January 13, 2012

Unparalleled: Samuel vs. Caiaphas

Though separated by a thousand years - Samuel and Caiaiphas were placed in quite similar situations - both lived during the rule of a foreign oppressor (Philistia and Rome), both were charged with leading God's people spiritually and politically, and both were faced with the difficult prospects of a paradigm-shifting power move on the part of a young king who resonated strongly with a nationalistic, king-hungry, beleaguered populace. Despite these similarities these two men responded radically differently when they encountered Yahweh's Anointed. Notice the sharp distinction in ideology and practice between two of Israel's most famous (and infamous) leaders.

Caiaphas' response to the pleas for a king and encountering Jesus:
“So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.” (John 11:47–53 ESV)
Samuel's response to the pleas for a king (Saul) and encountering David:
“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:4–9 ESV)

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the LORD chosen this one.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen these.” Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the LORD said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah.” (1 Samuel 16:7–13 ESV)
What do we do when we encounter the LORD's Anointed? Do we ask for God's direction and follow his command to bend the knee and pledge Him fealty? Or do we look to hold on to our "place" by attacking, demeaning, or neglecting the true King? Let us make the "Anointed" both Lord and King of our "nation" - despite how it affects our own standing among our peers.

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