Matthew 28:11-15 The Day After: Damage Control?

1 04 2013

RomanGuards

And Pilate had asked, “What is truth?” (John 18:38)

“While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened.  After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, ‘You must say, “His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.”’ ‘If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.’  So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.”  Matthew 28:11-15 (NRSV)

The truth shall set you free (John 8:31-32,) which explains why lies are some of the greatest tools of those who wish to keep people in bondage.  The truth of Jesus’ resurrection was a rather inconvenient truth for the elders and priests.  All along they had been calling Jesus a fraud and a blasphemer and did everything they could to discredit His Name.  It would have been rather awkward for them to suddenly change their tune and sacrifice their own credibility, especially for someone they considered to be a two-bit heretic.  Pride is a powerful motivator.  One of the hardest phrases to say is, “I was wrong.”  It’s right up there with “I’m sorry.”

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The priests and elders would have definitely lost face if they admitted they were wrong about Jesus, but the danger to them was even deeper than that.

As time went on, followers of Jesus had ways of turning up dead.

The Romans weren’t terribly fond of any challenge to their power, but, surprisingly, Romans were generally tolerant of a wide variety of religious practices.   The Romans were a lot more tolerant, at least as far as religious practices, than the Jewish leadership of Jesus’ time.  That’s the reason why Pontius Pilate wasn’t particularly anxious to condemn Jesus to death.  Pilate would have probably been quite fine had Jesus claimed to be the Queen of Sheba.  Jewish laws concerning blasphemy or Sabbath rest meant nothing to Pilate.  As long as Caesar got his money, and the Romans kept their hold on power, Rome really didn’t care what individuals believed.

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But if those who offended the Jewish leadership could be framed as being a threat to Rome…then the Jewish authorities keep their credibility with the people, destroy their enemies, and keep the Romans happy.  In theory their plan sounded effective, but it didn’t keep the peace for long.  Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed in 70 AD.  Even though they threw the Son of God under the bus to save their own hides, the Jewish authorities could not keep the various rebellions under wraps.

One coverup, one lie, in the name of “damage control.”  How many scandals in history have been swept under the rug in the name of damage control?  How many people have been condemned for the price of the highest bidder?

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The French have a saying: Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose- The more things change, the more things stay the same.

The temptation to engage in coverups and damage control becomes more and more irresistable the higher the stakes become.  We see it in the news every day- this or that information was withheld, or spun, or was flat out false.  People will do that- sacrifice the truth in the name of their own hides, in the name of power, and in the name of money.  That hasn’t changed.  Corruption is as old as the Fall and as current as today’s headlines.

Being the cynical soul that I can often be, I find it hard to believe the official spin.   After all, Jesus said we should be as wise as serpents, but as innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)   To me that means refusing to take the statements from the “powers that be” as Gospel truth- especially when the “powers that be” have vested interests in purveying lies.

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The problem is that it would be all well and good if I could just sit in an ivory tower and say the Jewish authorities were evil and terrible for the damage control they tried to enact with a bit of bribery and lies.  The problem is that it would be all well and good today if corruption and lies were only confined to the government.

The problem is, I do it too.  I rationalize my behavior.  I do what’s expedient to preserve face, to save my own hide, and to retain what little tiny bit of power I might think I have.

Do I really want to tell the truth- without bias, without spin, without omissions, even when it may incriminate me or show me out to be a hypocrite or a liar?  What if telling the truth means sacrificing my own hide?

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How have my attempts at “damage control” betrayed others, and therefore, Jesus?

SacredHeart

Who am I going to believe?  Who am I going to trust?

Am I someone others can believe? Am I someone others can trust?