Todays readings.. 1 Kings 15, Jeremiah 41, Mark 15
“IT WAS OUT OF ENVY”
One of the outstanding characteristics of human nature is the capacity to be jealous, to envy others; many advertising tactics exploit this. The gospels repeatedly show us that those in positions of authority were envious of the great popularity Jesus enjoyed. Our ‘democratic’ societies have elections every few years and we witness the clash of ego’s between those seeking the prestige of being in government.
As we read Mark ch.15 we saw that it was easy for Pilate to “perceive that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered (Jesus) up.”[v.10] But Pilate was also a man of the world, so “wishing to satisfy the crowds … having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified” [v.15] We need to put the 4 Gospels together to get a full picture of the process of the mockery of a ‘trial’ that led up to Pilate’s decision; they all illustrate the envious mood of the advocates raising their voices against Jesus..
Human elections these days are full of efforts to satisfy the majority, but they never remain satisfied for long. With what cynicism did those who had been envious of Christ call out and “mocked him” as he hung on the cross, “saying, ‘He saved others, he cannot save himself. Let Christ the king of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” [v.31,32]
How shocked they would have been if that had happened! But how utterly shocked, astonished, dumbfounded, the world will be when Christ does come down – from heaven. Remember what we read yesterday in ch. 14; he told the High Priest, “you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” [v.62]
All envy will vanish at that time – to be replaced by utter awe for “the powers in the heavens will be shaken” [13 v.25] and “he will send out the angels to gather his elect” [v.27] And how do you qualify to be among the elect? All those whose character has been the very opposite of envy! Paul perfectly describes the qualities of the elect, “Love is patient and kind: love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant … rejoices with the truth … Love never ends.” [1 Cor. 13 v.4-8] It will never end in God’s kingdom, but we must practice it now and make sure we get rid of all our tendencies to envy.