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RedDeerGuy1's avatar

What crime was Jesus charged with (P&R)?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (19453points) June 30th, 2020

That warranted the death penalty?

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15 Answers

ucme's avatar

Blasphemy, surely.
As he walked to his crucifixion he was heard to yell…“infamy, infamy, they all have it infamy!”

ragingloli's avatar

Probably sedition/treason/insurrection.

elbanditoroso's avatar

He was the Abbie Hoffman of his day. Upstart nice Jewish boy with a brain who wanted to change things, and so the establishment (of the time) wanted to kill him.

Many parallels to Abbie Hoffman.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Here’s an interesting opinion piece:

The charge under Roman law was treason, and under Herodian law blasphemy against the Temple.

Strauss's avatar

_Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:

He was accused of calling himself “King of the Jews.” That’s why many times when you see a crucifix ( not just a cross) in addition to the image of Jesus nailed to the cross, you might see a banner that says “I N R I”. In Latin, that would stand for “Iesu Nomine, Rex Iudei” which translates to “Jesus is his name, King of the Judeans.”

LostInParadise's avatar

I find it surprising that nobody has cited a passage in the New Testament explaining why Jesus was killed and punished by crucifixion. This is such a central central event in Christianity, I have not seen anything to suggest that Jesus opposed Roman law. He saw himself as a religious leader, not a political one. The Romans allowed the Jews to practice their religion. Why should they care if Jesus said he was the King of the Jews?

I found this article that says that it is unclear what the Romans charged Jesus with.

Strauss's avatar

The situation was put forth fairly succinctly in the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” when the High Priest sings,

“We have no law to put a man to death,
“We turn to Rome to sentence Nazareth.”

LostInParadise's avatar

That still leaves open what the Romans charged him with. The Romans could not try Jesus for blasphemy against Judaism.

The Jews would later try to rebel against the Romans, but this is not related to Jesus or Christianity.

zenvelo's avatar

Our Lord was arrested and tried before the Sanhedrin, presided over by the High Priest Caiphas. Responding to their questions, He proclaimed, “Soon you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mt 26:64). For this statement, He was condemned to death for blasphemy, and was then spat upon, slapped, and mocked. While the Sandhedrin could condemn our Lord to death, it lacked the authority to execute; only Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, could order an execution.

The Jewish leaders, therefore, took Jesus to Pilate. Notice how the charge changed: The Jewish leaders told Pilate, “We found this man subverting our nation, opposing the payment of taxes to Caesar, and calling Himself the Messiah, a king” (Lk 23:2). What happened to the charge of blasphemy? Pilate did not care if Jesus wanted to be a messiah, a prophet, or a religious leader; however, if Jesus wanted to be a king, He threatened the authority of Caesar. Any act of rebellion, treason or subversion has to be punished quickly and severely. So Pilate asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (Lk 23:3).

Pilate could not find conclusive evidence to condemn Jesus. Pilate challenged the chief priests, the ruling class, and the people, “I have examined Him in your presence and have no charge against Him arising from your allegations” (Lk 23:14). When offering to release a prisoner, Pilate asked the crowd about Jesus: “What wrong is this man guilty of? I have not discovered anything about Him that calls for the death penalty?” (Lk 23:22). Even Pilate’s wife pleaded with him not to interfere in the case of “that holy man” (Mt 27:19).

Pilate then had Jesus scourged (Jn 19:1). The Romans used a short whip (flagrum or flagellum) with several single or braided leather thongs. Iron balls or hooks made of bones or shells were placed at various intervals along the thongs and at their ends. The person was stripped of his clothing and whipped along the back, buttocks and legs. The scourging ripped the skin and tore into the underlying muscles, leaving the flesh in bloody ribbons. The victim verged on circulatory shock and the blood loss would help determine how long he would survive on the cross. To enhance the scourging of our Lord, the soldiers added other tortures: crowning Him with thorns, dressing Him in a purple cloak, placing a reed in His right hand, spitting upon Him, and mocking Him, “All hail, king of the Jews!” (Mt 27:27–31).

After the scourging, Pilate again presented Christ to the crowd who chanted, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Fearing a revolt, Pilate capitulated and handed over Jesus to be crucified. The Romans had perfected crucifixion, which probably originated in Persia, to produce a slow death with the maximum amount of pain. Crucifixion was reserved for the worst of criminals. This punishment was so awful that Cicero (d. 43 BC) introduced legislation in the Roman Senate exempting Roman citizens from crucifixion; this is why St. Paul was beheaded rather than crucified for being a Christian.

Demosthenes's avatar

Looks like this has been answered, but I’ll add my take. Blasphemy was the charge put forth by the Sanhedrin, and sedition seems to the charge the Romans charged him with (although this is not explicitly stated in the sources, so we can only infer). Pilate of course wouldn’t have been interested in blasphemy but he would’ve been concerned about anyone calling themselves a “king”. It was whether or not Jesus thought himself a “king” that Pilate wanted to get to the bottom of. What’s interesting is how Pilate is portrayed as being skeptical but ultimately supportive of Jesus’ execution in Mark, but is portrayed more and more sympathetically in the later Gospels. In John, Pilate straight up tells the Jews to crucify Jesus themselves; he wants absolutely nothing to do with it and actively tries to free Jesus. Whereas in Mark he kind of shrugs and lets it happen. The later Gospels intend to emphasize the blameworthiness of the Jews for Jesus’ death (esp. Matthew 27:25 with the “blood curse”).

Jeruba's avatar

Pilate said he didn’t find Jesus guilty of anything. But don’t forget how Barabbas figured in the tale.

Mark 15:6–15 (NRSV):

Pilate Hands Jesus over to Be Crucified

Now at the festival he [Pilate] used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” They shouted back, “Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.

[Boldface added.]

After that, Pilate performed the gesture that gave us the expression “I wash my hands of it.” (Matt. 27:24)

seawulf575's avatar

@zenvelo covered much of it. The Sanhedrin claimed it was blasphemy when, in reality, he was just showing the people how corrupt the church elders had gotten. Pilate was the only person that could assign a punishment and “blasphemy” against the Jewish temple wasn’t on his radar of punishable offenses. I suspect that Pilate, after talking to Jesus, felt very uneasy about sentencing this person to any punishment. I think he gave the flogging as a way to keep the peace with the Jewish leaders. They weren’t happy with that, though. They wanted Jesus dead and no longer a thorn in their side. Pilate tried to side-step them by going directly to the people offering the Barabbas or Jesus as the prisoner he would release. He didn’t really count on the Sanhedrin working up the mob with all sorts of lies about Jesus.

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