By Rev. Ronald Stelzer
Caiaphas States That No One is Above the Law!
I am Caiaphas, the High Priest. We have been making a strong case for the impeachment of Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, the evidence against him is substantial and irrefutable. We have brought against him the first article of impeachment: the charge of blasphemy: profaning the name of the Holy One by taking the honor that belongs only to God – actually bringing God down to his level. That in itself is enough to condemn him to the cross. But there is more. Much more.
The second article of impeachment is for his flagrant, repeated, and unrepentant breaking of the law of the Sabbath. Like the law against having another god or taking God’s name in vain, the law of the Sabbath is sacrosanct, coming directly from God, written by the finger of God on stone and given directly by God to Moses. This despicable fellow thinks he can ignore it and change it to suit himself. No one is above the law!
Defiance of Legitimate Authority
Now we must consider a third cause of impeachment: dishonoring and defiance of legitimate authority. God gave the commandment to and through Moses: “Honor you father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” By this criterion this base fellow does not deserve a long life. His attitude toward his widowed mother is disrespectful and dismissive. Usually he ignores her, but on more than one occasion our witnesses have heard him address her: “Woman,” instead of calling her “Mother” or “Mom.” Once when his mother was concerned for his need for food and rest, she and his brothers asked to see him. He just brushed them off saying, “My mother and brothers are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.” His attitude toward parental authority is, to say the least, poor.
Jesus Calls Religious Leaders a “Brood of Vipers”
But much worse is his flippancy toward our spiritual fathers, the patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. In his Sermon on the Mount he repeatedly referred disparagingly to our law, saying, “You have heard that it was said . . . but I say unto you . . . Then would follow some absurd interpretation and application of divine statutes. He demeaned religious authorities saying, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I guess he thinks we’re all going to hell. He has publically called our religious leaders “hypocrites, blind guides, white-washed tombs, murderers of prophets, a brood of vipers, snakes.”
He created a great disturbance in the Temple courtyard, madly swinging a whip overturning money-changers’ tables and scattering their coins and driving out the sheep and cattle, claiming it was his Father’s house. Who does he think he is anyway? When he was asked what authority he had to do such things, he just changed the subject and talked about John the Baptizer.
Jesus Claims to Be “King of the Jews”
He is just as outrageous in speech and behavior to civil authorities. He would not even answer the questions posed by King Herod and Pontius Pilate – then finally to Pilate he said, “You have no authority over me except that given you from above,” and then he claimed to be “King of the Jews.” He is not our king, and we let Pilate know that if Pilate didn’t get rid of him, Pilate was no friend of Caesar. Jesus is clearly insubordinate, a promoter of revolution, and an enemy of all law and order. He is guilty of treason and high crimes. He must be impeached forever.
Is there anyone to speak in his defense?
Simon The Zealot Takes the Stand
My name is Simon, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. I am called Simon the Zealot to distinguish me from Simon Peter, the fisherman. Yes, before I met Jesus I was a card-carrying, loyal member of the party of the Zealots, actively plotting revolution and delighting in terrorizing Roman soldiers. We were trying to hasten the day of the coming of the Messiah, whom we expected to lead a rebellion and revolution against the Roman occupation. In our minds violence was justified – patriotic – and necessary. But Jesus changed me.
Jesus Friend of the Romans
The Roman occupation and oppression didn’t seem to bother Him. He encouraged us to pay our taxes. He paid the tax Himself – got His coin from the mouth of a fish. He said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” He got along with Roman soldiers, and He even said of one centurion, “I have not seen such great faith in Israel.” When soldiers mocked Him, tortured Him, crucified Him, He just prayed for them: “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they do.”
Jesus Challenges the Deep State
I must admit Jesus got more agitated at our religious authorities. Jesus thought that what they were doing to men’s souls was much more serious than what the Romans were doing to our bodies – and pocketbooks. Jesus accused our religious authorities of caring more for their reputation, their positions, their power, their privileges than for God and the people, who were like sheep without a shepherd. The more popular Jesus became and the bigger His crowds got, the more the Pharisees and Sadducees feared Him. They liked things the way they were, and didn’t want an outsider, a Galilean, to disturb their power and privilege. For them Rome was a nuisance, but at least they knew what to expect, and they had an arrangement with the powers that be. And if they played it right, they knew they could usually get their way. They had become the Deep State.
Jesus Obeys The Father
Jesus was not rebellious. He just put divine authority above human authority. When human authority rebelled against divine authority, Jesus always sided with God. He thought He must obey God rather than man. Even when He faced torture and death, He submitted Himself to His Father: “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.”
For that His Father greatly honored Him. He was raised from the dead on the third day. We saw Him ascend into heaven to the right hand of God the Father. Before He left, He told us: “All authority in heaven and on the earth has been given to Me. Therefore, go make disciples. . . . Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Jesus is Authority!
Because Jesus was obedient unto death, even death on the cross, God has given Him a Name that is above every Name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
We must not impeach Jesus for dishonoring authority. Jesus is authority. All other authority is under Him. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and He shall reign forever and ever. Amen.
The Impeachment Continues
Read Article 4: Murder
About The Author
Pastor: Rev. Ronald Stelzer is a 3rd generation minister in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and 2nd generation teacher and coach in Lutheran schools.
He was raised in a six-child family in Kansas and Indiana, graduated from St. Paul's Lutheran School and Concordia Lutheran High School in Fort Wayne, Davidson College in North Carolina and Concordia Seminary in St. Louis and Fort Wayne.
He and wife Margaret of 35 years have six grown children and six grandchildren. He has served two years in sports ministry with Athletes in Action, a year in youth missions with Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ, four years as chaplain/teacher/coach at his high school alma mater, and 35 years as pastor of Our Savior, where he helped found and lead Our Savior New American School 28 years ago.
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Pastor: Rev. Ronald W. Stelzer
Assistant to the Pastor: Gary D’Aquino, LCMS Deacon
Director of Parish Music: Ray Knehnetski
Secretary: Robin Reade