And when Jesus had come to the end of all these words, he said to his disciples, After two days is the Passover, and the Son of man will be given up to the death of the cross. Then the chief priests and the rulers of the people came together in the house of the high priest, who was named Caiaphas. And they made designs together to take Jesus by some trick, and put him to death. But they said, Not while the feast is going on, for fear of trouble among the people. Matthew 26:1-5.For a little over two thousand years, various people around the world have blamed the Jews for killing Jesus. For this reason and for other reasons, Jews have been persecuted beyond reason. It is wrong. A travesty of human decency, morality and justice, the people of Israel have been the brunt of planned programs such as the holocaust and the daily threat of terror inflicted against them in, for some, an attempt to wipe them from the face of the earth.
Two main areas of contention are (a) the land itself and (b) the crucifixion of Jesus.
The lunacy that prevails around the world concerning the land and her people and the Palestinian question beggars the imagination. God promised this land to Israel before there were Jews, Gentiles, Arabs or a place called Palestine! It is part of an everlasting covenant that He made with a man called Abram. All one has to do is conduct a simple search into scripture to see how many times God made statements that Jerusalem was His city and the people we call Jews are to live there in the capital of the land of Israel without controversy.
Look again at our reference, this time from another version of scripture.
When speaking about the Law that says we are not to commit murder, He took it to a higher level saying that if we have hatred in our hearts, we have as good as killed someone. When talking about adultery, He said that if we foster sexual thoughts in our minds it is the same as actually committing the act.
It seems that when Jesus did something so wonderful that He aroused their ire. He healed someone on the Sabbath and they started baiting Him to find something they could use to get rid of Him. Matthew 12:9-14 is a classic example. I would be more than happy to see someone healed, but they grew angry. Why? It still happens today. The Message account says that they walked out furious, sputtering about how they were going to ruin Jesus. That stuff is real. I know! I have been on the receiving end of it!
Matthew 27:1 is interesting.
From then on he taught each day in the Temple. The high priests, religion scholars, and the leaders of the people were trying their best to find a way to get rid of him. But with the people hanging on every word he spoke, they couldn't come up with anything. Luke 19:47-48.
The betrayal did not come from the ordinary people but from the religious bigots who are still with us. It was in essence nothing less than a power struggle. The manipulation, domination and control exercised by the leaders over ordinary people then still exist today. They plotted and schemed, seeking a way to be rid of the one who threatened their stranglehold over the minds and emotions of decent simple folk who were blithely ignorant of their schemes. Judas joined with them for personal financial gain, but they could not handle the truth and the risk of being exposed as religious frauds. The priesthood that God instigated had become warped and twisted by man’s religious intervention.
Look now at something John said after Jesus brought Lazarus back to life.
The high priests and Pharisees called a meeting of the Jewish ruling body. "What do we do now?" they asked. "This man keeps on doing things, creating God-signs.If we let him go on, pretty soon everyone will be believing in him and the Romans will come and remove what little power and privilege we still have." John 11:47-48.
Then one of them—it was Caiaphas, the designated Chief Priest that year—spoke up, "Don't you know anything? Can't you see that it's to our advantage that one man dies for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed?" He didn't say this of his own accord, but as Chief Priest that year he unwittingly prophesied that Jesus was about to die sacrificially for the nation, and not only for the nation but so that all God's exile-scattered children might be gathered together into one people.
The ordinary people… may I call them The Jews… were ignorant of these things.
The high priest and his cohorts were the ones who wanted Him dead and they plotted to kill Him. They were so incensed that they also wanted to kill Lazarus. All normal rational thinking and reasoning seems to have left them because of fear, envy, jealousy and pure greed.
History tells us that leaders who misuse power and authority can rule with an iron fist. Their army can instill fear into the hearts and minds of ordinary people either by direct threats or physical action or by the threat thereof. Many dictators rise to power by the use of bribery and threats, or the assassination of their opponents, imprisonment or by the withdrawal of resources. A man with a gun in a police state can dictate terms to an innocent family man who fears for the welfare of his wife and children.
These factors combined with the nature of Jewish Law may have given men like the chief priests the edge. Simple-minded folk could be easily swayed in the heat and emotion of a religious festival by mercenaries and bribed officials. Sometimes people go with the flow to avoid personal conflict. It is easier to sway with the breeze that try to resist it at times.
These few illustrations may have been influencing factors in the arrest and trial of Jesus.
They sent Him to Pilate, the governor and He remained silent before him as well. The governor wanted His release, but the core of priests that were scheming and plotting demanded His death. To avoid a riot, Pilate succumbed. His own future depended on maintaining as peaceful occupation as possible.
Caiaphas, the scribes, the elders and all the council were assembled there and they, not the people sought witnesses. There were none until two were found, most likely bribed to tell their stories. Out of all the people in Israel only two people came forward to give false testimony.
What I find very interesting is the fact that the testimony or judgment of two reputable and reliable men was witness of two men, powerful leaders at that were totally ignored.
Pilate again tried to release Jesus, but the people who wanted Jesus dead would not listen and demanded His death. Matthew’s account reveals that Pilate saw that a tumult was being made. Ordinary people generally do little until stirred up. It takes a strong core of people who threaten, bribe, or use violence and coercion in the midst of otherwise innocent people to achieve their objectives. When the human emotion is stirred and passion is flamed all sense of reason often disappears. Matthew 27:24 made a public declaration of his intent by publicly washing his hands declaring Jesus to be a just person and in verse 25, Mathew said that the crowd cried out that Jesus’ blood would be on them and their children. They had lost control, but the question I ask is, was this crowd a full representation of the ordinary family men and women and their families or was it the core of fanatics stirred up by the religious leaders? In verses 39 and 40, Matthew states that they who passed by mocked Him. Why does he refer to? Who are the “They”? Why did he not say “crowd” or “mob”? Perhaps the answer is found in the next verse that states the chief priests, the scribes and the elders mocked Him.
Please look at something interesting that happened after His death.
The ordinary people did not approach Pilate with this request... the ones who contrived His death did. The King James Version says that they said the last error shall be worse than the first. To which error or errors are they referring? Is it theirs? Did they realize that they had been mistaken and wanted to cover it up by preventing the possibility that Jesus would in fact be raised from the dead or that His disciples would steal the body? There was a real element of doubt there and I now believe that they wanted to cover their tracks.
The more I look at the crucifixion story, the more I am convinced that the population at large had little to do with Jesus’ death and that it was only a small, yet powerful and influential group who did.
The ordinary people didn’t kill Him—the Romans did, being used as puppets by religious men.
I am now more convinced than ever that Jews can say with absolute honestly, “We didn’t kill Him”. What do you think?