HAYWIRE

What do you do when everything goes haywire?

When I was a kid, I helped farmers with their harvests for pocket change. I clearly remember working feverishly to bale hay and get it into the barn before a threatening storm hit us. Dark clouds kept getting closer and we worked even faster.

Then it happened! It wasn't the rain, but a tangle in the haywire! What a mess! We could have tried to untangle the wire, but teamwork would have only made matters worse. Fetching another roll of wire and replacing the tangled wire would have taken too long. There was nothing we could do but take the finished bales back to the barn and hope the storm would blow over.

Few people living today are familiar with haywire, but some outdoorsmen are familiar with tangled fish line. There are many experiences in life, however, in which things suddenly go "haywire." Our plans and efforts to accomplish something are foiled by an unexpected occurrence. We are forced to stop whatever we are doing and reassess the situation. "Now what!"

There may be several options, but continuing as planned is not one of them.

As Christians, we should consider the possibility that God is trying to tell us or teach us something. Sometimes our busy-ness gets in the way of what God desires. He may have attempted to get the message across in normal ways, but we were not listening, too intent on what we wanted.

It was like that in Babel when the people were so intent on making a name for themselves and building a tower that would reach the heavens. Suddenly, everything went haywire!

The High Priests, Pharisees, Sadducees and Herodians were never good friends, and none of them were happy about being subjected to Rome. Before the birth of Jesus, however, certain conditions and rules had been established that collectively gave them considerable control over the Jews. The Roman puppet ruler found it convenient to let these Jewish sects fight among themselves for political supremacy as long as they kept the rebellious Jews in line.

Then came Jesus. At first he was a curiosity. Rumors from a group of shepherds, the unusual visit of dignitaries from the East, and King Herod's violent reaction in killing a bunch of babies caused much discussion. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3). The Rabbis, motivated by Daniel's mathematical calculations, had been predicting the immanent appearance of the promised Messiah Prince and this news caused quite a stir.

When Jesus was twelve, that curiosity turned to amazement. It was Passover and all the important Jews were in the temple discussing theological, prophetic and political matters when this 12-year-old kid joined the group and started asking questions. Before long the priests, scribes and rabbis were asking him questions. They were confounded by his wisdom. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. (Luke 2:46-47).

Seventeen years of relative calm passed. Herod was building palaces and an impressive temple. Jewish leaders seemed to have everything under control. There was an odd-ball preacher out in the wilderness calling on the people to repent and be baptized. He claimed that God's kingdom was at hand. The Messiah was coming. And the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not (Luke 3:15). The Jewish leaders also took note. And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet? John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose (John 1:19-27).

The following day, Jesus was baptized. He selected 12 men to accompany him and began to declare everywhere that the kingdom of God had arrived. From that point on, things began to get uncomfortable for the Jewish leaders.

Jesus was the main topic of discussion in meetings of the Sanhedrin. At first they asked, "What shall we do?" They tried to trick Jesus into making wrong statements, but it always seemed to backfire. They accused him of disobeying their laws, but Jesus managed to turn the tables on them. He even overturned the tables of the money changers and sellers of sacrificial animals in the temple. They got desperate and tried to kill him, but Jesus always escaped. He just said, "My time is not yet come."

This animosity continued for three years, but shortly before the Passover, the High Priests and Pharisees became desperate and intent on eliminating Jesus. While they were plotting, Judas showed up with a plan. Their goal seemed within reach. For once, all religious parties worked feverishly together. Their efforts and cunning plans seemed successful. They worked up the crowds, and these coerced Pilate to turn Jesus over to the executioners. Jesus showed no signs of resisting even while he was being brutally persecuted.

On the 14th of Nisan about 9:00 a.m, Jesus was nailed to the cross. He died six hours later around 3:00 p.m.. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemas laid the lifeless body of Christ in a tomb.

For three years, things were going haywire for the Jewish leaders, but now things went haywire for the disciples. Where was God? Had Christ's enemies really succeeded in killing their Messiah? Gripped by fear, the disciples barricaded themselves in a room for three days and three nights.

The Jewish leaders sat down to enjoy their feast, but they couldn't get their minds off the events of the day. There was the solar eclipse that lasted three hours, a great earthquake and reports of the dead rising out of the graves and walking around the city! Most disturbing was news that the temple veil was rent in two from top to bottom, and that just prior to the Passover!

Rabbi Simeon, described this veil in the Mishna as follows: The veil was an handbreadth thick, and woven of seventy-two twisted plaits; each plait consisted of twenty-four threads. [The veil] was forty cubits long, and twenty wide (60 x 30 feet), and made of eighty-two myriads (the meaning is not clear). Two of these veils were made each year, and it took three hundred priests to immerse one.

That night they couldn't sleep. "What if the disciples should steal the body and claim that Jesus had risen from the dead?"

Early the next morning, 15th of Nisan, the Jewish leaders returned to Pilate and requested him to seal the tomb and send soldiers who would prevent the disciples from stealing the body. Saying, Sir, we remember what that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first (Matthew 27:63-64).

There was a deadly calm for a couple of days and suddenly, everything went haywire!

Ralph V Harvey, April, 2015