Means, Motive, And Opportunity pt 1 [repost/updated]
There are two reasons Christ died on the cross:
First -- and most important -- He was the ransom offered up by God and himself and his love for humanity, the ransom paid for humanity’s sins of selfishness and self-centeredness and greed and hate and fear.
He was not, as we are erroneously taught in Sunday school, a blood atonement that God demanded: That’s barbaric, and God is not barbaric.
He was put to death by human hands, and for human reasons; and what came from that is the miracle we celebrate on Easter.
It was a demonstration that we are not beyond hope, beyond love.
“Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” is both a formula and a warning: If we want grace & forgiveness, we have to offer it.
That’s the spiritual / metaphysical / theological reason He had to die.
But there’s a far more mundane reason that motivated the political charges against Him.
Though He was accused of treason, sedition, and rebellion, Pontius Pilate clearly didn’t believe Jesus was guilty of anything except being a pain in the tuches; he kept looking for reasons to release Him. Even Herod couldn’t whip himself up into a frenzy over His purported treason (since Herod was King of Judea, and Jesus was one of his citizens, a treason charge from him would be valid).
The motive behind the Pharisees’ false accusations was purely monetary:
The Roman governor had to approve each new High Priest appointment.
While the Pharisees would make the nomination, by treaty the governor had final authority.
The same family -- Annas and his sons & son-in-law Caiaphas -- had a lock on that chair for most of Christ’s ministry. They were probably afraid that the Romans -- who couldn’t have cared less about justice or morality or theology but just wanted law-n-order so the tax revenues would keep flowing -- would learn that very, very few Judeans gave a fig for the Pharisees in general & the High Priest (whoever the current office holder was) in particular.
They were also doubtlessly afraid that the Romans had heard thru spies that this radical new preacher who was winning followers in ever increasing numbers had taught several points in regards to Rome & Roman authority…
“So tell me, centurion, what have you learned
of this man Jesus. Has he made any statements
regarding Rome or Caesar?”
“Aye, Pilate, he has.”
“You can’t trust these firebrands.
Very well, what has he said?”
“Well, first he has told the Jews that they should
pay the taxes that Caesar has imposed.”
“I’m sorry, I could have sworn you just said
he told them to pay their taxes.”
“Aye, he did. ‘Render unto Caesar’ are
his exact words according to our spies.”
“I see. Anything else?”
“He told his followers that if a Roman tells them
to carry his armor one mile, they are to carry it two.”
“Has he said anything rebellious?
Anything urging the people to fight back?”
“No, lord Pilate; quite the opposite in fact.
He said if someone strikes them on one cheek
they are to turn and offer the other cheek as well.”
“He said that?”
“And he still has followers?”
“Aye, and in greater and greater numbers.”
“I’m curious: Has this man Jesus
ever actually met a Roman?”
“Aye, Pilate, he has. He met me.”
“Aye. My most loyal servant was sick and
Jesus was performing healings in the town square.
I went to him and asked him to heal my servant.”
“And did he come and heal him?”
“Well, yes and no…he indicated he was willing
to come but I said that would not be necessary,
seeing as how he was a man of great authority.
And as a fellow man of authority I know if I give
an order it will be obeyed, so I told him all he
had to do was say the word and I knew
my servant would be healed.”
“And he did so?”
“Aye, at that very moment even
though he was far away.”
“Did he make any comment on this?”
“Aye, he said he hadn’t met any Jews
who had as much faith in him as I had.”
“He said that.”
“So, let me see if I understand you:
You’re telling me that Jesus tells his followers
to pay taxes to Caesar, to carry a Roman’s armor
an extra mile if ordered to carry it one, and
to turn the other cheek and submit to authority,
and on top of all this not only healed your servant
but said you had more faith than the Jews?”
“Hmmm, centurion, y’know who might make a good High Priest…?”
© Buzz Dixon