Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hidden Message of the Crucifixion

Before reading this article, please read Luke chapter 23. 

Do you consider yourself a Christian, Zionist or both? The crucifixion of Christ addresses this topic, and though not expressly mentioned in the Scripture - below are some deductions that support a hidden message of the crucifixion.

This involves Barabbas, Pilate, the two criminals and Sanhedrin.

To begin, we must realize that Barabbas was likely a zealot leader (v19). He was probably facing crucifixion around the same time as Jesus, and he was well-known amongst the Israelites and the Roman government. There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of zealots that were killed or captured by Romans up to that point, and the fact that the people and Pilate knew this zealot by name meant he was a leader. Zealots who killed Romans were charged with murder, but Barabbas was charged with murder + insurrection.

This is why Pilate was also against Christ's execution: Jesus was innocent and a condemned criminal was about to be let out free on the streets again.

Just to shed some light on crucifixion, it was an ultimate form of capital punishment: a slow, torturous death that humiliated and prolonged the agony of its victim. It was also a 'public' form of punishment with the purpose of sending a message to the people to never do what this criminal had done. The Romans crucified enemies of the state - in this case, zealots who were fighting against the occupiers. This is why I believe the two convicts crucified alongside Jesus were also zealots.

In the ESV, Mark and Matthew label them 'robbers' and Luke calls them 'criminals.' I have yet to find another instance in Israel (before, during and after Pilate's governorship) where thievery alone resulted in crucifixion, so there has to be more than this. 

If they were only robbers, then they likely were caught stealing from the Romans. Perhaps they were trying to steal weapons or supplies. Whatever the charge, it is completely unlikely that the Romans sentenced these two criminals for acts of thievery against the Jews; to die as an enemy of the state meant they had to have been complicit in crimes against the Romans, so they too were likely zealots. 

Thirdly, to show his anger and and revenge against the Sanhedrin for what they compelled him do, I believe that Pilate crucified these two zealots alongside Jesus as a message that he would punish anyone who were true enemies of Rome. 

The main reason why I am writing this, is that Christ's death served to show us that his primary mission was not to establish a religious, structured regime in Israel. He wasn't there to overthrow the Roman empire and end the brutal occupation of Israel.

He came to earth to bring salvation firstly to Jews, the descendants of Abraham. Then these converts (who previously followed the law of Moses) brought salvation to the Gentiles. Now God wants the work to continue so that everyone, including the Jews - both inside and outside the land of Israel may have salvation.

I believe many Christians are confused about this. Instead of focusing on bringing the Gospel message to those whom Christ first came for, they're focused on the zealots' mission: liberating Israel from oppressors and establishing an independent state with its own government. Look at the Old Testament. Did God ever need an outside nation to come to Israel's defense, because His power was inadequate to rescue them? Were there not battles that God fought for Israel when they didn't even have to lift a single sword?

Whenever Israel was on God's side, He protected them and the nation flourished. When they turned away from Him, He lifted His protection and they paid for it with loss of life, possessions and land. 

Is Zionism what Christians should vigilantly and militantly support?

If this is what Christ came for, then that's what he would have done. But he didn't, so neither should we be focused on Zionism; we should work on continuing the ministry of Jesus Christ and bring salvation to all.

~ Jonathan D. Hodges

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