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Crucifixion

2nd May 2013, hej

 

4) The hour of Darkness

All along, right from the time of the events in his home town Nazareth, there was hatred and attempts to entrap and stone him. However the chief priests and scribes were the most dangerous as they plotted but were careful to be seen to be doing 'right'.


A possible misconception is that somehow it was God who caused it. It was indeed prophesied that he would die, but so is much evil was also prophesied which came to pass by evil men. An example is,

Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD! (Isaiah 31:1)

Even though the prophecy was given, they went to Egypt for help and the woe came upon them. God did not make them go down to Egypt, but knowing their nature God said they would. In such a way the Lord said he would be killed, and even noted precisely by whom he would be killed,

Saying, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.” (Luke 9:22)
And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, “The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again.” And they were exceeding sorry. (Matt. 17:22-23)
Saying, “Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.” (Mark 10:33-34)

It was not only that he should die but that his death be by being 'lifted up”

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: (John 3:14)
Jesus answered and said, “This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince (Greek: archon from first, chief) of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. “This he said, signifying what death he should die. (John 12:30-33)

There is clearly expressed the idea of 'the chief ruler of this world' which, as Greek has differences in labels for rulers, virtually names the Chief priests, who are told to their faces they are also the power of darkness,

Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. (Luke 22:52-53)

The clear point is that power is given to them by God allow them to carry out their evil. They took him at night. He tells Peter a fact we need to take note of,

Think you that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (Matthew 26:53-54)

To underline the point about the power of darkness, there was a report of darkness over the land until his death. This was their hour, the hour where power was given to the leadership in Jerusalem at that time. The Roman authority shows a consistency with the reported acts of violence of Pilate to control the restless common people in Judea, that shows they not sure what to do with the Jewish leadership. See how the leadership shifts their claim,

The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.
Then saith Pilate unto him, Speak thou not unto me? know thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?
Jesus answered, Thou could have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee has the greater sin.
And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar. (John 19:7-12)

The fact that the Jewish leadership is said to sin, indicates the situation, that it was human will to do this. That Pilate had sin too is implied, but Pilate had much sin already in the blood spilt his unjust rule. They may have been prevented from sinning by God's intervention, but in this case it was to play out how the Jewish leadership wanted it, and how Pilate, a cynical representative Roman rule, felt they had to play the situation as this was their predicted behaviour in 'their hour'. If given a choice base human nature seeks that their political power should prevail. This will not be the last time that, even with evidence of miracles, human leadership will seek to kill a leader appointed by God. The reason for the crucifixion is that the Son of God was to be a king of the Jews, and with this future the political religious power of the Jewish leadership of the temple, and the Roman authority they used as leverage for their power, was challenged. They saw an opening and took it. Paul, who indeed knew the rulers of Jerusalem, and had joined with them said,

For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. (Acts 13:27)

The real failing of the religious leaders and those in Jerusalem at that time was their lack of knowledge of the prophets combined with a love of the political power that they had clawed from the Romans. This leads to their actions. The involvement of God was to allow what he had known would happen when he sent one to witness of their works,

Then Jesus said unto them, My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hates, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil. (John 7:6-7)

It would not be hard to know this would happen, to predict it, if you knew the hearts of humans. It had happened before. It had occurred from the time of Abel to Zechariah (Luke 11:51). God had not prevented the proud and unjust killing the just.


The challenge to us is to ask ourselves honestly, do we hear when we are told our works are evil (do we do good all the time)? Would leaders now accept being told their works are evil? The crucifixion and the stake represent the power of those who have seized power, and what they do when they are crossed. There was no love there, only lust for power, pride, hate and weakness. Seeing what needed to be done and knowing the outcome, a just man who had done no wrong, submitted to their treatment because his Father in heaven asked him to do so as he said to John in the matter of his baptism, “Suffer it now: for thus it becomes us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).


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