Creed: Why Jesus Suffered & was Crucified by Pontius Pilate
- Monday, August 15, 2005
Have you ever wondered what you might ask God if you could ask Him but one question?
I have. And, I know the answer.
“Why did it have to be Roman crucifixion? Couldn’t it have been easier?”
Okay, so that’s two questions, but they’re wrapped within each other and I’ll probably ask them so quickly the angels around the Throne will probably miss the question mark and, seeing the sincerity in my eyes, will not hit the “you goofed” buzzer.
Neither the Bible nor history makes any bones about it: Jesus of Nazareth suffered. Jesus of Nazareth was crucified under the order of Pontius Pilate. As horrific as the details, this was—for sinful mankind—Good News.
A Quick Look Back
For several months we have studied both the Nicene and the Apostle’s Creed. We have recently begun to look at the life of the man we call Jesus, born of a virgin we call Mary who lived over two-thousand years ago in a small Galilean village of Israel. Mary (who as a Jewess would have been called Miriam, was engaged to a carpenter/stone mason named Joseph (Yosef).
Joseph and Mary raised Jesus (Yeshua) for awhile in Egypt and then, instructed by God, returned to Nazareth where Mary lived out her days as a wife and mother and Joseph trained his son in the skills of carpentry/stone masonry. (The Greek word translated to “carpenter” is Tekton, which is a craftsman of stone and wood…and even a “builder” of songs and stories. How interesting that before his years of ministry, Jesus worked to build things with his hands; with his ministry he built stories to draw people closer to the Father; and as Messiah, he built a bridge from a life of sin to eternal salvation. This is, of course, just a little side note from me to you.)
A Ruckus In Israel
Jesus had been stirring up trouble. And he meant to. For over three years he’d been walking the country, meeting with men and women, healing the sick, raising the dead, drawing little children into his lap, and bringing the words of His Heavenly Father to a world trapped in spiritual bondage.
To understand the times and the people means to first understand Pax Romana: The Peace of Rome,” which took place from 27 B. C. to 180 A. D. Of course peace to one man is not necessarily peace to another. Rome controlled both the land of Israel and her people.
Within those peoples were four sects or “schools of thought,” which included the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Zealots. A study of the four shows us the desperate spiritual, religious, and political situation of the time.
The Pharisees (from the Hebrew word perusion, and meaning “separated ones”) believed in the oral law and the Mosaic Law. They were champions of the people, but their teaching was ethical rather than theological. Quite often Jesus went toe-to-toe with the Pharisees. (See Matthew 23 for a rather explosive showdown.)
The Sadducees denied the oral law but were very exact with Levitical purity. Unlike the Pharisees, they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead or an afterlife.
The Essenes observed the purity laws of the Torah. They had a strong sense of mutual responsibility but avoided marriage like the plague. They took oaths of piety and obedience but believed in fate.
The Zealots opposed the paying of taxes to a pagan emperor. They believed strongly in Jewish tradition and were vehemently opposed to the use of the Greek language. They also believed in a time of salvation. (One of Jesus’ chosen Twelve was called Simon the Zealot.)
Who Did Jesus Think He Was?
Remember the story of the lame man who was lowered into a house while lying on a mat by his good friends? Well, here’s another side to it. One day as Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of the law (the Scribes, most of whom were Pharisees) decided they were going to sit in and listen to what Jesus was saying. As they were listening and the man was lowered right in front of Jesus, he looked up at the friends, then down at the paralytic and said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
Well. The Pharisees and teachers of the law went into a tizzy. Only God could forgive sins and (in their self-righteousness) most probably only if He asked permission from them! Though they didn’t say anything out loud, their thoughts went directly from their hearts to the mind of Jesus.
“Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?” he asked them. “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” (He then looked at the paralyzed man again)…”I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
The man stood. (See Luke 5)
And the wheels of God’s plan were most firmly set in motion.
NEXT: From The Religious Hypocrites to Pilate’s Court to a Hill Called Golgotha
Award-winning national speaker Eva Marie Everson is a recent graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary. Her work includes the just released Sex, Lies, and the Media (Cook) and The Potluck Club (Baker/Revell) She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at www.evamarieeverson.com.
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