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Who Killed Jesus?

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  • Who Killed Jesus?

    Part One

    I would like to share the following with everyone here.

    For the last two millennia the Jews have been blamed for having forced the Romans to crucify Jesus. But the facts as plainly reported in the Gospels clearly show that the Jewish people had nothing at all to do with the crucifixion.

    Please all me to take you, step by step, chapter and verse, through the last four days of the life of Jesus, before his arrest, as reported in the King James Version of the Bible. (Italicized for emphasis)
    Matt 21:5-13: "Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.' The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon. Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him shouted, 'Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna to the highest!' And when he entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, 'Who is this?' And the crowds said, 'This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth of Galilee.' And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer' but you make it a den of robbers."
    (Footnote: the expression "mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass" is a rhetorical figure of speech often used in ancient Semite writings called a hendiady in which two words connected by a copulative conjunction express one single idea. It would of course be physically impossible for Jesus to have been mounted simultaneously on an ass and its colt. The inability of the mostly GrecoRoman authors of the Gospels to understand the Hebrew language or culture gives rise to Jesus often being depicted as riding on one ass while leading its colt.)

    This passage does prove beyond any doubt that the Jewish people did accept Jesus, he who "...comes in the name of the Lord." The Jewish people did not believe their Messiah would be the actual divine son of God, only the Anointed One, the king who was prophesied to drive out the Roman oppressors and reestablish God's kingdom on Earth.

    Another interesting section is at the end of this biblical citation, where Jesus drives the money-changers out of the temple. Even though this particular story has no real relevance to the content of this article, it does raise some questions. First, the business was actually conducted in the forecourt, which was not part of the sacred precincts of the temple. Second, the venders and money changers served a necessary function. The Jews, unlike modern Christians, actually did believe in and obey the Second Commandment prohibiting graven images. Caesar's image was on the Roman money, and Jews wishing to make sacrificial offerings to the temple had to exchange the Roman money for temple gold which had no graven image. As for the venders, Jews at that time still obeyed God's commands concerning animal sacrifice. Many traveled great distances and it would not have been practical for them to bring these animals with them so they purchased them at the stalls in the temple forecourt. The temple priests and their Roman masters were getting their cut from the action, but for Jesus, who had often preached at the temple and was familiar with the practice of obtaining suitable sacrifices, to suddenly act in this manner is quite mysterious. No doubt there was some kind of serious disturbance at the temple forecourt, but its exact nature and cause must remain a mystery. It is very likely that whatever happened, it had a direct bearing on his subsequent arrest, trial, conviction and crucifixion.

  • #2
    Part Two

    That there was a plot by the Jewish priests and elders to do away with Jesus is mentioned several times in all four Gospels, but all such notices indicate Jesus' acceptance by the Jewish people themselves as their Messiah who would lead them in driving out the Roman oppressors. For this reason, the priests and elders are described as plotting to take Jesus at night lest the people interfere. For just one of these several notices:
    Mark 14:1-2: "It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him; for they said, 'Not during the feast, lest there be a tumult of the people." See this: The chief priests and scribes wanted Jesus gone, but were afraid to do anything about it for fear of the reaction of the Jewish people.

    Mark 14:43-49: "And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, 'The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him and lead him away under guard.' And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, 'Master!' And he kissed him. And they laid hands on him and seized him. But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. And Jesus said to them, 'Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled."
    This passage is remarkable for three reasons. First, it reestablishes that the Jewish people as a whole had no part in what was happening. If there were actually any Jews involved in the arrest it was the priests, scribes and elders acting in secret out of fear of the consequences of arresting Jesus in public. Second, it reestablishes what is mentioned above concerning the incident in the temple forecourt: Jesus was 'day after day with you in the temple teaching' so he did indeed know about the commerce in animals for sacrifice and the changing of Roman gold for temple gold and had done nothing about it prior to the last week of his life.

    Another interesting question: If the priests, scribes and elders knew Jesus and had seen him preach at the temple, why would they need Judas to make an identification? The probable fact, which is reported in some editions of the Bible, is that Jesus was actually arrested by Roman soldiers and not by a mob led by the Jewish elders. Many legitimate and highly respected scholars believe the "Judas" story to have been a later addition by the Gospel authors to further fix blame for the crucifixion on the Jews and exonerate the Romans during their crusade to convert the Romans to Christianity.

    Further in this chapter of Mark, we find what is an incredible account of the trial of Jesus before the assembly of the Jewish council. Please remember, this council consisted of the same people who sought to destroy Jesus.
    Mark 14:53-64: "And they led Jesus to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes were assembled. And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the guards, and warming himself at the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus to put him to death but they found none. For many bore false witness against him, and their witnesses did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 'We heard him say, "I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands." Yet not even so did their testimony agree. And the high priest stood up in their midst, and asked Jesus, 'Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?' But he was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, 'Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' And Jesus said, 'I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.' And the high priest tore his garments, and said, 'Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?' And they all condemned him as deserving death."
    There are a number of elements in these passages that give rise to the need for serious consideration. First and foremost, the same council that had been conspiring to get rid of Jesus arranged for false testimony, then refused to accept it. Being unable to find any reason to convict him even with the perjured testimony they themselves had arranged for, they asked him if he was the Christ, the Son of the Blessed. This could be interpreted as asking him if he was the Messiah, the anointed son of God as prophesied in OT scriptures, but it can as easily be interpreted as asking him if he was in fact the divine son of God. The first interpretation would not be blasphemy; anyone could claim to be the long awaited prophesied Messiah. But claiming to be the literal and divine son of God would indeed be blasphemy punishable by death according to Jewish law.

    We next have Jesus being taken by the Jewish elders and priests on to Pilate for judgment and execution for blasphemy. Pilate was a Roman governor who distrusted, despised and persecuted the Jewish people and was hated by them. Many of the non biblical documents of the time relate how Pilate was prone to execute anyone who was perceived as even a possible threat to Roman rule. It was Pilate and the Romans that the Messiah was prophesied to overthrow and drive out of Jerusalem. During Pilate's reign literally thousands of real or suspected revolutionaries were crucified.

    For further consideration: any Jew who turned another Jew over to the Romans would immediately become a target for assassination by the Zealots, the Jewish underground freedom fighters mentioned several times in the Gospels, and this would apply to the priests and elders as well as to any common citizen.

    The Roman government had no interest whatsoever in the religious beliefs of their subjects. They themselves had myriads of gods, as did all the many people of the nations they governed. Belief or disbelief in any particular religious dogma was of no interest to the Romans as long as it did not present a threat to Roman rule. The Jewish elders themselves dealt with violations of Jewish religious law. Pilate's only interest was in the maintaining of Roman rule and eliminating the possibility of revolt or insurrection.


    • #3
      Part three

      Some claim that the Jewish council had to take Jesus to Pilate for execution because the Jews were forbidden to execute anyone themselves. This is not true. Jews could and did execute by stoning anyone who violated Jewish law: adultery for just one example, blasphemy for another. Romans executed Jews by crucifixion only for advocating insurrection against Roman law or committing crimes against Roman citizens. They did not crucify Jews for crimes committed against other Jews or for blasphemy against the Jewish religion. This is clearly stated at:
      John 8:3-7: "The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst, they said to him, 'Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now the law of Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?' This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, 'Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her."
      The "test" they referred to was to trick Jesus into publicly opposing the adulteress' execution so they could claim that he had violated the law of Moses, which would have been blasphemy. It was Jewish law at the time that the accuser or aggrieved person cast the first stone in an execution. Jesus cleverly turned this around to require someone without sin to cast the first stone. But the essential point is made: the Jews could and did execute by stoning for violation of Jewish religious law.

      Getting back to the main story, Jesus had admitted to the Jewish council that he was the Son of God which was blasphemy against the Jewish religion but not a crime against the Romans. He did not admit to that council that he was their king even though he had identified himself as such when he first entered Jerusalem. If he had claimed that he was the king of the Jews, that would have been a serious crime against Roman rule but would not have been a violation of Jewish law.
      Mark 15:1-5: "And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation, and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, 'Are you the king of the Jews?' And he answered him, 'You have said so.' And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, 'Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.' But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered."
      Remember, the Jewish council brought Jesus to Pilate for execution for blasphemy by claiming to be the Son of God, but Pilate asks instead if Jesus was king of the Jews and Jesus answers affirmatively. By admitting that he was in fact the king of the Jews, Jesus left Pilate no alternative but to order his execution. But instead we find Pilate seemingly defending Jesus. Imagine, a Roman governor attempting to save the life of a man with a huge following among the Jews during a period of great unrest, the Passover, claiming to be their king!
      MARK 15:12-14: "And Pilate again said to them, 'Then what shall I do with the man who you call the King of the Jews?' And they cried out again, 'Crucify him.' And Pilate said to them, 'Why, what evil has he done?' But they shouted all the more, "Crucify him."
      Pilate says here that the Jews identified Jesus as their king even though they had brought Jesus to him on a charge of blasphemy with no mention of his being their king. But again Pilate finds no evil in him! And the Jews themselves, having waited two hundred years for their Messiah/King, ask Pilate to execute him because he was being accepted as such by the Jewish people. Not any part of this can stand even casual examination.


      • #4
        Part Four

        We now come to the most incredible notice in this entire story. Pilate sends Jesus to Herod, who was in fact the king of the Jews. The NT reports that the elder King Herod, appointed personally by the Roman emperor Marc Anthony, had ordered execution of every Jewish baby in an effort to kill Jesus lest he try to claim the throne for himself. Herod Jr. was as hated, despised and distrusted by the Jews as was his predecessor. He was no more than a Roman toady, and had there been a successful revolt against Rome he would have been the first to go and he knew it. Herod was not even really a Jew; he was an Idumean, whom the Jews held to be racially impure, and he ruled only because of his connection to and support from Rome.
        LUKE 23:7-16: "And when he (Pilate) learned that he (Jesus) belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod and his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then, arraying him in gorgeous apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, 'You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people, and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him."
        Imagine this, if you can: Herod, the despised Roman supported king of the Jews, was glad to see Jesus who himself claimed to be the king of the Jews and was being accepted as such by the Jewish people! Had Jesus successfully prosecuted his claim to be king, Herod would have found himself in the unemployment line or, more likely, hanging from the nearest tree. It is beyond belief that the real king would be glad to meet someone who was making a claim for the kingship and would find no fault with him. And exactly what in that story would act to make Herod and Pilate, who had been enemies, suddenly become friends?

        Next, we have Herod and his soldiers treating Jesus with contempt. Why, since Herod was so glad to see him? They then array him in gorgeous apparel and send him back to Pilate. Why, after treating him with contempt, did they array him in gorgeous apparel? Pilate then says neither he nor Herod had found any fault with Jesus and wanted to release him. A man with a huge following claiming to be their king during the Passover which was then a time of great unrest among the Jewish people, and neither the Roman governor nor the Jewish king find any fault with him and want to release him. Phooey!

        The Gospels claim that Jesus was crucified between two thieves, which is also reported in the Apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, aka The Acts of Pilate, at Book IX5 as named Dysmas (Dismas) and Gestas, but thieves were rarely crucified; it is more likely that both of these "thieves" were actually Zealots or political trouble makers, and other translations do refer to these two as bandits, a word used at that time to describe revolutionaries. There is no mention in the Gospels themselves as to the identify of those crucified with Jesus, just as there is no mention of the blood of Jesus at his crucifixion having been collected in the cup, the Holy Grail, used at the Last Supper.

        One last issue that has no real relevance to the issues raised here, but may be of some interest to those who study the literal descriptions given in the Gospels. Christians always show Jesus as laboring under the cross on the way to his crucifixion. They claim that he stumbled several times and at some point a man named Simon was conscripted to help him. This is not biblical.
        LUKE 23:26: "And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus."

        MARK 15:21: "And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross."

        MATT. 27:32: "As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross."
        All three of these notices, read in the context of their preceding and following verses, make it clear that Simon was conscripted to carry the cross directly from Pilate's soldiers' barracks, and carried it by himself all the way to the place of crucifixion. The Gospel of John does make the laconic notice that Jesus carried his cross, but three of the four evangelists say Jesus did not carry it and specifically identified the person who did. Not one of the four Gospels makes any mention whatsoever of Jesus having stumbled or fallen or being unable to carry the cross himself.

        And finally, we have a high ranking Jew named Joseph of Arimathea, identified in Mark 15:42 and other places as a member of the council, going to Pilate to get Jesus' body released for burial in accordance with Jewish custom.

        First mystery: Joseph was a member of the council that had condemned Jesus, yet there is no mention of him having tried to defend Jesus at the trial.

        Second mystery: All of Jesus' followers had gone into hiding out of fear of being identified with him, but this high ranking member of the council, which served only with Roman permission, goes to Pilate and asks for and is given Jesus' body, thus identifying himself with Jesus and his movement, and Pilate accedes.

        Third mystery: Crucified bodies were never removed from the cross; they were left there to rot as an object lesson to other Jews who might consider revolt against Roman rule, and the Romans had no interest whatsoever in the Jewish burial customs. Pilate would not have been likely to allow the body of Jesus to have been removed only a few short hours after its crucifixion.

        I offer no speculation regarding these matters -- decide for yourselves what it all means.

        CONCLUSION: The Gospels were written for Romans, after the failed Jewish revolution, whom Paul (himself a Roman citizen) and those who followed him after his death were trying to convert. Even before the Jewish revolt and their expulsion from Jerusalem Paul and his group were at constant odds with the real leaders of the Jewish Christian movement, James the Just and Peter in Jerusalem. This is referred to several times in the Acts and Epistles, and mostly had to do with the requirement that converts to the newly formed Jewish Christian movement be circumcised and abide by Jewish dietary laws. Getting the Romans to stop eating pork was one thing, but getting them to submit to having the end of their dingus chopped off was something else again. Business was a bit slow for the early Christian Jews in Rome.

        Even after the Jewish revolt, at a time when the Jews were especially reviled by the Romans, Paul and his group would still have experienced extreme difficulty converting people to worship a god they themselves had murdered and were doing everything possible to distance themselves from the antiChristian Jews. The Jews already in Rome would have nothing to do with Paul and his group and were themselves in disfavor with the Roman regime. After the death of Paul and during the time of the early Church fathers, the Gospel authors took literary license with the facts and placed the blame for the crucifixion on the antiChristian Jews and depicted the Romans as having tried to save him.

        For further evidence of Jesus' popularity with the Jewish people and their lack of blame for his death, see Luke 23:27 where he is describing Jesus being led to his crucifixion: "And there followed him a great multitude of the people, and of women who bewailed and lamented him." This does not comport well with the numerous paintings showing Jesus being treated with contempt by the Jewish people on his way to his crucifixion.

        And finally we must consider the inscription ordered by Pilate on the cross, abbreviated "INRI" in Latin, but also written in Greek and Aramaic so it could be read by everyone whatever their language. "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews," the English translation of the Latin "Iesus Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm." Christians explain this by claiming it to have been a sarcastic insult, but according to John 19:19-22 (KJV) when the Jewish elders told Pilate that the inscription should be "He claims to be King of the Jews," Pilate responded by saying he had written what he had written, indicating that he did indeed believe that Jesus had claimed to be the long awaited human Jewish King, was being accepted as a leader of the Jewish people, and wanted to serve notice of the fate that awaited anyone else making such a claim.


        • #5

          Shalom Sandy, what you wrote on this thread is very thought provoking. These comments I had to print out. I wanted to add these things to my reference materials. You and Stranger ask yourselves the right questions to pierce the darkness. ---Very good indeed! ....Michael