“Surely you have not been deceived too, have you?”
No one likes to have the wool pulled over their eyes, and even worse, to have someone who is “higher up the ladder” question if that’s what’s happened to you. This is the very situation that the temple police find themselves in when they report back to the chief priest and Pharisees that they have not arrested Jesus as they were commanded to do. The quote above (which comes from the gospel lesson from today’s Daily Office lectionary) is how the chief priests and Pharisees react to the temple police coming back empty-handed.
One evening at a company year-end party I found myself staring straight down the barrel of this same question. At the other end was our global CEO. I was a mere sales manager and the CEO had found out that I went to church. I learned in short order that night, and rather forcefully, that he was a staunch atheist. “You don’t really believe all of that stuff do you? I mean, how could you? You live, you die and that’s that. God? Jesus? How anyone could be fooled by Christianity is beyond me.”
For many, the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is too much to believe. The idea that the God who created the universe and all that is, would decide on purpose to become one of the created beings…and then die at the hands of members of that creation…all for the transgressions of that creation…is a bit much to swallow. The harsh, condescending words of the chief priests and Pharisees ring out, “Surely you have not been deceived, too have you?” If we apply the black and white, cut and dry logic of the world Jesus (the man, the historical figure, the God enfleshed, the concept, etc.) doesn’t make much sense. As Paul writes to the Corinthians (in the epistle reading from the Eucharist lectionary for today), “For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18)
Faith is not an easy undertaking; and faith requires us to stretch our hearts, minds and imaginations beyond the requirements of belief in things worldly. Faith in the salvific power of Jesus requires an open heart and a belief that we humans are not the ones in control of the show here on earth, or in heaven. We can make some further sense of Jesus if we look at his life, actions, death and resurrection through the lens of true love. True love is stronger than our own selfish desires, makes us reach out beyond the limits of ourselves in generosity, kindness, giving all for the one whom we love.
Have we been deceived? Have we dabbled in foolishness? No. We have responded to the fact that we have been truly and completely loved.