Tag Archives: hypocrisy

Whitewashed Tombs

“Whitewashed tombs”
A reflection on Matthew 23:27-32 and Romans 8:19-23
Wednesday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!

Matthew 23:27-32

The “Woes of the Pharisees” can be traced back to pre-Abrahamic, protohistorical roots in Cain (Matthew 23:35), and thus address the whole human race that has lost its simplicity. 

The earth itself has become a tomb on account of the first murder.

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let us go out in the field.” When they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord asked Cain, Where is your brother Abel? He answered, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” God then said: What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! Now you are banned from the ground that opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

Genesis 4:8-11

The cry of the earth and the cry of God go hand in hand. Adam and his progeny are at the center of the drama, which climaxes in the cry of the God-man-earth on the Cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). When Christ gave up his spirit, the Gospel of Matthew reports:

The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection, they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Matthew 27:51b-53

All creatures look to Christ and his brothers and sisters to lead them into the Promised Land.

For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:19-23

The Heart of the Sabbath

God reposing on the Sabbath day. Illustration from the first Russian engraved Bible (1696).

30th Week in Ordinary Time, Monday (Year II)

Ephesians 4:32—5:8; Luke 13:10-17 

“On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation” (Genesis 2:2-3). 

But Jesus answered them [on the Sabbath], “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work” (John 5:17).

What does it mean for God to be at rest or at work? Unlike creatures who conserve and expend energy, God’s being and action are continuous and simultaneous. 

“For God never ceases from making something or other; but, as it is the property of fire to burn, and of snow to chill, so also it is the property of God to be creating,” wrote Philo of Alexandria, the first-century Jewish philosopher (Allegorical Interpretation I.III).

God continually sustains all things in existence. If at any moment he withdrew, all things would fall into nothingness. “Work” and “rest” are one and the same thing for divinity. 

Mercy is at the heart of God’s being and action. We are called to be imitators of the Father, even on the Sabbath: Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Merciful actions flow from a merciful heart.

The Son of the God of Genesis, who “rested on the seventh day,” stepped out of the pages of the Torah and demonstrated what the words really mean.

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath. And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God (Luke 13:10-13).

St. Augustine allegorized the woman to “the whole human race” (Sermon 162B). The kingly and majestic Adam formed from clay became crippled and deformed by separating from God. Jesus took pity on the woman (and on humanity) and healed her. 

But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day” (Luke 13:14). 

The holy words of Scripture can be misused by the ill-intentioned. Even the tempter quoted it with great cunning in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).

The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?” When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him (Luke 13:15-17).

Religious and legal sophistries were unmasked by common sense: Why should mercy be shown to the animals and not to fellow human beings? Jesus lifted up the “daughter of Abraham,” and restored her dignity and stature. The common people “rejoiced” because they had compassion for their sister. The “humiliated” authorities, unable to sympathize, nursed wounded pride. 

Imitating God’s Sabbath rest means cultivating a merciful heart. 

Brothers and sisters: Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma… For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (Ephesians 4:32-5:2; 8).


More Precious than Sparrows

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday (Year II)

Luke 12:1-7

Meanwhile, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot.

Sounds like rush hour in a New York City subway. In another manuscript of Luke, the crowds were “choking each other.”1 The Gospel writer used hyperbole to emphasize Jesus’ growing popularity. 

Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven—that is, the hypocrisy—of the Pharisees. 

Leaven (zumé)—aged, sour dough often translated as “yeast”—symbolized the spreading influence of concealed evil in this passage. Like an invisible virus, hypocrisy (hupokrisis) infected the community and sickened the spirit with little detection. The status quo enabled authorities to carry out their religious observances masked in piety and honor. Leaders and followers participated in the same masquerade.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops.

Under the divine gaze, nothing is hidden. The ego-protecting buffer zone of human respect is an illusion. No barrier exists between God and creation. Every action, thought, word, and intention transpires in God who sustains all being. The communion of saints in the Trinity is utterly transparent and free. Jesus’ warning is a gift of divine mercy, as truth cleanses and purifies the soul for divine union.

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.

Hypocrisy and human respect flow from the same source: the fear of the judgment of neighbors. Carnal persons prioritize visible realities over invisible ones, public image over authenticity, the body over the soul. Bodily life is secondary to purity of heart; sin is worse than death. The martyrs proclaim that God alone is to be feared. 

Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”

Jesus’ warnings and rebukes are all gifts from a loving Father who desires our ultimate beatitude. From the greatest to the least, every child of God is invited to return to the Father in repentance and love. We are his beloved children.


1 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., The Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to Luke (X-XXIV), Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1985, p. 954.

Cosmic Temple, Cosmic Christ

Christ Pantocrator, Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Licensed by Andrew Shiva under CC BY-SA 4.0.

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Thursday (Year II)

Luke 11:47-54

“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1).

The curtains of the cosmic drama open with these words of Genesis, rolling out a lush garden of primordial integration when the whole of creation pulsated with divine light and energy. Ancient Hebrew cosmogony linked the ideas of cosmos and temple: 

“The heavens are my throne, the earth, my footstool. What house can you build for me? Where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1)

Before the Jerusalem Temple came to be, the Earth was the temple of God. Before the Hebrews came to be, Abel offered pleasing sacrifices to the Lord on the integrated altar-temple of his heart and the Earth, the dwelling place of God (Genesis 4:4). 

Cain dissociated the altar from the temple, his heart from the Earth, and committed fratricide (Genesis 4:8). 

Stabbed in the heart by Cain’s assault, the Earth opened her mouth and swallowed the body and blood of Abel, the first prophet (Genesis 4:10-11).

The Lord said: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!” (Luke 11:47-51)

Instead of cleansing their hearts and acquiring the holy spirit of the prophets, the children of the murderers silenced the voice of God with whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27), a respectable cover-up for their own violence. Jesus saw right through the tomb builders and unmasked their hypocrisy. 

We have an analogy in modern times: How well do we in America and around the world uphold the ideals of the heroes and heroines whom we honor? Do we pay homage to Abraham Lincoln but fail to examine our own hearts and that of our nation for racial bias? Do we laud Thomas Jefferson’s words that “all men are created equal,” but settle for institutional injustices? 

The prophets deserve to be honored. Jesus never sanctioned the destruction of their memorials. However, he challenged the tomb builders to go beyond paying external homage to conforming their own hearts to the spirit of the honored. 

From Abel to Zechariah, the voice of God was stamped out between the altar (thusiastérion) and the temple or “house” (oikos). The altar was “the meeting place between God and the true worshiper”—the human heart, ultimately, not just a manmade structure. “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13). 

In the yawning gulf between the altar and the temple, the heart and the Earth, fratricide after fratricide darkened the soil of our original clay with bloodshed. 

Christ, the high priest of his temple, would eventually be killed like all the prophets on the altar of the Cross in his kenotic obedience. Yet the Son of God is more than a prophet and a priest. His cosmic Body is the very temple of the Holy Spirit (John 2:20-21). Adoption by the Father through Christ, by baptism into his death, makes each person a temple of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 6:19). 

The Earth could not hold the Body and Blood of Christ in a tomb as she did Abel to Zechariah. On the third day, the Son of God rose and renewed the whole universe, deifying her and pulling her into the love of the Trinity.

A change of heart was not forthcoming from Jesus’ antagonists, however. They were righteous in their own eyes, and honoring the tombs of the righteous confirmed their righteousness. Jesus joined the voices of the prophets and decried their hypocrisy, precipitating their schemes.

Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say (Luke 11:52-54). 


The Indivisible Garden

Slavic icon of creation

28th Week in Ordinary Time, Wednesday (Year II)

Galatians 5:18-25; Psalm 1; Luke 11:37-41

When reality is one and undivided, the universe is a perfect mirror of the soul, and vice versa. An offering of a fragrant flower to the Father by Adam, the original gardener, was simultaneously an offering of love. 

Sin and division brought on the strange, sad scenario decried by Jesus: 

“Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others” (Luke 11:42).

In the bitter winter of the Fall, angry, willful gardeners till the rocky soil and offer herbs fragrant to the outer nostrils, but odious to the Spirit of God (Genesis 4:3-7). The inner garden and the outer garden are disconnected in our broken world. 

As Adam divided and split into the many, his progeny lived on the periphery of reality, fighting and vying for power and position. Individuals severed from the Indivisible Source scattered and created pecking orders. The dethronement of God in the center of the heart degenerated into self-seeking enthronement of the ego in the outer courts estranged from the Trinity in Unity:

“Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces” (Luke 11:43). 

In our wounded garden, a child may accidentally ingest a poisonous fruit because it looks sweet and enticing. The ignorant cannot tell the difference between edible and inedible plants. Hypocrites who look holy also cause stumbling and injury to those who encounter them:

“Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk” (Luke 11:44). 

The image of graves was particularly grave to the Hebrew mind as it signaled contamination. The pitiable Pharisees and lawyers were hampered by an ego blockage that created problems of hearing and sight. The divine voice trying to get through to them percolated through a screen of pride that turned every correction into insult:

Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too” (Luke 11:45). 

Another consequence of division is the inability to empathize. The scholars fell into the ivory tower syndrome of imposing laws and ordinances without experiencing their burden themselves. The blind masses were herded down into a pit by blind guides (Matthew 15:14).

And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them” (Luke 11:46).

Jesus’ mission to unite heaven and earth, God and man, spirit and matter, the inner and outer gardens culminated in his sending of the Spirit of truth from the Father (John 15:26). The promise of Pentecost is as revolutionary today as it was over two thousand years ago. The Law made flesh revitalized the interior garden with imperishable and eternal fruit, a sweet offering to God the Father:

“If you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit” (Galatians 5:18, 22-25).

“Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked…
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers” (Psalm 1:1, 3).


From Masks to the Trinity and Back Again

Ancient Greek theatrical mask of Zeus, replica. Licensed by Carole Raddato under CC BY-SA 2.0.

21st Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday (Year II)

Matthew 23:23-26

Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. But these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!” (Matthew 23:23-24)

What if hypocrisy was an impossibility, like squaring the circle? 

For starters, what are the conditions that make hypocrisy possible?

The word hypocrisy comes from the ancient Greek hypo- (“under”) + krinō (“I separate, judge, decide”). The PIE (Proto-Indo-European) root of krinō is krei- (to “sieve,” thus “discriminate, distinguish”). The overall sense of krei- is a splitting, dividing, or separating.

The original word did not have a negative meaning, but referred to a stage actor (hypokrites) in ancient Greece. A hypokrites was an interpreter of a character from underneath a mask. In modern usage, a hypocrite is a pretender who wears a mask to conceal what is underneath.

The substructure of hypocrisy is thus a split between appearance and reality. Individuals have the capacity to create personas (a word that originated in the Roman theater, meaning “mask”). 

Authentic encounter between persons is often conceived as “face to face.” Inauthentic encounter is “mask to mask.” Without spiritual X-ray vision, the “insides” (thoughts, feelings and intentions) of other persons are unknowable. Face and mask are difficult to disentangle in our four-dimensional world.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean” (Matthew 23:25-26).

An image from Edwin A. Abbott’s novella, Flatland, may serve to illustrate the conditions of hypocrisy. A two-dimensional square with only length and width has no thickness. Height (up-down) is not a category in his world. Since he cannot rise “above” Flatland, other polygons appear to him as a line (like the edge of a piece of paper). In effect, he is unable to see any figure, including himself, as it really is.

If the square acquired consciousness of height, he could “see” the insides (area) within the lines of other squares and polygons. 

Hidden subjectivities (the “inside of the cup”) are invisible to others who see only the “outside of cup and dish.” Hypocrisy deceives not only outsiders but the self. Posturing can lead to a false identification with a public persona or image.

But what if the interior of persons was as completely visible as the exterior? The disciples were amazed at Jesus’ discernment of hearts (Matthew 9:4; Luke 6:9). St. Philip Neri, St. John Vianney, St. Padre Pio and other saints of Christian East and West received the gift of reading hearts in order to guide people to holiness. This rare gift of the Holy Spirit is evidence of a higher, deified consciousness.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature… for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (I Samuel 16:7).

Nothing is hidden to the divine sight. Allowing the divine light to shine within, grace can form us into whole and integrated persons. Hypocrisy is not possible when inside and outside are illuminated perpetually by the divine and transfiguring light. 

The opacity of matter supplies the conditions for the possibility of masks and personas. The weakness of the inner, spiritual eye obstructs penetration through that opacity. What does integrated personhood look like?

Clues from the Trinity

The Trinity is the primordial source of personhood. Do the divine persons have hidden subjectivities unknown to the others? What is the difference in the Trinity between personal consciousness and the unified consciousness of the divine nature? Is there any difference?

The mysteries of theology so far exceed our language and philosophical categories that one is silenced in the face of them. Yet the conversation of the centuries invites dialogue with our forebears.

For example, the notions of intellect and will were located by the Church Councils not in persons but in natures. They did not use the modern word “consciousness.”

Each of the two natures in Christ possesses its own natural will and its own natural mode of operation. (De fide.)

That statement rules out a personal intellect and will. In other words, Father, Son and Holy Spirit have one intellect and one will, but the persons do not possess distinct intellects and wills.

The man Jesus Christ, however, has a will. That will is located in the individual substance of Christ. Jesus is not a human person (the heresy of Nestorianism). The assumption is that every human individual possesses a separate will. Yet, to be consistent with the dogma, that will is not personal but belongs rather to the individual substance of human nature/essence each person incarnates during their earthly sojourn. 

The problem arises: If the divine nature has a single intellect and will, does the human nature also have a single intellect and will (now or in eternity)? Current presuppositions rule out the idea that human nature has a single intellect and will in its present condition. It follows that human nature in its atomized state does not image the divine nature in this respect. It is splintered. 

When the splinters are unified in the Body of Christ, will there be unity of intellect and will? The logic of current dogma seems to require the Incarnate Christ to retain a separate, individual (not personal) will in perpetuity. If that is so, deified human nature would retain the character of atomization. “One mind and one will” in Christ, under this logic, means conformity of separate, individual (not personal) wills with the divine will. 

An alternative possibility is that the person of Christ, in his post-resurrection state, “waits” for the completion of his Body when separate human wills will be transformed into a single will. St. Paul seems to suggest that individual members complete what is still “lacking” in the Body of Christ:

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).

Distinguishing the notions of person, individual, and nature in the light of the Trinity is a thorny conundrum.  Since Christ is a divine, not human, person, it follows that personal identity transcends human nature. Because the saving work of Christ necessitated the assumption of human nature in its entirety, by implication Christology reveals that to be a person (divine or human) is to embody nature in its entirety. That would seem to rule out an eternal atomization of the human essence.

What then is the status of individual substances? If the person of Christ does not have an intellect and will of its own (either divine or human), what is the status of intellect and will in personal communion? Theology must account for Christ, in whom person cannot be equated with the individual human substance. 

The crux of the problem: The De fide statement about the two wills of Christ does not make a distinction between Christ’s individual human nature (substance = Jesus the man) and the universal human nature (essence). 

The following statements bear unraveling:

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus prayed to the Father, and according to dogma the “Father’s will” is not personal but the natural will of the divinity. The divine will is the single will of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “My will,” on the other hand, refers to the natural will of the man Jesus who is not a human person. Accordingly, Jesus was bringing into conformity with the divine will his will as man. 

Some modern theologians speak of “personal centers of consciousness” in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each divine “I” beholds the others in a “circular” movement (perichoresis). Whether we speak of “centers of consciousness” or a personal “I,” the vocabulary has shifted from the strictly dogmatic “intellect” and “will.” Creedal vocabulary has not incorporated the language of personal consciousness. 

The historical, creedal development of divine and human consciousness (intellect and will) terminated in the divine and human essences but did not reach personal consciousness. Further, as regards human consciousness, intellect and will were delimited within individual substances of the essence. Yet the person of Christ transcends both individual human substance and universal human essence. 

The patristic language of mutual indwelling (perichoresis and circumincession) came closest to approximating personal consciousness. By affirming distinct personal identities and the unmixed nature of their coinherence, it is possible to contemplate absolute diversity and absolute identity in simultaneity: The Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit, the Son is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is wholly in the Father and wholly in the Son. However, the formula leaves unexpressed the content of diversity. It does not answer the question: Are diversities distinctly conscious? 

The Council Fathers did not use modern vocabulary to discuss personal consciousness. The field of the personal in theology was largely unexplored and undeveloped. From Israel to the Church, divine unity has dominated theological thought. Primordial distinction and diversity remain opaque mysteries in both theology and philosophy. 


The questions posed above led to an unforeseen meandering that only unearthed more impenetrable enigmas. 

Back to the original question: What if hypocrisy was an impossibility, like squaring the circle? 

The theological notion of person (persona or prosopon) came from ancient mask theater but was purified for application to the divine identities. Father, Son and Holy Spirit have no interior or exterior, and therefore exist beyond the possibility of dissimulation.

Persons in the image of the Trinity, in a transfigured humanity, are also one beyond the distinctions of face and mask, inside and outside, hidden and manifest. Each person shines with a unique splendor and glory. What that unique distinction is remains to be discovered.


The Royal Image

9th Week in Ordinary Time, Tuesday

Mark 12:13-17

“Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?”

The Pharisees and the Herodians thought they had Jesus cornered. Popular political figures at the time like Judas the Gaulonite had rallied many devout Jews to view Caesar as an enemy of religion; God alone was their ruler. If Jesus answered “yes,” he would lose his followers. If he answered “no,” they could report him to the Roman authorities as a rebel and be rid of him.

Jesus was completely unfazed. He answered their question with another question. Looking at a Roman coin in their possession he asked, “Whose image and inscription is this?” Out of their own mouth came the reply, “Caesar’s.” Then came Jesus’ unforgettable response: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

It’s not that God is not sovereign over the whole world, but earthly governance also has its proper sphere. Render to earthly authorities what is theirs, Jesus says, but what is everlasting and permanent—your very persons—give to God. Earthly coins corrode and decay, but the image of God stamped upon you lasts forever. We are the coin of God (St. Augustine). God’s image and inscription are imprinted upon our humanity. 

The hypocrisy displayed in this episode came to its climax before Pontius Pilate when Jesus was handed over to be crucified. The chief priests themselves said, “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15)