The Expository Files

"Why Jesus Was Killed"


He did it again. He made it onto the cover of another national magazine. This time, Jesus made the cover of the April 24th, 2000 issue of U.S. News & World Report. The caption reads, "Why Jesus Was Killed" and underneath in smaller letters: "Scholars find new clues about the Crucifixion". The picture portrays a more or less typical representation of Jesus except He has no beard. Probably the artist was not aware that Jesus did have a beard, as was typical among first century Jewish men. Isaiah, the prophet, when prophesying of the mocking Jesus would one day go through specifically mentions the beard; "I gave My back to those who strike Me, And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting." (Isaiah 50:6).

The article examines various theories about Jesus and His death. Interestingly, it coincides with the recent apology of the Pope to various groups that have been mistreated by the Roman Catholic Church (under orders from previous Popes) throughout the centuries. Some Catholics believe the previous Popes were right, but most believe the present Pope did the right thing. At any rate, I am kind of an outsider when it comes to the present "Vicar of Christ on earth" apologizing for previous "Vicars of Christ on earth." That's like Jesus today apologizing through His Vicar for what he did back in the 14th century through another Vicar. But again, I do not accept that the Pope is Christ's Vicar on earth. If I did, then I would become a Catholic. Not only that, but I would obey everything the Pope said. How can anyone be a Catholic, claim to believe in the Papal office, and reject what is said about abortion, birth control, homosexuality and other similar issues? If I were a Catholic, I'd be a better one than many. I would accept these things as the word of Christ.

The article accurately records a wide variety of thoughts on the matter of Jesus' death., from the most liberal, modernistic extreme (Crossan and the "Jesus Seminar" scholars) to the Islamic perspective (Through a case of mistaken identity, Judas was crucified instead of Jesus) to some more or less accurate, Scriptural viewpoints.

There is discussed the role of the Jews in the event. Some, in the effort to be "politically correct" deny the Bible record is correct on this. Others have referred to Jews as "Christkillers" and persecuted them. Neither one of these positions is righteous and true.

As a matter of fact, Jews were involved. Their leaders sent soldiers to arrest Jesus. They tried Him before the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas and declared Him worthy of death. They handed Him over to Pilate. They charged Him. They cried out, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"

But Jesus was also a Jew. So were Matthew, Mark and John, three of the four gospel writers. Paul, who wrote more of the New Testament books than anyone else was a Jew. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were Jews. All the apostles were Jews. Following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the first three thousand converts were Jews. Then the first five thousand. It would be another five years or so before the first non Jews obey the gospel of Christ. As Jesus told the woman of Samaria at the well, "You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews." (John 4:22). The gospel was a gospel for the Jews before it became a gospel for the Gentiles. Paul wrote,

" For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16).

This might offend the politically correct on one side as well as haters of Jewish people on the other. Many find Jesus of Nazareth offensive, but He is the hope of the world, to both Jew and Gentile. To either dismiss the event of the crucifixion or to hate and mistreat any person using that event as a pretext is evil and contrary to Jesus' own words. Jesus is Lord.

By Jon W. Quinn
The Final Page
From Expository Files 7.5; May 2000