Why was Jesus executed? In answering this question in historical terms, we must first look at the events leading up to his arrest and ultimately, his execution. We know that Jesus performed that symbolic gesture of “cleansing” the temple, by overturning the money changers tables, and most believe that this act was symbolic of destruction, not purification. Paula Fredrickson, author of From Jesus to Christ writes: “Through this disruptive gesture, Jesus symbolically enacted the enpending apocalyptic destruction of the Temple…that God’s kingdom was at hand.” So basically, his gesture, as Fredrickson states: “would have been readily understood by any Jew watching, as a statement that the Temple was about to be destroyed by God, and accordingly that the present order was about to cede to the Kingdom of God.”
So in doing this, Jesus obviously made a lot of people mad. Most obviously were the chief priests in the temple because he did it during Passover (one of the holiest holidays), knowing Pontius Pilate was around for crowd control, and to announce so liberally that the freedom of their people was at hand, would incite a threat to the Roman stronghold. It is known that Pontius Pilate was not a nice guy to begin with, and he was not happy to be in Jerusalem during its most crowded time of the year. Passover is a holiday celebrating the Jews freedom from slavery, so he was there as crowd control. Paula Fredrickson states in an interview: “He had a reputation for crucifying untried prisoners…Pilate was legally responsible to be in Jerusalem when it was most crowded. He was in a bad mood already when he got into town…hearing that someone was a trouble maker would be enough.” So all he needed to do was find someone to take his frustrations out on. Enter Jesus. The priests basically handed him over to Pilate. In the gospel of Luke, the priests call Jesus a blasphemer. Was he turned...
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