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The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even then their testimony did not agree. Mark 14:55-59What were they looking for? What had made them so upset that they dragged this teacher to the high priest's place at night and tried him in a kangaroo court? Why were they so fearful and angry that they were willing to kill a man who had a significant following and had done no harm to anyone?
He had threatened the temple.
Consider that there is, in most tribes, a flashpoint: something symbolic that you can't touch or threaten without making them fiercely angry, without it possibly resulting in violence. With conservative Muslims, it's the prophet. With Americans, it might be the flag. With the men of the dorm at my university, it's the Omicron Pi Sigma seal set into the floor of the lobby. (It was one of our low points, one year, when a young squirrely upstart dared to jump up and down on it, taunting, and the dorm men nabbed him and shaved his head.)
In actuality, Jesus had said while standing in the temple courts, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." But the temple was their flashpoint. Put the words "destroy" and "temple" in the same sentence, and the leaders of this tribe saw red.
Jesus would have known that. So why did he say it? Because there was something bigger than their icon, something all-important. God. Bigger than a landmark, bigger than a place of worship, bigger than celebrity, bigger than the fundamental beliefs of any religion. Love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength (and your neighbor as yourself, by the way).
So let's say that Jesus showed up today and named the flashpoint for Christians? What if he wanted us to know that God is bigger than our attachment to some icon? What "icon" would he name?
In my tribe the flashpoint would be the Bible, with all our associated traditions and rules. What if Jesus said, "Your Bible is transitory. Your traditions aren't important. All that matters is that you love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength"? I think that would raise a notable ruckus. But I think the record shows he said exactly that when asked, "What is the greatest commandment?"
More and more, I want to know what it means to live by that one rule, nothing else: Love. God.
[And for this, I hope to not be stoned.]