Today, I finally got to see Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ”. It was a powerful and moving experience to see what the Pope allegedly described as“it is as it was” and for which Billy Graham wept. While it is a fiction, though based on a true story, one cannot but praise Mr. Gibson for his courage, perseverance, tenacity and indomitable spirit in producing and directing this film, in spite of headwinds in the Hollywood culture. Box-office gross revenue shows that the film was a blockbuster and still raking in profits. True to what his plan was, Mel emphasized, as best he could in a graphic way, the physical torture Jesus suffered in the hands of Roman soldiers before his death.
That Jesus died as a propitiation for the sins of all humanity, past-present-future, is a basic Christian doctrine known to many. That he paid with his own pristine life for the penalty of sin, which is death, for the whole humanity to be reconciled to God the FATHER is well known and has been emphasized for sometime. That he existed as LOGOS prior to his human birth is a well-accepted tenet among Christians, testified to in John 1:1. However, the truth and significance of Jesus’ death came to be understood only later and mainly through the exegesis of Paul. But, what has not come to the radar screen and scrutiny of established religion are the reasons known at that time that got Jesus killed in the first place. What was the rallying force that made the people at that time to come together in unison to kill him? What did Caiaphas, the High Priest, know and what role did he play to bring to finality the death of Jesus Christ? The truth will surprise anyone who is bold enough to open his/her eyes and ears to these facts written in the Bible, yet not emphasized. Knowing the truth will give us proper perspective on who we are, our destiny, what our attitude and behavior in this life should be.
Consider the following:
Reason #1: Blasphemy
In John 10:30-35, one reads that Jesus was being stoned for blasphemy. This was also the only accusation against him before the Sanhedrin, Pilate and Herod, that had unifying and broad support of the masses. What was this blasphemy? Coming from his accusers, they said,“you being man ( flesh-and-blood) make yourself God.” Yes, it was blasphemy to them for someone who is human to claim he is “god”. All through the ages, the people at that time were taught that God is spirit. Yet, they saw Jesus, flesh-composed, as human as they were. Also, they were grounded on the Shema doctrine that Lord God/YHVH Elohim is one. How then could Jesus also be God? That would make God more than one, a claim that was unfathomable to them. Naturally, the people were seething mad and came together as an angry mob to kill him. As expected as that reaction was from the masses, what was more poignant and amazing was how Jesus retorted. He said, ” Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods?, and the scripture can not be broken”. Let us pause at this time, evaluate, analyze and think what Jesus just said. Christ, the reservoir of truth, the one who was with the Father from the foundation of the world, the way-the-truth-and-the-life, classified man ( even as flesh/composed, not spirit-composed) as…what?…god!
Putting it plainly, Jesus was correcting their mistaken understanding of what the meaning of the word “god” is. Even while flesh-and-blood (man), they are also “gods”. Jesus, even as man, is also classified as “god” and therefore not committing blasphemy. That was a new revelation to them. Basic Christianity teaches that we were created to be in the kingdom of God and that we were created to be like Christ. But, no one in memory have I heard in any organized religion that says man is classified as god, i.e., already in the God-kind while still in the flesh as Christ was. Man is classified in the God-kind, in the kingdom of God and not in any other kingdoms like the “plant-kingdom” nor “animal kingdom”.
When one goes back to the narrative in Genesis, it is obvious that after non- living objects were created, viz., the cosmos, God subsequently created living things, i.e., plants, water animals and land animals. And, they were to reproduce only after their own kind, i.e., principle of Genetics. Plants can only have plants after their image/likeness or “plant-kind“, as animals can only beget animals after the “animal-kind“. Then, God said, ” Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (1). And so, man became in the “image of God”. Notice that living things like plants reproduce after their own plant-kind, as animals reproduce after their own animal-kind. While there are many species of plants and animals in their particular “kingdom” or “family”, they are all unique in each class. A rose-plant cannot become an hydrangea-plant, as it is impossible for a dog to beget a cat. And, when it came to man, the reproduction was not after the plant-kind nor the animal kind but in the“god-kind”, as in, “..man after our image…” (2). Notice, in the god-image, not in the man-image, even for the sake of argument of paleontologists that there was man before Adam. Indeed, as plants in the plant-kingdom are called plants, and animals in the animal-kingdom are called animals, so man in the god-kind can rightfully be called and classified as “god”. This was what Jesus testified to about man, as in, “…I said ye are gods…”(John 10:34). Our Creator God has planned and is in the process of reproducing the god-kind through man, a template. Truly, man is in the “phylum, class or kingdom” of God, in the god-kind, in the kingdom-of-God. And this august status of man was planned by God from the very beginning of time, even before we were born, even before you and I have done anything right or wrong. What a marvelous gift from God to put us in that high-esteem and category among his creation, a manifest expression of his love and grace for all humanity! This is why our attitude, behavior and responses must be consistent with one being in the “family or kingdom of God”.
Blasphemy was the charge for which Jesus was condemned to death. Classifying man as god was “blasphemy”for which Jesus was crucified. To them at that time (and even currently), that revelation of Jesus was farthest from the truth. Actually, according to Jesus, the Savior (3), he was god as Logos/Creator (4) before his incarnation, was god as man/Immanuel(5), was god as Christ(6)/ human/flesh, and still is God as High Priest Melchizedek(7)/resurrected Son of God/spirit and in the “right hand” of the Father God. His “deity” did not change; it was his body that changed from flesh-composed to spirit-composed, from “mortal-to-immortal”. For centuries and for many generations, we were distracted from the focus man’s destiny deserves.
Reason # 2: Caiaphas knew Jesus as the Messiah
In John 11:47-53, one finds that there was a debate as to what do with“blasphemous Jesus”. Then, Caiaphas who was the High-Priest at that Passover time “prophesied” that Jesus should die for that nation, the children of God scattered abroad, v-52, and the whole world (8). Notice, killed for the nation as well as “other nations”. That suggests that Caiaphas considered this role of Jesus as Messiah Savior. As a High Priest at that time, he must have orchestrated, then convinced and mobilized the chief priests and Pharisees about who Jesus was and implemented a plan of killing this true human-Passover( not an animal/lamb Passover) at the right time, day and year that many lambs were being slaughtered in Jerusalem. As High-Priest bound by his annual duty, he plotted to kill the Passover to be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of all. Only the High-Priest can offer this Passover sacrifice through the “holy-of-holies” ( the 3rd segment of Jerusalem temple, a type or foreshadow of the 3rd heaven abode of the Father), once a year for all Israel. When “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (9), this signifies Jesus’ flesh/body (10) being torn and the blood of the true Passover offered to the Father through the anti-type or real “holy-of-holies”by Jesus (the true High Priest) himself after resurrection. Yes, from Caiaphas himself came the testimony that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah/Passover. All Israel and the world must take heed. No need to wait for another Messiah. Jesus is the Messiah/Passover for all.
In summary, Jesus was killed for:
1. An erroneous and concocted charge of blasphemy and the failure of those people at that time to accept the truth about this concept of the God-kingdom, i.e., that man (as flesh as Jesus was) belongs to the god-kind and can accurately be called god or classified in the “phylum, class or kingdom” of god. Jesus, even as man/flesh, did not commit any sin, much less the sin of blasphemy, by classifying himself as god, as He did others. The Logos/Word/Creator (4) took off his spirit-body, but not his deity, and became man ” to be obedient unto death” (11). Otherwise, without incarnation as human, he would not have died (12). Jesus was “created into the image of God”, as man was (13). He is the precursor (the ” beginning-and-the-end, the Alpha and the Omega the one who started and will bring to fruition) for the creation of the god-kind, god-kingdom. This concept that man should be classified as god is not dissimilar to the fact that, as we were created as flesh, and so Jesus had to. As we are humans, so did Jesus incarnate and became human. We will follow the path of our leader, “author and finisher” of our salvation(14). After death, Jesus subsequently “changed”into spirit-body, as others will, being similarly promised. First, Jesus (the first/best of firstfruits/wavesheaf), then the“firstfruits” (15), at his coming to start the Millenium, then finally after the Millenium the “latter-fruits” in “a twinkling of an eye” (16) from mortal to immortal, from flesh to spirit-body. He is our Elder Brother(17) and we are members of his body, the “church”. Indeed, among the “gods“, there is none like him (18), the YHVH/Creator God Jesus; He is God of all Gods and Lord of all Lords (19) in the Old Testament. We should bow to no other gods (20) but YHVH in Old Testament times. When this YHVH incarnated into Jesus, he introduced his Father (Father/Son relationship) and directed us to pray to Him in his name. All of us in the God-Kind, with Jesus-God, will subsequently in the “new heaven and earth” kneel down and worship only the sovereign Father God (21).
2. Being the True Passover/Messiah.
His death is the fulfillment of the prophecy that a Passover-lamb (22) has to die and be offered as a “sweet savor” (23) for the sins of all, to reconcile (24) man to the Father. As death came to all because Adam sinned, so then his sin came to be reckoned by the Father and imputed to all (25). Conversely, Jesus’ death, which is a penalty for sin, was then imputed by the Father to all and for “many offenses”, in faith, as though we died and paid for the penalty of sin. As a Passover-Lamb, he was killed for us and his “blood cleansed us of our sins” fulfilling the “type” of narrative in Exodus when the “death-angel passed over” and did not kill the “firstborns” of Israel. His death reconciled us to the Father and initiated or began the road to our salvation, but it did not finally save us. Jesus is the “beginner and finisher” of this plan. It was his resurrection or “through his life” that empowered him to receive from the Father and subsequently send the Spirit to humans as the Father promised. Without his resurrection, the Spirit would not have been sent . Remember what he said, and I am paraphrasing, ”it is expedient that I die and be resurrected to go the Father” ? Salvation is a process brought about by and through the action of the Spirit sent to mankind for the first time at Pentecost (26) to nurture, develop and sanctify our spirit into the fullness of the “body of Christ“. Indeed, we “shall be saved through his life” (24); …”in Christ shall all be made alive” (25). He will ” finish” what he started.
As we contemplate on the agony of his suffering and mourn his death, let us rejoice in his resurrection and thank God for his love/grace and “faith of” (27) Jesus.
References: Retrieved from the Bible, King James Version.
1. Gen. 1:26. 2. Gen. 1:27. 3. Matt. 1:21. 4. John 1:1. 5. Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23
6. I John 5:1; Matt. 16:16. 7. Heb. 5-7; Ps. 110:4; Gen. 14:18. 8. I John 2:2
9. Matt 27:51. 10. Heb 10:20. 11. Phil. 2:8. 12. I Cor. 15:12. 13. Heb 2:6-9
14. Heb. 5:9; 12:2. 15. I Cor. 15:23. 16. I Cor. 15:52. 17. Heb 2:11-12
18. Ps. 86:8. 19. Deut. 10:17. 20. Ex. 20:3. 21. Eph. 3:14. 22. I Cor. 5:7
23. Gen. 8:21. 24. Rom. 5:10. 25. I Cor. 15:22. 26. Acts 2:1-4. 27.Rom.3:22
Hyperlink version/revision posted 4/17/2019 a Holy Week.