John 18:28-32: “Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover.”
In this amazing scene, we see the corruption that occurs when politics and religion come together to oppose Jesus Christ. The religious and political leaders considered Jesus’ growing popularity and declarations to be the God over Judaism and King over Rome as a threat to their power. So, they formed an unholy alliance to execute Jesus.
All of this happens at night, under the cover of darkness, and in violation of the rule of law. The religious leaders refuse to enter the home of a Gentile for fear that it will make them ceremonially unclean for the Passover holy day. In this, we see six aspects of counterfeit religion:
- Religion is rule based not relationship based. Jesus Christ is standing before religious leaders, and rather than seeking a relationship with Him, all they want to do is judge Him for breaking their rules.
- Religion is outward and not inward. The religious leaders are worried about going into the home of a Gentile but not worried about the fact they are plotting to murder God in their hearts.
- Religion is about keeping yourself clean not Jesus making you clean. The religious leaders are so consumed by their purity that they overlook the obvious fact that by murdering Jesus they could not be more defiled and overlook the fact that He came to make unclean people clean.
- Religion makes you take yourself too seriously and Jesus too lightly. The religious leaders are determined to make Jesus suffer for not honoring them, and they fail to overlook the obvious mistake of dishonoring Him.
- Religion is about always being the teacher and never being the student. With none other than Jesus Christ standing before them, religious scholars don’t seek to learn anything from Him.
- Religion uses politics to establish a counterfeit Kingdom. The Jewish law allowed stoning of a person committing blasphemy, but the religious leaders wanted Jesus crucified since it was more shameful and painful. But, they did not have the legal right to crucify someone and so they use politics to achieve their ends. Their sin actually fulfills the prophecy that Jesus would be crucified (Psalm 22) as the Kingdom of God overcomes the counterfeit kingdom created by politics and religion.
Of these six signs of counterfeit religion, which one(s) are you most susceptible to?