulate life and God. They used people, life, and God to their advantage.

We were made to be humble before God and people. We were made to worship God and serve people. Anything else goes against how we were made. Who we were made to be.

And that puts them against God. And that’s not a place I want to be. How about you?

[1] [2] Romans 12:3

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