Why the Romans Crucified Jesus
Jesus was most likely crucified by the Roman authorities, who were in control of Israel and Palestine at the time, since he was viewed as a political danger by the authorities in Rome. It was inevitable that anyone who caused a commotion at the Temple, which served as a significant focal point of Jewish life and a symbol of Jewish national independence, would attract the attention of the rulers. I believe that Pilate, based on what we know about him from other sources, such as Josephus, a Jewish historian who lived during the time period, was a pretty brutal and effective ruler who would not allow the rise of resistance against Rome and his realm.
As a result, I believe they cooperated with the Roman authorities, but Pilate made the choice to crucify Jesus.
While there is a tendency to whitewash the Roman involvement, particularly in Luke’s Gospel, there is also a tendency to suggest that Christianity was not a politically dangerous movement and that whenever Roman authorities encountered it, they determined it to be so, that Christianity is not dangerous.
Harold W. Attridge is the Sterling Professor of Divinity at Yale Divinity School, where he has taught for over 30 years. He is a graduate of Boston College, Cambridge University, and Harvard University, and has served on the faculties of Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, the University of Notre Dame, and Yale Divinity School, where he served as dean from 2002 to 2012. He is married with two children and lives in New York City. Essays on John and Hebrews are only a few of examples of his writings (Mohr-Siebeck, 2010; repr., Baker, 2012).
BBC – Religions – Christianity: Who killed Jesus?
It is believed that no trial or death in history has had such a dramatic effect as Jesus’ trial and execution in Roman-occupied Jerusalem two thousand years ago. But, more importantly, was it an execution or a judicial murder, and who was to blame? Beginning with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, the tale opens with the Galilean rebelJesus, who is consciously fulfilling a prophesy in the Hebrew Bible about his advent as Messiah. He’s surrounded by a throng of admirers. Following that, Jesus enters the Temple, the center of Jewish Judaism, and assaults money-changers, accusing them of defiling a sacred space.
Jesus is captured in the Garden of Gethsemane and brought before Caiaphas before being judged by the Roman Governor. He has been sentenced to death and will be executed.
Caiaphas was in an advantageous position. Caiaphas was a master political manipulator and one of the most powerful men in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death. As High Priest of the Temple, he’d already lived 18 years (the average High Priest only lasts 4), and he’d formed a solid alliance with the Roman forces in control of the temple complex. Caiaphas was well-connected to everyone who mattered. At the time, he was the de-facto king of the whole Jewish community around the world, and he intended to maintain it that way.
This is the basis for the death penalty.
What were Caiaphas’ motives?
Caiaphas’ power was threatened by Jesus. Caiaphas could not afford to allow any upstart preacher to get away with challenging his authority, especially at such a sensitive time of year as Passover was approaching. This was the most important Jewish holiday, and academics estimate that over two and a half million Jews would have gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the occasion. Caiaphas did not want to be seen as a fool.
Jesus threatened Caiaphas’ relationship with Rome
Caiaphas’ power foundation was the Sanhedrin, the ultimate Jewish council that ruled over both civil and religious law in the time of Jesus. It was comprised of 71 members, the majority of whom were chief priests, and Caiaphas presided over its proceedings. There were enormous benefits for the effort, since contemporary archaeologists have revealed that Caiaphas and his companions lived luxurious lives in homes that were vast and elaborately adorned. However, the Sanhedrin was only able to rule because the Romans granted them permission, and the only way to keep the Romans pleased was to maintain order in society.
In other words, if Jesus was causing difficulty, it was causing trouble for both Caiaphas and Pilate – and trouble for Pilate was still trouble for Caiaphas, as well.
Jesus threatened the Temple’s income
Jesus was also posing a danger to a valuable source of revenue for the Temple’s priests. When it came to simple concerns like cleansing and the remission of sins, the Temple equipment brought in tremendous sums of money. Archaeologists have unearthed 150 mikvehs in the area surrounding the Temple of Solomon. Mikvehs are ceremonial baths that Jews take to cleanse themselves before participating in any religious activity. People who were ritually unclean could not enter the Temple, and practically everyone who arrived in Jerusalem for Passover was regarded to be ritually unclean.
- The mikvehs were under the supervision of the priests, who charged people to use them.
- Jesus felt the whole thing was a load of nonsense.
- The Temple’s apparatchiks have received some bad news.
- If this gets out of hand, it might spark a riot in the Temple.
- Jesus stormed into the Temple and accused the moneychangers and dealers of sacrificial doves of extortion and of turning the Temple into a den of thieves, according to the Gospel of Matthew.
- And God, as every Jew was well aware, has the authority to do so – he had shown this many times before.
Jesus was doing this in the Temple, in front of a large audience, and with no regard for Caiaphas or his staff in the least. He needed to do something to demonstrate that he was still in charge, and he needed to do it soon; Jesus was on a roll, and no one could predict what he would do next.
What Caiaphas did
You don’t get to be High Priest unless you’re capable of making difficult decisions and seeing them through to completion. A gathering of the chief priests was summoned by Caiaphas as it became clear that Jesus had to be stopped. According to Matthew’s Gospel, Caiaphas informed them that Jesus would have to be slain. This was something that the priests were not entirely certain about. If Jesus were to be executed, there may be rioting. Caiaphas, on the other hand, received his judgment and put it into effect immediately.
We may disapprove of certain of Caiaphas’ self-interested motivations, such as maintaining his wealth and power base, but this does not amount to a crime of any kind in our eyes.
The man was a well-known rebel, and he was risking public order at a time when enormous and turbulent crowds were thronging the streets of New York.
The rigged trial
Caiaphas had stepped over into the wrong side of the law at this point. He arranged the trial in his favor. Caiaphas took on the positions of chief judge and prosecuting attorney, which are often incompatible. Scholars are familiar with the laws that applied to Jewish trials during that time period, and the trial of Jesus defied several of those norms, including the following:
- It took place at night since Jewish trials were required to take place during the day. A feast day had been observed, which was not permitted. Despite the fact that it took place at Caiaphas’ house, it should have taken place in the council chamber.
Caiaphas’ trial did not go according to plan. To establish that Jesus had threatened to demolish the Temple, which would have been treason and an offense against God, he would have to produce evidence. The witnesses, on the other hand, couldn’t agree on what Jesus had said. As a result, the accusation was dismissed. Caiaphas made the decision to see if he could trick Jesus into saying something he shouldn’t have. He confronted Jesus with a direct question: “Are you the Son of God, the Son of the Most High, the Son of the Most Holy?
- It’s sufficient.
- The other members of the Court are in agreement.
- There was only one problem: the court lacked the authority to carry out executions.
- Actually, there are two issues: first, blasphemy against the God of the Jews was not considered a crime under Roman law, and second, unless Caiaphas can come up with anything better, it may not be enough to persuade the Romans to execute Jesus unless he can come up with something better.
Caiaphas was dismissed from office shortly after Jesus’ death and retired to his farm in Galilee, where he lived in peace.
The case against Pontius Pilate
What was Pilate’s reasoning for executing Jesus when he thought him to be guiltless? Pilate was the Governor of Judea, which was a province of the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ death. He had 6,000 crack troops with him and another 30,000 on standby in neighboring Syria, according to reports.
When it came to keeping Rome happy, Pilate had total authority, including the power of life and death, as long as he kept the peace with the people. The argument against Pilate is that he judged Jesus not guilty, but ordered his execution in order to maintain public order and maintain the peace.
The two Pilates
We don’t know what Pilate was like in his personal life. The Bible portrays him as a weak but innocent guy who did not want to put a man to death who he felt was innocent, but who caved in to political pressure because he was weak. Some historians, however, are of the opposite opinion. Philo, who was writing at the time, described Pilate as cold-blooded, harsh, and merciless. He was presumably a typical Roman with a contempt for any other civilization, believing that the Jews were not nearly as civilized as the Romans were.
What were Pilate’s motives?
Pilate was determined to maintain the status quo. His ability to administer the province smoothly and effectively was critical to his future advancement in the Roman Empire. He had 6,000 soldiers on standby to preserve the peace in a metropolis with a population of 2.5 million Jews, which he commanded. The religious leaders, whose cooperation he required in order to live a peaceful life, urged him to put Jesus to death, and there was an angry throng clamoring for Jesus’ blood. It was conceivable that releasing Jesus would have sparked a riot, and Pilate may have lost control of the city and probably the entire province.
No matter how little he cared for the people of Judea, Pilate was unable to avoid attending the most important event of the year, the Passover. The message of Passover was one that was guaranteed to cause consternation among those who were attempting to maintain control over the Jewish people, for it commemorated the moment when God transported the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Holy Land, allowing them to shake off foreign occupation. Consequently, it is no coincidence that practically all of the riots that we learn about in the first century took place around the festival of Pesach.
And because unrest in such a circumstance is contagious, Pilate realized that he would have to be harsh in order to put an end to any chaos that arose in the situation.
When Caiaphas brought Jesus before Pilate, it’s likely that he was completely unprepared for the dilemma that was about to confront him.
A trial for treason
Instead of beginning with the conviction for blasphemy, Caiaphas asserted that Jesus was guilty of sedition, which was later overturned. Caiaphas said that Jesus believed himself, or that his supporters believed, or that people believed that he was the King of the Jews. The crime against Rome was a capital offense, and Pilate was obligated to deal with it, whether he wanted to or not. The rumor spread quickly throughout Jerusalem, claiming that Jesus of Nazareth was being tried for his life. Crowds began to form, some of whom were undoubtedly members of a mob organized by the Temple officials; this was exactly what a Roman governor looking for a quiet Passover did not want.
- Jesus didn’t say much or didn’t say anything at all.
- There was just no proof to support Jesus’ claims.
- The ruling infuriated the audience, who erupted in chants calling for Jesus’ execution on the cross.
- The alternative, on the other hand, was the execution of an innocent man.
- In ancient times, there were Passover amnesty laws in place, which authorized the Roman governor to free a prisoner during the holiday.
- They called for Barabbas to be liberated from his prison cell.
In his verdict, Pilate pronounced Jesus to be innocent and sentenced him to death by crucifixion. In front of the throng, he symbolically washed his hands, as if to assure them that he was not responsible for Jesus’ death.
Pilate was summoned to Rome in order to face prosecution for his ruthless treatment of Jews, but the Emperor Tiberius died before the trial could take place, and Pilate was never prosecuted. It is believed that he committed suicide in 37 AD, not long after the crucifixion had taken place. In Christian belief, Pilate and his wife finally converted to Christianity, according to the Bible.
The case against Jesus
Did Jesus have any idea what he was getting himself into during the events leading up to his execution? Many scholars think that Jesus himself was the one most responsible for the killing of Jesus, more so than anybody else in history. There is a substantial amount of evidence to imply that everything he did was premeditated and that he was fully aware of the repercussions of his decisions.
Jesus had a genuine belief that he was on a mission from God, and everything he did was in the service of that mission’s fulfillment.
Acting out the prophecy of the Messiah
When it comes to the events of Holy Week, it appears that Jesus is purposefully carrying out the prophesy in Hebrew scripture about Israel’s rightful ruler, the anointed one, the Messiah, who would come at long last to be God’s agent to rescue Israel. Even while his entry in Jerusalem on a donkey was a fulfillment of prophecy, it would not have been sufficient reason to have Jesus crucified on its own.
Attacking the religious establishment
When Jesus arrived to the Temple, he began not just a direct attack on the moneychangers’ business activities, but also a symbolic attack on the structure of the Temple itself. Jesus was well-versed in the religious traditions of his day, and he was well aware of the potential ramifications of his acts. He understood what it meant to declare the Temple’s destruction and to assert that a new kingdom, the Kingdom of God, was developing in its place. Jesus was well aware that the authorities would take action against him in due course, and he was well aware that the penalty would almost certainly be death.
But Jesus continued to put himself in harm’s way, staying in Jerusalem and celebrating the Passover with his disciples despite the threat.
In the midst of their meal, Jesus alluded to the bread they were eating as his broken body, and the crimson wine they were drinking as his spilled blood, as he sat with his disciples.
One of the Gospels records Jesus telling Judas, “Do what you have to do, but don’t take too long doing it.”
Jesus sweats blood
The account of Jesus’ night in Gethsemane provides compelling medical evidence that lends credence to the argument that he understood exactly what he was doing. It was at this place that Jesus was struck with a terrifying sense of uncertainty – was death, after all, what God had planned for him? He pleaded with God to save him from his predicament. It was at that point, according to St. Luke, who was himself a doctor, that Jesus sweated droplets of blood into the path in front of him. Doctors are aware that little blood veins supply the sweat glands that are found throughout our bodies.
The medical word for this condition is haematohydrosis, which means “blood sweat.” If Jesus had known what he was in for, he would have been unable to endure the tension, which would have caused him to break out in hives and sweat blood.
So was Jesus guilty of his own death?
Not in the sense of remorse that the majority of people would comprehend. A soldier who embarks on a mission that is almost guaranteed to result in death is a brave guy, not a coward or a criminal. However, Jesus was not culpable in the same way that Caiaphas and Pilate were. He remained true to his calling, even though it resulted in death.
Who Killed Jesus?
In 1965, as part of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church issued the much-anticipated proclamation Nostra Aetate, which took a fresh look at the subject of Jewish blame for the execution of Jesus Christ. That modern-day Jews could not be held responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, and that not all Jews who were alive at the time of Jesus’ execution were guilty of the crime, according to the arguments in the paper. In the history of Christian views toward Jews, this was a significant step forward, as Christian anti-Semitism has long been predicated on the assumption that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion.
When Jesus was crucified, they thought that the Church would come out and claim that the Jews had had no role in his execution.
Jews Lacked A Motive for Killing Jesus
Indeed, most historians believe that it would have been more rational to place the responsibility for Jesus’ execution on the Romans. Crucifixion was a common form of punishment among the Romans, not among the Jews. At the time of Jesus’ execution, the Romans were enforcing a harsh and ruthless occupation on the Land of Israel, and the Jews had been rebellious at times throughout the occupation. The Romans would have had good cause to desire to silence Jesus, who had been dubbed “King of the Jews” by some of his disciples and was well-known as a Jewish upstart miracle worker at the time of his death.
The many factions of the Jewish society at the period — including the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and others — had numerous differences with one another, but none of the organizations orchestrated the death of the leaders of the other purportedly heretical sects.
READ: The History of the Land of Israel Under Roman Control Nonetheless, the notion that Jews murdered Jesus can be found in Christian foundational literature dating back to the early days of the Jesus movement, and it is unlikely that it will be readily abandoned simply because of historians’ arguments.
The New Testament Account
The notion that Jews assassinated Jesus is parodied in this 1896 cartoon, which substitutes Uncle Sam for the historical figure. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) “The Jews who killed the Lord, Jesus,” Paul writes in his writings, which are considered by historians to be the earliest works of the New Testament (written 10 to 20 years after Jesus’ death), and he addresses them very briefly: “the Jews who slaughtered the Lord, Jesus” (I Thessalonians 2:14-15). While the idea that the Jews bear primary responsibility for Jesus’ death is not central to Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ life and death, the idea that the Jews bear primary responsibility for Jesus’ death is more prominent in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each of which presents a slightly different account of Jesus’ life.
Eventually, the high priest comes to the conclusion that Jesus is guilty of blasphemy and petitions the Jewish council for guidance on how to punish him.
Matthew’s account of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross (referred to by Christians as “Jesus’ “passion”) has served as the inspiration for numerous books, plays, and musical compositions over the years, and it is a prominent part of Christian liturgy, particularly during the celebration of Easter.
It is said that Pontius Pilate, the Roman ruler of Judea, was fundamentally sympathetic to Jesus, but that he was unable to overcome the pressure from the Jews, who demanded that Jesus be put to death.
When Pilate arrives, the gathering members of the Jewish community tell him, “His blood be on us and on our children,” which is the most contentious verse in all of the passion accounts (Matthew 27:25).
According to Christian doctrine, succeeding generations of Jews are also guilty of deicide, the crime of murdering God, which was committed by their forefathers.
Church Fathers and Thereafter
An etching from 1845 portraying King Herod and Pontius Pilate exchanging handshakes. (Photo by F.A. Ludy courtesy of Wellcome Images/Wikimedia Commons) With even more clarity and power, this allegation emerges in the works of the Church Fathers, who are considered to be the most authoritative Christian theologians who lived after the New Testament period. After explaining to his Jewish interlocutor why the Jews had experienced exile and the destruction of their Temple, Justin Martyr (mid-second century) concludes that these “tribulations were justly placed on you since you have assassinated the Just One” (Jesus Christ) (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 16).
- A historical King Solomon addresses the Jews in “The Mystery of Adam,” a religious drama from the 12th century that prophesies that they would eventually slay the son of God, as depicted in the play.
- This statement is subject to verification.
- The masters of the law will be the ones who do this.
- They’ll descend from a tremendous height, and may they be comforted in their bereaved state of affairs.
- In recent times, passion plays — large-scale outdoor theater events that dramatize the end of Jesus’ life and frequently feature hundreds of actors — have continued to spread this notion, as have other forms of religious expression.
In the Talmud
It’s worth noting that the notion that the Jews assassinated Jesus may be found in Jewish religious literature as well. Against the evidence of theBabylonian Talmud, on folio 43a of tractateSanhedrin, aberaita (a doctrine dating back to before the year 200 C.E.) says that Jesus was executed by a Jewish tribunal for the crimes of sorcery and insurrection. For this reason, there is a blank area near the bottom of that folio in normal Talmuds from Eastern Europe — or in American Talmuds that simply copied from them — since the possibly offending text has been omitted.
This section has been restored in a number of recent Talmudic versions.) When the Talmud claims that the incident occurred on the eve of Passover, it follows the timeline given in the gospel of John, which is supported by historical evidence.
Responsibility for the killing of Jesus is also given to the Jews in Jewish folk literature, such as the popular scurrilous Jewish biography of Jesus,Toledot Yeshu (which may be as old as the fourth century), and in Christian folk fiction.
From the first through the nineteenth century, the degree of hostility between Jews and Christians was such that both parties believed the accusation that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus.
People who believe the tales of the New Testament (or of the Talmud) to be credible historical sources should not be shocked if this belief prevails. You may read this article in Spanish (leer en espaol) if you want to learn more about who killed Jesus.
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Why Did Pontius Pilate Have Jesus Executed?
“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asks Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of John, and Jesus responds with a question. It’s a question that may be raised regarding Pilate’s own personal background as well. According to the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the Roman ruler of Judea was a shaky judge who originally exonerated Jesus before bowing to the will of the multitude and condemned him to death as a result of his actions. Non-Biblical sources, on the other hand, present him as a barbaric commander who wilfully rejected the traditions of the Jewish people under his command.
WATCH: JESUS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE VaultJesus before Pilate, just before he was crucified.
Pilate’s early life is a mystery.
Before his time as Roman governor of Judea, from 26 and 36 A.D., nothing is known about Pilate’s early life and career. While most believe he was born into an equestrian family in Italy, certain tales indicate that he was actually born in the Scottish Highlands. From the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria emerges one of the earliest—and most damning—accounts of Pilate’s reign as governor. Around the year 50 A.D., he denounced the prefect for “briberies, insults, robberies, outrages and wanton injuries, executions without trial, constantly repeated, endless and extremely severe brutality,” among other things.
- Patterson describes Pilate’s rule as “corrupt and full of bribery.” Patterson is an early Christianity historian at Willamette University and the author of several books, including The Forgotten Creed: Christianity’s Original Struggle Against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism.
- “Philo is a really dramatic writer,” she observes, “and one who has very apparent biases: persons who maintain Jewish rules are documented in highly favorable ways, whereas people who do not uphold Jewish laws are represented in quite bad ways.
- MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: The Bible asserts that Jesus was a real person.
- Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus had been tortured, and this was the culmination of that suffering.
Pilate clashed with the Jewish population in Jerusalem.
A pair of golden shields emblazoned with the name of the Roman Emperor Tiberius were allowed into King Herod’s ancient residence in Jerusalem, according to Philo, despite Jewish tradition. Writing more than a half-century later, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus related a similar story, claiming that Pilate let troops bearing military standards with the likeness of the emperor into Jerusalem, despite Jewish law prohibiting the carrying of images in the holy city. A large number of people journeyed to the Judean city of Caesarea to express their displeasure, and they laid prostrate outside Pilate’s palace for five days until he finally yielded.
This account has the ring of a rookie governor experimenting with his powers and entirely underestimating the depth of local opposition to graven images.
Josephus related another event, this one with a bloodier conclusion, in which Pilate used cash from the Temple treasury to construct an aqueduct to provide water to Jerusalem.
They were successful. When he gave the signal, they withdrew clubs disguised in their clothing and beat many of the demonstrators to death with the clubs they had removed. More information may be found at: Where Is the Head of Saint John the Baptist?
The Gospels portray an indecisive Pilate.
Josephus also referred to Pilate’s well-known role in agreeing to Jesus’ death, which he had played previously. After being gravely concerned by his teachings, the Sanhedrin (an elite council of priestly and lay elders) arrested Jesus while he was celebrating the Jewish festival of Passover, according to the Gospels. They hauled Jesus before Pilate to be prosecuted for blasphemy, accusing him of claiming to be the King of the Jews, which they said was false. And they exerted pressure on Pilate, the only person who had the authority to sentence someone to death, to order his crucifixion.
According to the Gospel of Mark, Pilate intervened on Jesus’ behalf before caving in to the demands of the mob.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Discovering the Early Christian Church’s Conversion Tactics from Within “Mark’s goal isn’t truly historical in nature,” Patterson explains.
Mark blamed the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem for the city’s collapse since the high priests and officials had turned their backs on Jesus when he had arrived in the city.
courtesy of DeAgostini/Getty Images Following this, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Pilate washed his hands in front of the assembled throng before declaring, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; take care of yourself.” When the Jewish people heard this, they yelled out, “His blood be on us and our children.” For millennia, it would be used to punish the Jewish people, and it is still being utilized now.
As Bond explains, “Matthew claims that, while Romans were accountable for carrying out the action, the Jews were liable—a line of thought that, of course, has had fatal ramifications ever since.” When Jesus was making problems during a gathering like Passover, when the city was packed to capacity, I don’t believe Pilate would have spent much time worrying about what to do with him.
According to the Gospels, the people preferred the criminal Barabbas than Jesus.
The so-called custom of freeing a prisoner on Passover has been investigated by scholars, but so far, according to Patterson, “they have not discovered anything in regard to this so-called ritual.” More information may be found at: Early Christians Didn’t Always Take the Bible Literally (Discovery).
Pilate disappears from history after his rule.
Following the use of disproportionate force to quell a suspected Samaritan rebellion, Pilate was dismissed from office and transported back to Rome, according to Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus. Pilate vanished from the historical record as soon as he arrived in Rome. According to various legends, he was either executed by Emperor Caligula or committed suicide, with his remains being thrown into the Tiber River after his death. In fact, the early Christian author Tertullian said that Pilate had become a disciple of Jesus and had attempted to convert the emperor to Christian beliefs.
A portion of a carved stone with Pilate’s name and title etched in Latin on it was discovered face down in an antique theater, where it had been used as a stair.
According to a November 2018 article in Israel Exploration Journal, improved photography showed Pilate’s name engraved in Greek on a 2,000-year-old copper alloy ring recovered at Herodium, which was previously thought to be a Roman coin.
Who Killed Jesus? The Historical Context of Jesus’ Crucifixion
Approximately one-third of the academic debate over the circumstances of Jesus’ death concerns the subject of who was responsible for his arrest and crucifixion, according to the New Testament. Please be advised that by submitting your email address, you acknowledge and agree that you will get email messages from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214 USA) with information on products and services offered by the company and its affiliates. If you no longer wish to receive these email notifications, you may unsubscribe at any time.
- Who was the perpetrator?
- Historically, the Jewish leadership and the Jewish community in Jerusalem have been held accountable to the greatest extent possible.
- Recent scholarly tendencies have turned the focus away from the Greeks and toward the Romans.
- Contemporary academics accept that there is no either-or answer to this topic, but that both Jewish and Roman authorities must have had a role in the killing of Jesus at least in part.
- (The more typical Jewish mode of execution was stoning.) Evidence suggests that the Jewish Sanhedrin did not have the authority to carry out the death penalty at the time of the events described (John 18:31; y.
- 1:1; 7:2).
- At the same hand, what we know about Jesus’ teachings and behavior suggests that he was more likely than the Roman rulers to anger and irritate the Jewish religious leaders.
- Was Jesus executed for political motives or for religious reasons, as the case may be?
- Jesus’ execution was almost certainly motivated by the perceived danger that the religious and political forces of his day sensed in him.
Now, let’s take a look at the reasons behind their acts, their habits, and their policies. Pilate’s and the Romans’ reasons were different. The evidence leads to Jesus’ execution by the Romans as a result of his sedition, or insurrection against the Roman authority, as the conclusion.
- Initially, he was crucified in the role of “King of the Jews.” As previously stated in the last section, the titulus on the cross declaring this is very definitely historical in nature. Second, he was nailed to a cross between two “robbers” or “criminals,” which were names employed by the Romans to describe insurrectionists (Mark 15:27
- Matt. 27:38
- Luke 23:33
- John 19:18). In his stead, another insurrectionist, Barabbas, was freed (Mark 15:7
- Matthew 27:16
- Luke 23:19
- John 18:40)
- In addition, the following allegations presented before Pilate by the Sanhedrin are linked to sedition and are recorded in Luke’s Gospel: So they started accusing him, saying things like “We have discovered this individual who is corrupting our nation.'” As a Christian, he rejects the payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, the Son of God. Because of his preaching, he incites people all across Judea to action. He began his journey in Galilee and has traveled all the way to this place.” (Luke 23:2, 5
- Matthew 23:2).
In spite of the fact that this evidence verifies the indictment against Jesus, it begs the puzzling issue of why Jesus was killed in the first place, given that he had nothing in common with other rebels and insurrectionists of his day. Matthew 5:38–48 and Luke 6:27–36 both contain passages in which Jesus encourages his followers to love their adversaries and to react to suffering with acts of compassion. Moreover, he maintained the propriety of paying Caesar’s taxes (Mark 12:14, 17; Matt. 22:17, 21; Luke 20:22, 25).
- 10:34; Luke 22:36, 38).
- The fact that Jesus’ disciples were not picked up and murdered after his death, and were even permitted to create a religious community in Jerusalem, further demonstrates that Jesus was not regarded as instigating a violent revolt at the time.
- More information may be found in the following online course: The Historical and Cultural Context of Jesus’ Life and Ministry What was Pilate thinking when he ordered Jesus’ crucifixion?
- It has been established via various sources that Pilate’s administration was marked by a widespread contempt for his Jewish citizens and an unyielding repression of resistance.
- When Sejanus, an advisor to Emperor Tiberius, installed Pilate as governor of Judea in AD 26, it was a watershed moment in history.
Philip of Alexandria, a Jewish philosopher, provides an excellent illustration of Pilate’s precarious position when he writes about an incident in which Jews protested Pilate’s actions in placing golden shields in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem: “The Jews demonstrated against Pilate’s actions in placing golden shields in Herod’s palace in Jerusalem,” Philo writes.
As a result of his vindictiveness and enraged temper, he found himself in a terrible situation.
The warning from the Jewish leaders, “If you let this guy escape, you are no friend of Caesar,” (John 19:12), would almost certainly have made Pilate angry and fearful at the same time. Pilate was most likely motivated to order Jesus’ death by three factors:
- It appeased the Jewish authorities and, as a result, kept charges against him from reaching Rome. As a result, it preemptively neutralized any threat that Jesus may have posed if the people attempted to proclaim him king. Those who want to be prophets or messiahs were forcefully reminded that Rome would not tolerate any disagreement.
Jesus was met with fierce Jewish hostility. During Jesus’ Galilean career, he came up against a lot of resistance, much of which came from the Pharisees and their scribes. At the beginning of his final week in Jerusalem, Jesus faced strong resistance from the priestly hierarchy, which was under the authority of the high priest, as well as from the Sanhedrin, which was dominated by the Sadducees. The two most important institutions in Judaism were the Torah (the law) and the temple. Jesus appeared to be challenging both the authority of both and the legitimacy of both in the present day, posing a substantial danger to Israel’s leadership.
- Isaias claimed control over the law, disregarded the Sabbath mandate as though it were subordinate to human necessities, and accused the Pharisees of placing their oral law, which was nothing more than human traditions, above God’s instructions.
- The Pharisees, who considered themselves the legitimate protectors of Israel’s traditions, would have been enraged by Jesus’ declaration of the kingdom of God and his calling of twelve disciples, as well as by his proclamation of the kingdom of God.
- If Jesus’ remarks had been spoken in the midst of the seething cauldron of religion and politics that was first-century Palestine, they would have met with fierce hostility.
- In reality, the cleansing of the temple by Jesus is commonly regarded as the pivotal event that prompted the Jewish rulers to take action against the Messiah.
- In Mark’s account of Jesus’ Jewish trial, “false witnesses” are called forward who swear that they heard Jesus proclaim, “I will destroy this man-built temple and in three days will construct another, not made by man,” among other things.
- and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Mighty One, coming on the clouds of heaven.” “I am.” says Jesus.
- According to Mark 14:58–65, the entire assembly demands for his execution (cf.
- 26:55–68; and Luke 22:66–71).
- For example, the Mishnah declares that it is forbidden for the Sanhedrin to convene at night, on the eve of Passover, or at the residence of the high priest during the holiday.
A second hearing would also have been required for a death sentence, and a charge of blasphemy could only be upheld if Jesus had pronounced the divine name of God during the course of the trial (m. Sanh. 4:1; 5:5; 7:5; 11:2). This argument is not persuasive for the following four reasons:
- First and foremost, the processes outlined in the Mishnah were codified in AD 200 and may not all date back to the time of Jesus
- Second, the procedures outlined in the Mishnah were codified in AD 200 and may not all date back to the time of Jesus. For starters, even though they are ancient texts dating back to the first century, they reflect a hypothetical circumstance that may or may not have been replicated in Jesus’ life. The existence of rules indicates that there have been abuses in the past. It is possible that they were established as a result of fraudulent trials such as this one. In addition, while the Mishnah preserves mostly Pharisaic traditions, it was the Sadducees who dominated the Sanhedrin during Jesus’ time. There is strong evidence that blasphemy was occasionally employed in Judaism in a more general meaning than pronouncing the holy name, and that activities such as idolatry, conceited scorn for God, or criticizing his chosen leaders were often considered blasphemy.
After closer examination, Mark’s trial account makes perfect sense when viewed in the context of Jesus’ teaching and healing ministry. Jesus’ temple action would naturally have prompted the high priest to ask if he was making a messianic claim. Jesus’ response combines two key Old Testament passages, Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13. The first indicates that Jesus will be vindicated by God and exalted to a position at his right hand. The latter suggests Jesus will receive sovereign authority to judge the enemies of God.
- Such an outrageous claim was blasphemous to the body, which viewed itself as God’s appointed leadership, the guardians of his holy temple.
- Such a challenge demanded a response.
- Jesus’ actions in the temple—probably viewed by the Sanhedrin as an act of sacrilege—together with his popularity among the people, made it imperative to act against him quickly and decisively.
- The earlier words of the Pharisees and chief priests in John are plausible in this scenario: “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:48).
- The Sanhedrin therefore turned Jesus over to Pilate, modifying their religious charges to political ones—sedition and claiming to be a king in opposition to Caesar—and gaining from Pilate a capital sentence.
- Plus, you’ll get occasional updates about new courses, free videos, and other valuable resources.* See Philo,Legum allegoriae302f.
- Pilate was eventually recalled to Rome in AD 36 after a typically ruthless military action against the Samaritans (Josephus,Ant.18.4.2 §§85–87).
- Watch a free preview: This post is adapted from material found in theFour Portraits, One Jesus online course, taught by Mark Strauss.
Who Really Killed Jesus?
The subject of who is ultimately accountable for the murder of Jesus has long been a source of heated dispute among Christians. That it is such a contentious issue is because it has been used as a justification for anti-Semitism on a large scale in the past.
The fact is that assigning blame for Christ’s death to a single organization or individual is extremely difficult to do. But let’s take a look at some of the places where accountability falls.
There’s no denying that Jesus died in a manner that was uniquely Roman in nature. While Rome did not develop the act of crucifixion, they did make it more efficient and effective. Under the supervision of the Romans, what began as a way of humiliating offenders by nailing them to a tree or a stake became a far more effective method of punishment. Jews did not (and were not permitted to) crucify anybody under any circumstances. Rather of beheaded, they were stoned, which was a more ancient method of execution.
Not only were the Romans accountable for Jesus’ crucifixion, but they were also responsible for much of the suffering and humiliation that surrounded His execution.
- Stabbed Him in the back to ensure He was dead (Matthew 27:26)
- Mocked Him (Matthew 27:27–31)
- Gambled for His clothing (Matthew 27:35)
- Gave him vinegar to drink (Matthew 27:47–49)
- Flogged Him to ensure He was dead (Matthew 27:26–31)
- Stabbed Him in the back to guarantee He was dead (Matthew 27:47–49)
It is impossible to acquit the Romans of their role in Jesus’ crucifixion. They must be held accountable.
There is no doubt that the Jewish rulers were the source of practically all of Jesus’ hostility. They viewed Him as a direct challenge to the Law and to their power in general. The final nail in the coffin appears to have been the cleaning of the temple. It seems that this conduct, along with the raucous greeting Jesus got when He rode into Jerusalem, had inflamed the religious officials’ feelings. It was even necessary for the Sanhedrin to provide false witnesses at Christ’s trial for blasphemy in order to assure a guilty verdict: “We heard him declare, ‘I will destroy this temple built with human hands and in three days will construct another, not fashioned with human hands.'” Even still, their testimonies did not corroborate one another.
- Was this testimony that these folks are presenting against you true and accurate?” But Jesus stayed deafeningly silent and didn’t say anything.
- “I am,” Jesus stated emphatically.
- The high priest ripped his clothing to shreds.
- “You’ve heard the blasphemy, haven’t you?
Although Paul is himself a Jew, his epistle to the Thessalonian church appears to place the blame squarely on the Jews’ shoulders, as follows: “In order to become imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus, you, brothers and sisters, became: You suffered at the hands of your own people in the same way that those churches suffered at the hands of the Jews who slaughtered the Lord Jesus and the prophets and drove us out of their lands.
They are displeasing to God and unfriendly to everyone around them “14–15; I Thessalonians 2:14–15; Peter, on the other hand, assigns equal responsibility in his speech at Pentecost.
It was God’s purposeful design and foresight that brought you into contact with this man; you, with the assistance of evil men, executed him by nailing him to the cross “(See Acts 2:22–23.)
The fact is that it makes no difference who ordered Jesus’ execution. Each of us has some responsibility for His death. Jesus was crucified in order to atone for all of our sins. “Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not just for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world,” the disciple John writes in his first Epistle (1 John 2:2). As a result of Christ’s death, we are both the cause of and the beneficiaries of it. Because Jesus was crucified as a result of the sin of everyone who has ever lived, it is pointless to point fingers at any one individual as being personally culpable.
Fortunately, the gospel tale did not come to a close on a depressing note with the crucifixion.
It doesn’t matter who killed Jesus; what counts is that death has been overcome once and for all through the cross.