Why Was Jesus Killed? Essay Example

4Why Was Jesus Killed?

Running Head: Why Was Jesus Killed?

Before considering an explanation to the question as to why Jesus Christ was killed, it must be mentioned from the onset that Jesus himself had predicted his death as an inevitable part of his divine mission on earth and in essence his destiny. Jesus had reiterated to his disciples on multiple occasions that his mission was to lay down his life as atonement for the sins of man, as a sacrifice of blood to seal a new covenant between man and God and in fulfillment of prophesy in biblical scripture-Isaiah 61:10. For instance in Mark 8:31, he predicts that he would suffer many terrible things, rejection from the priests and teachers of religious law and that he would be killed only to resurrect three days later. In Mark 10:32-34, he describes to his disciples how he would be betrayed by the teachers of religious law in Jerusalem, humiliated and sentenced to die.

Therefore, as he predicted himself, Jesus was killed out of conflict that arose between him and the priests and teachers of religious law- the scribes (Sadducees) and the Pharisees. The root of their antagonism towards Jesus was based on his interpretations of the law which contradicted their long held traditional religious philosophies. The priests, and Sadducees, held a position of prominence in Jewish society as they were the authoritative interpreters of religious law. They steadfastly insisted on the purity and irrevocability of religious rituals and taught strict adherence to the letter of religious law. Jesus’ teachings which insisted on compassion and forgiveness dealt a blow to their credibility. For instance, the Pharisees had leveled certain accusations against Jesus for which they claimed the only punishment was death. They accused him of violating scared religious rituals such as failure to enforce fasting among his disciples (Luke 5:33). They also accused him of teaching people to violate the Sabbath in Luke 6:1-2 and violating it himself in Luke 6:6-7 by healing non critical illnesses. These violations, according to them, were capital crimes. The Pharisees had also been embarrassed by Jesus on multiple occasions such as the incident with the adulterous woman who he pardoned in John 7:53-8:11. He had also tactfully deflected the issue of the legitimacy of paying taxes to the Roman Empire in Matthew 22:21. Paramount, however, was their skepticism and claims of blasphemy against Jesus on his claim that he was the Messiah and the Son of God.

As a result of these conflicts, the religious leaders and teachers of the law began collecting evidence which would indict Jesus of capital crimes. Jesus’ teachings had gained prominence and he had commanded admiration and respect in equal measure among the population at the expense of the scribes and Pharisees. He seemed to openly contradict their positions and teachings and they felt threatened by his charismatic influence. By the time they paid Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus at Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 47-56), the high priests and Pharisees had collected what they considered was enough evidence to indict Jesus for capital crimes against the Roman Empire. At the preliminary hearing at Caiaphas’ home and the Sanhedrin, they presented false witnesses (Matthew 26: 60-68) who accused him of blasphemy by claiming to be the Messiah and Son of God (Mark 14:62 and Matthew 26:64), the King of the Jews and conspiracy to destroy the temple-and rebuild it after three days. Due to lack of conclusive evidence to sentence him to death under Roman law, he was referred to Pontius Pilate. Pilate unsuccessfully tried to refer the case to Herod. Before Pilate, the chief priests accused Jesus of sedition, inciting revolt against the Roman Empire and encouraging his followers not to pay taxes. A non committal Pilate was hesitant to sentence Jesus to death. (Mark 15:10). After the Jewish public rejected a pardon for Jesus in Barrabas’ place- a criminal, Pilate handed over Jesus for crucifixion at the insistence of the High Priest and the Pharisees (Luke 23:1-25 & John 18:28-19:16).

References

Good News Publishing Company (1902). The American Bible (Volume 4). New Jersey: Princeton University.