This is your hour and the power of darkness.
Jesus’ brief statement to the chief priests, elders and temple officers was the complete explanation for the insanity of his arrest and murder.
The chief priests and elders thought they were, and presented themselves as, smarter and better than others. One of them once said to God, “I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector” (Luke 18:11).
On the other hand, the temple officers just followed orders. Whatever the chief priests and elders told them to do, they did. Whoever they were told was bad and should be harassed, threatened, beaten and arrested, they harassed, threatened, beat and arrested.
But they — priests, elders, and officers — were all manipulated by Satan, “the power of darkness.” Some were literally possessed by demons. Many did not realize Satan was using them. But wittingly or unwittingly, they were all Satan’s agents. Jesus had earlier warned them of this terrifying reality: “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires” (John 8:44).
Yet, for a short period of time, God allowed them to be societal leaders: “This is your hour.” Their opinions and policies shaped their society. Because of that, darkness reigned. Because of that, Jesus was opposed, arrested and murdered.
Jesus’ brief statement is more than an explanation for the insanity of his day, however. It is also an explanation of the increasingly cultural insanity and anti-Christian sentiment in our own country. We “do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). It is still true today that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).
The high priests and elders of our country go by different titles but still serve the same function as they did in Jesus’ day. They may be called professor, media personality or politician. They are societal leaders, culture shapers and policymakers.
Their officers are all those people who simply follow their orders and count as good whatever they are told is good and as bad whatever they are told is bad.
The fact that this is their hour and the power of darkness explains the cultural insanity and the irrational and deceitful opposition to Christianity in our day. It also explains how people like these high priests and elders can even get into positions of power and prestige.
Therefore, all true believers must sober-mindedly heed Jesus’ admonition “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16). We must recognize the real situation we are in — sheep in the midst of wolves. It is extremely dangerous to the local church, the Christian family and every individual Christian to deny or be naive to this contemporary fact.
Mark Judy is pastor of Hancock Reformed Baptist Church. He holds master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.