Now it was the Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, after two days and the chief priests and the scholars searched for how seizing him by deceit they might kill him for they said, "Not at the feast or there'll be an outcry from the people."
- Mark's gospel
Mark specifies time (opportunity) and intent (motive) in these verses. But he also specifies those behind it all. The chief priests and scholars. And the people.
It would be tempting to create a tension between these two groups. In the red corner, we have the ivory tower priests and scholars, and in the blue corner, we have the working-for-a-living folks. Dear friend, we must resist that temptation. That would be far too easy. This is not Balboa and Creed.
Sure, the priests and scholars have the word "deceit" tied to their actions, but whatever "outcry" the people might have made would have been based on their infatuation with miracles. None are righteous, no not one. Only God is good.
I am them, aren't I Lord? By turns deceitful, I stealthily try to do away with you, the real you. I have stood and said the words over the bread and cup as priests do and in doing so I can reduce you to something I swallow or extend to others in bite-size amounts. I do the requisite work of reading primary sources so that at least a lower-case scholar I am and in doing so I keep you bound within the realm of footnotes; always at the bottom of the page in a much smaller script. And miracles? You know I daydream with the best of them of sudden windfalls and experience my faith rising when blessings are showered and falling when the well runs dry. I turn my nose at the health-and-wealth-gospel-woman-in-red, but if she knocked on my door, I'd let her in and welcome her advances.
I am the priest. I am the scholar. I am the people. It is early in the story and already I hear my cries of crucify, crucify! I fear they will only grow louder as I struggle against my rescuer.
"And often enough, when we think we are protecting ourselves, we are struggling against our rescuer. I know this, I have seen the truth of it with my own eyes, though I have not myself always managed to live by it, the Good Lord knows."
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson