Ministry and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ Part 3

About the ministry and crucifixion of Jesus Christ the central figure and Son of God in the Christian religion, a partial biography, history, and look at his life and teachings.


WHEN: 27-30 A.D.

As his reputation as a healer and miracle worker spread, the apprehension of his adversaries increased. Turning water into wine was one thing, but raising Lazarus from the dead was something else. It soon became evident to both the Romans and the Sanhedrin, the highest ecclesiastical council of the Jews, that this man was going to have to be dealt with. "If we let him go on thus, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy places and our nation" (John 11:48). And the high priest Caiaphas went on, "You know nothing at all. You do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish" (John 11:49-53). From that time on, the Sanhedrin worked on ways to put an end to Jesus legally.

During February, 30 A.D., notice was given that anyone knowing the whereabouts of Jesus should notify the authorities so that he might be apprehended, but he remained secluded, having decided that the Passover period would be more appropriate for the end that he knew was in store for him. A week before Passover, Jesus began his return to Jerusalem, and on the way, his path led to the summit of the Mount of Olives. He was joined by a multitude of pilgrims who escorted him in a solemn procession, expecting that he would intervene in their behalf politically.

When he reached the city, he spent several days teaching and healing in the temple, but was not arrested immediately because the authorities wanted to avoid a major incident. Instead, they plotted ways to take him quietly. It was at this point that Judas Iscariot offered his services for "30 pieces of silver."

Jesus and his apostles met to celebrate the Seder, or Passover Supper, at the house of a friend in Jerusalem. He was aware that one of the disciples present had betrayed him and openly accused Judas during the course of the evening. He was apparently reconciled to what he knew was to take place, but was anxious that it happen according to his schedule. When the supper was over, he and his followers went outside the city to the Garden of Gethsemane, where they hid in order to avoid immediate arrest. But a detachment of temple guards found them, and when Judas identified Jesus by kissing him on the cheek, Jesus was arrested and taken back to the city for trial.

It was still dark when Jesus was taken before Caiaphas. The Jews were so anxious to get the trial under way that they had already heard witnesses against Jesus, and when Caiaphas asked him, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of God?" Jesus is said to have answered, "I am He." That was just about all they needed. They met again in the morning and delivered a verdict that found Jesus guilty of blasphemy--at that time, a capital crime.

There was a hitch, however. The pronouncement of a capital sentence was not within the authority of the Sanhedrin, since the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, was the highest authority in the city. Pilate had the reputation of being a hard man, but he was not convinced that what Jesus had done warranted so severe a sentence, and was not anxious to see the sentence carried out. But the Sanhedrin brought political pressure to bear, and in the end Pilate turned Jesus over to his persecutors, saying, "I find in him no fault at all."

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