WHO KILLED CHRIST?
Kathy Bernard - Publisher
LIKE Pontius Pilate over 2,000 years ago in the Gospel of St. Matthew, some of us wash our hands in our own personal bowls of purification and form conclusions that even today shadow judgment and culpability. The rhetoric concerning the crucifixion of Jesus continue to spill out through the centuries in various ways, with the most potent placing the blame on Jewish leaders of that period.
WHO really killed Jesus Christ? Do we believe that it was the Romans trying to appease the Jewish priests and cull their favor? Was Pontius Pilate afraid to antagonize Caesar because he held control? Pilate, a Roman governor, tried to shift responsibility onto Herod Antipas who was in Jerusalem during this time. Jesus was from Galilee and was under the jurisdiction of Herod. But Herod refused to take this obligation and sent Jesus back to Pilate.
WE are familiar with the treachery of Judas, who by a kiss allowed the Roman soldiers to bring Jesus up on charges before Pontius Pilate. Judas delivered Jesus into the hands of the enemy in violation of trust and allegiance to the man who loved and taught him about salvation. Paid for his job by thirty pieces of silver he, in a fit of conscience and betrayal flung the silver back to the Romans, later hanging himself when his conscience forced him to see his actions of deception. Pilate, looking at all sides of the issue and knowing that Jesus did not deserve death, offered alternatives to crucifixion such as severe beating. When he was faced with the anger of the crowds and warnings from his wife, he washed his hands of his guilt, silencing his uneasy conscience and allowing Roman soldiers to do whatever they wished to Jesus. However, it was his authority that sent Him to a Roman death.
JESUS was crucified by Roman soldiers, who used the cross, Romes most degrading and torturous form of execution versus the Jewish favorite capital punishment of ancient stoning. The Romans held the reins of authority during this time and had final say in the events leading up to and after the crucifixion of Christ and many believe if politics were not strongly imposed upon Pontius Pilate it could be believed he would have released Jesus when he was brought in for questioning and sentencing.
THEN was Pilate, a Roman, the guilty one? Pilate claimed innocence in the death of Jesus but in fact he was a weak figure whose will was manipulated by others. He was later removed from his office by Rome. And what about the Roman soldiers who took such delight in the cruelty and torture of Christ? One might excuse them on the basis of their doing their job under fear of censure but didn'tt it go beyond that? We must remember the greediness of the soldiers who cast lots for his coat.
DO we less charitably put the accountability squarely on the shoulders of the Jewish leaders of that time? Remember, Judaic law was held relevantly and Jesus, in their estimation was a Rebel Who defied all the religious laws they had held dear for many, many years. The Israelites fought to maintain their old laws, although their faith was clouded by disobedience to the very precepts they fought to keep.
PLACING emphasis on Jewish leaders in the death of Jesus became an inflammatory and detrimental picture while underestimating the major role of the Romans. There were many Jews who really loved Jesus and had complete trust in Him. They mourned His fate but the frantic demands, chaos and the angry clamor of those who sought His extinction overrode their best intentions to save Him. In addition to His disciples and His followers, there was Mary, His mother, Lazarus who brought back to life by Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, and Jewish Council member Joseph of Arimathea who gave up his own tomb for the burial of Jesus.
IT is true Jesus first came for the Jewish nation, but through God's grace and love all nations who believe share His tree of life as Christians. Keeping in mind, should we forget and feel too secure, we can also be taken off that tree of life by our hatred of others or by not obeying the commands set out for us as Christians. If we keep our prejudices alive, we are in great danger. (Read what Paul's powerful message to the Roman Christians has to say about this in Romans 11:1 -24)
IN the aftermath of the crucifixion the early years of Christianity became a battleground of prejudice and persecution causing fear and secrecy among worshippers. Jews began killing Jews who believed in Christ with Christians reversing that by slaughtering and killing Jews for not believing in Jesus Christ. Following Jesus' resurrection there began a strong religious upheaval ending in massacres and bloodshed done in the name of religion on both sides.
FROM the Torah and Tenach, we gained the Old Testament that came through the Israelites and we built on that legacy, believing in the Lord Jesus as the Messiah. In completion we have the death and saving resurrection of our Lord and the New Testament that is the written word of our faith. Hence the Israelites play a major and significant role in our own salvation for they gave us our foundation. With the advent of our Lord and acceptance of His salvation we have become part of His chosen elect. The love God extended to them and now to us carries over even today. Because of their faithfulness, albeit faulty in adherence to God's Law, He sent His son as a Jew to present the truth and mercy God still has for the Jewish people, however far they strayed, and even though some rejected Him, it was God's ultimate plan to include all people who are willing to accept salvation.( See Romans 11:26-31)
DID the Romans kill Jesus to appease the Jews because of their own politics and fears? Or was it the Jewish leaders with their fraudulent, deceitful and unfounded charges?
ARE we guilty? Lest we forget, our sin fingerprints are all over that crown of thorns, on the whips used on our Lord, on the nails that pierced His Hand, on the handle of the hammer that pushed them through, and on the cross that held Him. If our souls were not stained with sin, Jesus would not have had to suffer at the hands of his tormentors for our salvation. Like Judas and Peter we still continue to betray and deny Jesus. Each time we do not speak up in defense of our faith we deny Him so we are also instruments in His crucifixion. We, like the disciples of Christ, run away when we become fearful of the scorn of unbelievers . None of us, Jew, Gentile or the Romans of that day, or even the early Church is innocent of Christ' bloodshed. Throughout the existence of this earth we have sinned repeatedly. If we have not prayed for God's forgiveness we will stand in judgment before Almighty God with blood on our hands. And each time we sin, we keep re-nailing Jesus Christ to the cross even as He in loving grace and mercy forgives us. Keeping this in mind, to whom do we point our collective finger as to who killed our Lord?
WHEN Jesus cried out in his final moments of agony, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do, doesn't this apply to me and to you as well? By that blood we caused Him to shed because of our sins, it also becomes the purifier for our souls. Jesus willingly gave up His life for both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus said, "No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John. 10:18).
LOOKING down over 2,000 years at our brothers and sisters in Christ whether Jew or Gentile, we must be eternally grateful to the One Who came to save every single one of us if we accept Him.. God, through Jesus Christ our Savior, has promised this and He will never fall short of His Word. He cleansed us by His blood on the cross so we could be worthy to enter the perfection of God's holy kingdom. Why did He do this? We Christians know the answer. It is because of His eternal and powerful LOVE for me and for you, crossing the centuries FOREVER!
THANKS BE TO GOD!