Pontius Pilate in the Gospel of St. Matthew, some wash their hands in their 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 forth through the centuries in various ways, with the most potent being 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 Caesar held control?
Pilate, a Roman governor, also tried to shift responsibility of what to do about Jesus
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. And so, each passed the proverbial buck back and forth.
WE are familiar with the
treachery of Judas, who by a kiss identified Jesus Christ and allowed the Jewish
leadership to bring Jesus up on charges before Pontius Pilate.He delivered Jesus into the hands of the enemy in
violation of trust and allegiance to the Man Who loved and taught him about salvation.Judas was paid for the job with thirty pieces of
silver but, in a fit of conscience, flung the silver back, then hunghimself in shame when his conscience forced him to
face his betrayal.
IT was a custom to release one
prisoner during Passover so Pilate, looking at all sides of the issue and knowing that
Jesus did not deserve death, offered alternatives to crucifixion. He asked the angry
crowd "Which man shall I release to you, Barabbas, (a noted thief and murderer) or
Jesus?" Now Pilate knew that the priests were envious of Jesus but was hoping the
crowd would chose to release Him. But the leaders and elders persuaded the crowd to
ask for the freedom of Barabbas.
FACED with the raucous voices
demanding that Jesus be crucified growing louder, and the pleading warnings from his wife
not to take part in killing an innocent Man, he publicly washed his hands of his guilt,
silencing his uneasy conscience and allowing Roman soldiers to do whatever they wished. His indecisiveness allowed Jesus to die.
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 now
held the reins of jurisdiction and had the final say in the events leading up to and after
the crucifixion of Christ. Many believe if politics were not strongly imposed
upon Pontius Pilate he would have released Jesus when he was brought in for
questioning and sentencing.
WAS Pilate, a Roman, the guilty one in the death of
Jesus Christ?Pilate claimed innocence but in
fact was a weak figure whose will was manipulated by others as shown later in his removal
from his office. 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
their brutality went beyond that.We must
not forget the greediness of the soldiers who cast lots for his coat, the crown of thorns
that was placed upon Jesus' head, or the vinegar offered on a spear instead of water as
Jesus was dying on the cross.
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 held sacred 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 and yet there were some 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 His mother Mary, Lazarus who was 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.
BUT were the Jews the guilty ones? Was it because
they clamored for His death and won?
LOOKING back to when Jesus first came as the Messiah for the Jewish nation, He
came as a Jew. And it was through God's grace and love, that we who believe in that
Jewish Messiah, have a share in His tree of life. Lest we forget and feel too
secure, we can also be taken off that tree of life by our hatred of those who established
the groundwork of our faith 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).
"Remember always that the foundation of our faith comes from the early
Israelites who were God's "chosen people".
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 our Messiah; as our Savior. 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 stray, 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)
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.
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?Was it Pilate who caused the crucifixion?
Was it Caesar? Was it the Roman soldiers with their inhumanity?
Who then, are the guilty ones?
KEEP in mind, 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.Even
today, like Judas and Peter, we still continue to betray and deny Jesus.Each time we do not speak up in defense of our
faith in Him we deny Him, as St. Peter did in fear, so we too are instruments in His
crucifixion. Like the disciples of Christ, we run away when we become afraid 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'
existence of this earth we have sinned repeatedly. Unless we pray for God's forgiveness we
will stand in judgment before Almighty God with blood on our hands.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 as those who
took part in His crucifixion?But the blood
we caused Him to shed because of past sin and future sin, has become the purifier for our
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 and
believe in Him with faith. God, through Jesus Christ our Savior, has promised this
and He never falls short of His Word. By His blood on the cross we are worthy to
enter the perfection of God's holy kingdom.
WHY did He
make this sacrifice?We Christians know the
answer. It is because of His eternal and powerful love for me and for you, and it
crosses the centuries to take us home to live FOREVER in His kingdom.
"In my Father's
house are many mansions;
if it were not so, I would have told you. I go
to prepare a place for you." - John 14:2
The following is a partial scene from
"The Passion of Christ." Be warned that it is
in graphic detail. Please use caution!
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