The chief priests and scribes hold an emergency meeting
"Good afternoon, gentlemen. I trust we are all aware of our reason for meeting today? Good. The situation has escalated dramatically after yesterday's upheaval in the temple, and with the added pressure of the Passover feast at the end of the week, we simply must find a way of neutralising this man before he causes any more trouble. You all know how precarious our positions are already; the Romans need hardly any excuse to abolish Temple worship altogether - and I don't need to spell out what that would mean for us as scribes and high priests. We will not let this Jesus be that excuse.
"Now, our best option is to catch Jesus in either an outright blasphemy or a statement of revolution. So far he has been frustratingly careful, but we sent Joseph and Matthias to talk to him this morning. Joseph?"
"Thank you, High Priest. Yes, Matthias and I found Jesus in the Temple courts again - fortunately not overturning tables this time, but his preaching was drawing an alarmingly large number of people. It was hard to push our way through the crowd, but we finally got close enough to ask Jesus this question: Was his authority from heaven or men?"
"That's a good one, Joseph! There's no right answer to that, is there?"
"Exactly what we were hoping, Luke. The man is more cunning than you'd expect, though. He saw through it straight away, and fired another question right back at us. 'When John was baptising people - was that from God or not?' he asked. Well, you can picture the situation. We were surrounded by this crowd who all believe that John was a true prophet - it would have been as much as our life was worth to say that he was deluded. Yet it would stick in my gullet to own that rabble-rouser to be a holy man - and you know what Jesus' next question would have been, don't you? 'Well, why didn't you believe him then?' Matthias and I kept our mouths shut and made our exit as quick as we could."
"Am I to understand, then, that you failed in your mission to entrap this country rabbi? Two of the finest minds on this council were left shamefaced and dumb by some Nazarene upstart?"
"To be fair, High Priest, this Jesus has clearly been trained by the best, wherever he comes from. I heard him arguing later with some of the Sadducees, and I was blown away by his responses. They were worthy of the finest rabbinical masters."
"Thank you for that, Nicodemus. I'm glad to hear you are so enamoured of our friend's intelligence. Perhaps we will send you to ask him some questions next time. In the meantime, does anyone have any more useful suggestions?
"No? Well, it seems to me that our only hope now is to attract a defector from his side. Simeon, Luke, Zachariah - you spend the next few days mingling with his disciples, and pounce on anyone who seems to have the least bit of a grudge. We need to move quickly on this thing, but with the following that this wretched man still has, we simply can't just move in and arrest him in the middle of the Temple. The rest of you, keep your eyes and ears open. Let my secretary know immediately if you hear or see Jesus do anything that might give us some leverage.
"We will meet again tomorrow, gentlemen. Remember, Passover is the deadline. I need progress, and I need it now. Good afternoon to you all."
Mark 11: 27-33
Other Conversations from the Cross
1: The Donkey
2: The Commotion
4: The Anointing
5: The Betrayal
6: The Burial
7: The Precaution
8: The Resurrection