(Note: This is the second and concluding segment in a two part series. The first segment sketched the outline of an important lesson in the most useful "science of human nature" through what some say is the greatest story ever told. Christ’s provocative ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday posed a potentially serious problem to Roman authority. The dilemma logically devolved to the local Jewish authorities.)
How does the story of Christ perfectly demonstrate an important lesson in the most useful "science of human nature?" How does it equally demonstrate the necessary characteristics of leadership?
In a nutshell, the dilemma for the Jewish authorities was this. If Christ could lead a rebellion, which would culminate in the overthrow of Roman authority with their assistance, then they could conveniently ride Christ’s coattails. Their own authoritative status within the new power structure would remain intact, maybe even increase. However, should the rebellion be crushed, then their fate would certainly be the same. The stakes could not have been higher for them. So, they questioned Christ.
“Where is your army?” the Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to know, more than just out of mere curiosity.
“I have no army” was Christ’s succinct reply. “My kingdom is not of this earth. My kingdom is the kingdom of heaven.” This response was dubious, failing to inspire confidence in the Pharisees and Sadducees, who could not rest easily.
In the interim, the devil would tempt Christ, offering anything he desired to reject his Father’s plan for man’s salvation. Rejecting this supreme temptation, in what can only be labeled a sheer test of will, Christ continued: “I will tear down the temple in one day, and re-build it in three.” Christ was, of course, referring to his upcoming crucifixion, death and resurrection, to follow during the course of events over the ensuing week. But, the Pharisees and Sadducees were yet to know this.
They quickly summed up the earthly situation and concluded that Christ was probably out of his mind. The Pharisees and Sadducees were certainly reasonable men and made a fateful decision. They said they must choose the military power of
over the popular yet enigmatic and
army-less Christ, “for the sake of
the nation.” Left unsaid was the fact
that they were simply acting reasonably in their own best interest.. Rome
In human terms, the decision was not difficult. They were not going to do something silly like risk their exalted place in Jewish society. They were not going down with the ship. In reality, they were sacrificing Christ to preserve their own status. It was convenient. It was expedient. It’s what human beings typically do. It's an important lesson in the most useful science of human nature. Pilate would not interfere with an internal decision of the Jewish people.
Christ was also aware that one of his own 12 disciples, Judas, accepted money to betray him. Moreover, when the heat was really turned up, the situation still fluid, Peter, the rock upon which Christ would subsequently build his Christian church, denied knowing him on 3 separate occasions in rapid sequence. After all, Peter had reasonably concluded that Christ’s fate would be his as well, had he simply admitted knowing him. Again, here was an example of a reasonable man, acting reasonably in his own best interest. The rest, as they say, is history.
But then there was that remarkable close: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” Christ did not blame them, as we mere mortals are prone to do. He forgave them instead. To understand what leadership is, the ordinary citizen doesn’t have to look beyond the example of Christ: deny yourself, to advance a just cause, by the example of your actions.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?