2013-03-20 / Columns

Jim Hite

“Why was Jesus killed?”

As most of us realize, time does go by quickly. We’ve already switched to Daylight Savings Time, the days are getting longer; and even though temperatures are still on the cool (some would say cold) side, we know warmer and hotter weather is not far off.

We also are close to Easter, which has an early date this year. Next Sunday is called Palm Sunday, commemorating the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Within a week, He would be put to a most painful death.

To those of the Christian faith, we believe that the story does not end on Friday, but life bursts through on Sunday with eternal ramifications for each of us.

Let me leave that to next week.

Why was Jesus killed? The answers are many, yet say basically the same thing and lead to the same conclusion. He died for me, He paid the price for my sins, He was the perfect sacrifice, He did so to accept the cup of suffering demanded by His Father, He suffered death to conquer death, and more.

But as we read the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ last week, we need to look closely into the accounts. Who played the key role in His death? Who sought His death to preserve their power? Who decided His death would be the price for preserving the status quo? Who went to the hated Roman governor to make sure it happened?

Enter the religious leaders of the day. However one interprets Scripture, one thing stands out: Jesus disturbed the religious power structure. He disturbed those who were sure of their place within this structure, who were sure they had the inside track to God, who claimed as their birthright their chosen station before God and in turn dismissed those who were different, whom they considered sinners and outcasts,

Jesus did not make friends of the religious leaders when He called them hypocrites who travel the world to make a convert and then turn that convert into a “…son of hell, worse than yourselves.” Nor did He please those He called blind guides, persons who tithe but do not fulfill what is important in the Law: justice, mercy and faith. Religious leaders described as whitewashed tombs beautiful in appearance but inside filled with dead bones and uncleanness definitely would not appreciate such a prophet. (cf. Mt.23:13-28)

I know that many persons were deeply moved by the depiction of Christ’s suffering in the movie, The Passion of Christ.

But we need to ask why His Passion happened. This event demands a deeper look beyond one’s emotions and the vague idea that it was caused by “my sins.”

These Scripture accounts have, for decades, forced me to face somewhat unpleasant and challenging questions, questions which continue to help me grow in my journey of faith. Do I standwiththereligiousleadersofJesus’day?AmIablindguide; doIavoidjustice,mercy,andfaith;amIawhitewashedtomb?

Or am I self-satisfied with my faith, viewing a glorious Easter only as the conquering of death resulting in my salvation?

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