09 Aug 2015

Who Killed Jesus?

Religious 38 Comments

I was talking with my son about this (we had just read about Pontius Pilate infamously pilate-wash-hands-300x225“washing his hands” of the affair) and thought it might be interesting to pass along…

==> At the most direct level, the Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross (plus the one who speared Him) killed Jesus.

==> But the soldiers were of course “just following orders,” which had been issued by Pontius Pilate. There’s a legitimate sense in which we don’t really walk around horrified at the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus, just as we matter-of-factly talk about how many people Hitler or Stalin “killed.” And yet, they actually weren’t shooting people personally. (I don’t want to derail this post, but I just note that this is a big dispute over strategy when it comes to libertarian activism–some people think focusing on police should be paramount, whereas others think that’s small potatoes.)

==> As the picture (and link above) indicate, Pilate didn’t want to give the order to execute Jesus. He knew Jesus wasn’t guilty of anything worthy of death. But, he was afraid the Jewish crowds would riot, thereby jeopardizing his position (and generally just being a pain to deal with).

==> So were the Jewish people chanting, “Crucify him!” and asking Pilate to free Barabbas to blame? This after all is the basis for certain strands of anti-Semitism. (Note this verse in particular.)

==> Well no, because crowds are fickle. The mob was singing hosannas to Jesus just earlier that week when He entered Jerusalem. The chief priests and their cronies were the ones who deliberately riled the crowd up against Jesus.

==> Note that the person historically considered to have been the worst individual in this whole affair was Judas. And yet, Judas in a certain sense was far less responsible than anybody described above. But of course, it was the fact that he had been a close friend and then betrayed Jesus–and for mere money–that placed Judas at the bottom of Dante’s Inferno.

satan-consuming-judas-from-dantes-inferno

(If you don’t remember Judas’ fate in Dante’s vision, it’s pretty awful.)

==> Is it completely Judas’ fault? Well, Satan entered his heart and tempted him to betray the Lord.

==> Oh, so the whole thing is really Satan’s fault? Well no, God is in charge of everything that happens. Satan can only attack humans with the express permission of God. Jesus asked on the cross of His father, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?

==> OK, so the whole thing happened because God designed it that way from the beginning of time? Well, He also wanted us to have free will, and He is a just God. So faced with the choice of sending everyone to hell or having His Son die for us, God chose to sacrifice His only Son.

==> Thus, our sins ultimately killed Jesus, and we have no basis for wagging our fingers at anybody who participated in those events.

==> The core doctrine of Christianity is either horrifying or gorgeous, depending on your perspective: God takes the greatest crime in history, when humans try to murder their loving Creator, turns the other cheek, and transforms it into our salvation that reconciles us to Him.

Jesus-leaves-tomb

38 Responses to “Who Killed Jesus?”

  1. E. Harding says:

    “The core doctrine of Christianity is either horrifying or gorgeous, depending on your perspective: God takes the greatest crime in history, when humans try to murder their loving Creator, turns the other cheek, and transforms it into our salvation that reconciles us to Him.”
    -It’s horrifying, gorgeous in a twisted sense, and ludicrous.
    “The chief priests and their cronies were the ones who deliberately riled the crowd up against Jesus.”
    -Ah, but they were also Jews, weren’t they?

    I should definitely read over Paul’s letters to see what Paul says about it.

  2. E. Harding says:

    “OK, so the whole thing happened because God designed it that way from the beginning of time? Well, He also wanted us to have free will, and He is a just God.”
    -Free will is inherently determined by prior conditions. God’s idea of justice (being more demanding on humans than on himself) is kinda weird.

  3. rob says:

    “So faced with the choice of sending everyone to hell or having His Son die for us, God chose to sacrifice His only Son.:”

    Honest question: Why, given that His only Son would return to heaven and would presumably be able to resume his previously divine existence, would this sacrifice be that big of a deal in the big picture ?

    • W. Peden says:

      I’m not a Christian, but one interpretation of Jesus asking God why he has forsaken him is that, for that moment, Jesus experienced full abandonment by God, i.e. hell, which is supposed to be the worst thing that can ever happen to someone.

  4. khodge says:

    1) I think the sociology of the day is not a secondary issue, i.e. respect for life as we know it today is very much a product of the Judeo Christian tradition whereas Pilate’s responsibility was to keep the Jews under control (not radically different from China and Tiananmen Square).

    2) You missed the Sanhedrin which would be my first choice. Clearly the crowd was manipulated, Pilate was manipulated, the soldiers were following orders (not to absolve them but see my point 1), Judas merely pointed him out (enabling the event to happen in secret but, benefiting the Sanhedrin);So, while there is plenty of blame, the ones most culpable (to my mind) were those most skillful at manipulating the other actors to their own end (maintaining their power), the most political of the players.

    • khodge says:

      To the point of “God did it,” as you said, God gave us free will, that is, he knows what is in our hearts and knew what was in the hears of all the actors. Often the Bible states that he hardened their hearts but, in the case of the Crucifixion, it was only Judas (when Jesus told him to do what he must do) but Judas did not have the power or will to cause the Crucifixion. God cannot do evil so he did not do it unless you choose to call the Crucifixion good, as in certain traditions: Oh hsppy fault, Oh necessary sin of Adam..

  5. Ed says:

    Bob,

    when Jesus said: Why have you forsaken me? he was citing Psalm 22. (It begins with the exact same words of lamentation but ends in praise)

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Ed, right. So the Psalmist also knew that earthly troubles occurred because God allowed them.

  6. knoxharrington says:

    Could God have accomplished his goal without the killing of Jesus?

    If the answer is yes, then God is a monster. If the answer is no, then God is not all powerful.

    Begin equivocations …… now.

    • guest says:

      “Begin equivocations …… now.”

      In the biblical paradigm, his nature is such that he cannot tolerate sin. But true worship necessitates free will, which makes it possible to sin.

      Continue attempts to violate the law of non-contradiction … now.

      • E. Harding says:

        But what does that have to do with Jesus’s sacrifice being necessary?
        And what’s this “free will” the Christians refer to?

        • guest says:

          Because in order to be in the presence of God, you have to be perfect, which rules out the sacrifice of humans, because sinful ones are not acceptable and because a theoretically perfect one (moot point) could only forgive sins up to the time he was sacrificed.

          Also, because the sacrifice of animals can’t forgive sins. The practice was intended to let Israel know that their own blood was required for the forgiveness of sins, and since we all sin every day, those sacrifices would have to be perpetual.

          The requirement of perpetual sacrifice was satisfied by a living sacrifice: someone who could overcome death.

          This is why the sacrifice had to be God in human flesh.

          • knoxharrington says:

            “Because in order to be in the presence of God, you have to be perfect, which rules out the sacrifice of humans, because sinful ones are not acceptable and because a theoretically perfect one (moot point) could only forgive sins up to the time he was sacrificed.”

            Way to completely miss the point. God makes the rules and therefore can change the rules. If God wanted to snap his fingers and accomplish the goal that was meant to be achieved by Jesus’ death he could do it. If you deny that is the case then you are denying God the essence implied in its existence – namely, omnipotence.

            “Or, maybe I should just give these kinds of posts a rest.”

            Yes. Take your advice. You completely misunderstood the point of the question and offered an absolutely ridiculous response as a result. Sit down.

            • guest says:

              “Way to completely miss the point. God makes the rules and therefore can change the rules. If God wanted to snap his fingers and accomplish the goal that was meant to be achieved by Jesus’ death he could do it.”

              Got can’t change his nature, and his goal is relative to that.

              “Yes. Take your advice. You completely misunderstood the point of the question … Sit down.”

              No, I didn’t miss the point, and that’s not the reason I should sit down.

              My logic is sound.

              • knoxharrington says:

                How do you know what God can and cannot do? I ascribed omnipotence to God. Do you think God is all powerful? If not, what is your basis for a limitation on its power? If God is omnipotent than it could have easily accomplished the goal by other means.

                I want to thank you for giving everyone a great example of the equivocations I knew would be forthcoming. Well done.

              • guest says:

                “If not, what is your basis for a limitation on its power?”

                Uhh … logic.

                God is not powerful enough to violate the laws of logic.

                I don’t know what that would have to do with his power.

                But that’s so devastating … I guess?

                “I want to thank you for giving everyone a great example of the equivocations I knew would be forthcoming. Well done.”

                Well, you’re very welcome.

                I’m so glad I could leave you with the law-of-non-contradiction-straw to grasp at.

                Hold on tight, OK?

              • knoxharrington says:

                Just so we are clear. You claim that Jesus needed to die in order for God not to violate the laws of logic?

                Again, just so we are clear here is my original question: “Could God have accomplished his goal without the killing of Jesus?”

                Answer that with a yes or no. This is not a “have you stopped beating your wife” type question either.

              • guest says:

                “Answer that with a yes or no.”

                The answer is no, because of his goal which is based in his nature.

                Failing to be capable of violating the laws of logic is not a power deficiency.

              • knoxharrington says:

                Ushering in the laws of logic as some sort of trump card is an example of the equivocations I was talking about. There is nothing within the laws of logic that requires human sacrifice. I want to know why an omnipotent being who can will the universe into existence requires human sacrifice when he could have more easily snapped his proverbial fingers and the problem would have been solved. Your response appears to be that he needed people to worship him. Why does he need that? One would assume that God is so self-actualized (perfect) that he doesn’t need ANYTHING. Why wouldn’t God just snap his fingers on that too?

                Why would anyone WANT to worship so immoral a being. It’s not ok to kill children unless God says it’s ok. And he said it a lot. That is so morally retarded it is shocking.

                The whole thing is weird. Why not just cut to the chase and absolve Adam and Eve and move on? God sure seems to suck at everything.

              • guest says:

                “There is nothing within the laws of logic that requires human sacrifice.”

                But then, logic is amoral.

                “Why does he need that?”

                Who knows?

                “Why wouldn’t God just snap his fingers on that too?”

                Why wouldn’t God just snap his fingers so that none of us has to waste time pooping, if he wants us to worship him?

                Maybe part of his plan involved not snapping his fingers.

                It’s like he snapped his fingers up to a certain point, but what follows is also part of the snap and it has to play out?

                It’s fun to ponder.

                “Why would anyone WANT to worship so immoral a being.”

                It’s technically not immoral to destroy your own creation.

                What you’re looking for is whether or not God is justified in killing us based on the claims he’s made against us.

                If there’s inconsistency there, that’s when we could say that God is evil.

                But then we would still worship him out of fear, because what else could possibly be done in that scenario?

                In the biblical paradigm, he holds all the cards, and we’re truly powerless.

                Puff your chest to no avail.

                But I understand that you don’t believe this stuff, so just think of it as a thought experiment.

        • guest says:

          “And what’s this “free will” the Christians refer to?”

          It’s that stuff Keshav and I are still talking about.

          Anyway, this is all from a hypocrite, so please take this only as an attempt to share the logic behind the doctrine.

          Or, maybe I should just give these kinds of posts a rest.

        • knoxharrington says:

          guest completed missed the point of your (and my) question. If God is all powerful why is the sacrifice necessary in the first place.

      • knoxharrington says:

        “In the biblical paradigm, his nature is such that he cannot tolerate sin.”

        What? God placed the tree of knowledge in the Garden knowing full well that Adam and Eve would partake of the fruit and sin. God set them up to fail on purpose. God can tolerate sin – it made sin a fundamental fact of all human existence from the start.

        Of course, you ignore the MANY times that God ordered people to sin. Is that possible since he cannot tolerate something that he commanded? “Continue attempts to violate the law of non-contradiction … now.”

        • guest says:

          He didn’t set them up to fail, he gave them a choice, which is what true worship depends on.

          And knowing someone is going to do something isn’t the same as causing them to do it.

          Also, he didn’t order people to sin. He used Israel as judgement against whole peoples, and the children he wanted killed were his, anyway.

          If the sacrifice of that daughter by that one guy was a real human sacrificd (debatable, in-house), she, also, belonged to God.

          • knoxharrington says:

            God didn’t give them a choice because God is omniscient. Do you believe that God is omniscient? If so, then God placed the tree in the Garden knowing that they would choose to eat its fruit. Please re-read what I wrote. I never said God ordered people to sin. I merely set forth a common understanding of the Garden story. God is omniscient. God placed the tree in the Garden. God, being omniscient, knew they would “choose” to eat the fruit. If God wanted them to live without sin he wouldn’t have put the tree there. Right? Adam and Eve had a “choice” but given the God already knew the outcome, given its omniscience, was that really a choice?

            Do you even think about the import of what you are saying? For example, “the children he wanted killed.” The children he wanted killed? Really? Do you see the gross immorality of that statement? Why would anyone worship anything that viewed children that way? Sick.

            • guest says:

              “If God wanted them to live without sin he wouldn’t have put the tree there. Right?”

              But his goal was for them to do more than live. He wanted their worship.

              Which means he has to present them with a choice to make the worship meaningful.

              His goal required the tree.

              “… given the God already knew the outcome, given its omniscience, was that really a choice?”

              Sure.

              “The children he wanted killed? Really? Do you see the gross immorality of that statement?”

              It’s immoral when people do it to others without God’s approval.

              “Why would anyone worship anything that viewed children that way? Sick.”

              In the biblical paradigm, God was telling Israel to do this, audibly.

              So, even if you don’t believe in the Bible, think of it as a thought experiment.

              Pretend that I believed, as you, that God was a sadist.

              Wouldn’t he be more likely to do sadistic things if you didn’t worship him?

              In the biblical paradigm, this isn’t the case, though.

              • knoxharrington says:

                I don’t believe that God is a sadist. I have never seen any evidence that God exists so that is a little like believing that a unicorn’s favorite food is a pecan roll from Stuckey’s. It is a nonsensical statement.

                I hope everyone reads your responses and understands what a morally bankrupt person you appear to be. Why would anyone worship a God who approved of the killing of children. Seriously, that is straight up bizarre and grossly immoral.

              • guest says:

                “… that is a little like believing that a unicorn’s favorite food is a pecan roll from Stuckey’s.”

                I get where you’re coming from.

                “I hope everyone reads your responses and understands what a morally bankrupt person you appear to be.”

                Looks like we both got something we wanted.

                Me holding the line on logical consistency, and you having a moral “out” for your logic challenge.

              • knoxharrington says:

                I did get what I wanted. You proved my point entirely. You could not honestly answer the original question and equivocated like crazy.

                Well done.

              • guest says:

                “Well done.”

                Thanks for the exchange, knoxharrington.

  7. trent steele says:

    “OK, so the whole thing happened because God designed it that way from the beginning of time? Well, He also wanted us to have free will, and He is a just God. So faced with the choice of sending everyone to hell or having His Son die for us, God chose to sacrifice His only Son.”

    None of this makes sense. If he created us with free will, we can still only react to the environment he puts us in. Then we act according to our will GIVEN the environment (of scarcity of resources and knowledge). THEN he reveals himself to only a few. THEN he condemns people who he never bothered to reveal himself to, for not believing in him, in the world of scarcity (of information) that he PUT them in.

    Then we’re supposed to believe that he backed himself into a corner where he either had to scrap his (faulty?) creation, or send his “son” down for a few space-minutes to “kill” himself, even though it’s just a ticket back to eternal bliss.

    You lost me on this one. I still don’t think you even come close to dealing with the fact that we’re either in a deterministic universe (god set everything in motion and is therefore responsible for everything – i.e. we have no free will) or that the god you’ve read about is not the all-powerful creator of all, but instead one of many minor deities.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      “God is not omnipotent as I define it, therefore he’s not only not omnipotent but there’s probably other gods too!”

      There’s uh. Kind of a huge non sequitur there.

  8. Innocent says:

    Okay so as to who killed Jesus. I think it is pretty clear, they all did. They all committed sins in their own way. In fact had just ONE, only ONE of the people in power or authority stepped forward to change the direction the entire thing would have been avoided.

    Pilot did what he did because it was his ‘job’ to keep the peace and this was a way to do so.
    The soldiers did it because they are the ones who have to execute those condemned to death.
    The people did it when they chose Barabbas over Christ – a known revolutionary and man of action, over the prince of peace.

    The Priests are guilt for rather than seek the knowledge of God they acted on what they knew to be true.

    Judas, ah poor Judas. He acted selfishly seeking his own position over the kingdom of God. I am sorry that I see the words in this case as poetic, I would say that Judas allowed Satan a place in his heart, I do not think God keeps us – any of us – away from temptation. Did not Satan do the same to Christ? Yet his response was ‘Get thee behind me Satan’

    In the end it is not a question of who is to blame, but rather who will you choose to become. Christ was never interested in blaming others. He exposed their hypocrisy, their lies, he showed people their sins, then told them to go and sin no more.

    Bad things happen to good people. It is not what happens to us in this life that God is interested about. It is how we choose to deal with it that He cares about.

    Trent Steele

    “If he created us with free will then we can only react to the environment that he puts us in”
    So you are saying that you cannot choose right now to try to learn of God and understand Him better because He placed you in a situation in which your understanding is such that you cannot help but choose not to?

    God can revel himself to you ( he is no respecter of persons ) but only if you journey to where he is… In the metaphysical respect of location. That is like saying. Why can’t Rome be where I am right now!!! If Rome really existed I should be able to walk through it in my own neighborhood.

    Heck how about this… If Relativity really exists then I should be able to observe it without a mathematical formula. Or for that Matter Infrared light. Seriously, just because you do not understand something does not mean it does not exist and is not there. There are many people who have witnessed the Glory of God. I am one of them. I invite you to learn of Christ, to become a serious rather than casual student. If you would like I am more than happy to chat about this offline. The answers are there if you take the time to learn and understand.

    Anyway. I do not believe in predestination, however, having had five children, I can see how a situation with them is going to play out fairly well even before the series of actions begins. I have no doubt God, who knows us intimately sits back and shakes his head at the foolish choices we make.

  9. anon says:

    “The core doctrine of Christianity is either horrifying or gorgeous, depending on your perspective: God takes the greatest crime in history, when humans try to murder their loving Creator, turns the other cheek, and transforms it into our salvation that reconciles us to Him.”

    That’s a doctrine, but it’s not the core doctrine. Christianity has had several core doctrines, and while this one is the most popular, the meaning of Jesus’s crucifixion was subject to broad interpretation for centuries. What this particular doctrine does is to reinforce the vision of God as a divine king/accountant who’d really love to forgive your debt, but he just can’t get around the edicts of the bank’s board of directors. Who he created, and who are him. Whatever.

    Marcus Borg offers this take (don’t know if links are allowed on RPM’s blog, but you can Google for the whole article):

    “Then there’s the cross as the once and for all sacrifice for sin. If we literalize that language, as … much of conventional Christianity has done, the only way God can forgive sins is if adequate sacrifice is offered: Somebody has got to be punished, and that person is Jesus. Also only those people who know and believe in that story can be saved. Thus, literalizing that language is a slur on the character of God. If you see Jesus’ death as part of the divine plan, as part of the will of God, that suggests that God required the suffering of this immeasurably great man. It is never the will of God that an innocent person be crucified, and to suggest that is to suggest something horrible about God.”

    If, on the other hand, we understand the language of Jesus’s being the sacrifice for sin as a post-Easter interpretation of his death that emerges within the early Christian community, we can then see that, metaphorically, it’s a proclamation of radical grace. The connection is this: If Jesus is the once and for all sacrifice for sin, understood metaphorically now, it means that God has already taken care of whatever it is that we think separates us from God. It means that God accepts us just as we are and that the Christian life is not about getting right with God. God’s already taken care of that. The Christian life becomes about something else, namely, living within this framework of radical trust in God and relationship to God that makes possible our transformation, and, ideally and ultimately, the transformation of the world.”

    Atonement is the Christian doctrine of the cross — Why did Jesus die? What did his death accomplish? There are a lot of versions of the atonement doctrine in Christian history….The “substitutionary blood sacrifice” version of the atonement is the least compelling theological explanation of the cross for me.”

    For me, the suffering of Jesus is a sacrament of the love of God. The story tells us that God willingly soaks up all of our systemic injustice, personal evil and violence and returns only love.”

    Most of this is your standard utopian schmaltz mixing religion and politics, but Borg at least clarifies that God-as-accountant-of-blood is one interpretation of the crucifixion story, not a core element of the story itself.

  10. Michael says:

    Men killed Jesus. It wasn’t the Romans, nor the Jews. Humanity.
    “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
    “He came unto his own, and his own received him not”.

    “What is there that I ought to do more to my vineyard, that I have not done to it? was it that I looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it hath brought forth wild grapes? ”

    I believe that almost anything that it is written in the bible about the jews can easily be applied to any people.

    When Christians sought to criticize the Jews saying they killed the Lord, and now that Christians seek to elevate the Jews as being better than anyone else, these two things I believe are incompatible with Jesus Christ. Followers of Christ must not seek to find enemies and destroy them. This does not come from God. “For neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath given all judgment to the Son.” We are not “The” son and we are not here to judge or punish.

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