Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Was Jesus innocent?

A unclean officer of the occupying oppressor (the coalition of the wanting),
the dreamy (or at least dreaming) wife of his superior (a brutal and dishonest man),
and, (perhaps until the twentieth century) the most reviled and maligned name in history:
what do they have in common?

They all thought Jesus was innocent (Matt 27.4, 19; Luke 23.47); two of them even tried to do something about it. Such an impressive list of witnesses; anyone who'd read Luther's Heidelburg Disputation could wax eloquent (or at least verbose) about the divine verdict hidden sub contrario. With witnesses like these, perhaps we're meant to be all the more struck by how historical or how true their verdict must be, just like having [gasp] women as the first apostles of the resurrection.

But were they right?

Jesus' official charge notice read 'the king of the Jews'. While loony anti-Semites might think that the latter bit is enough, obviously it's the 'king' bit that's the problem. You don't go around trying to undermine the forces of democracy, er, imperialism. The two crucified with him were called lestes, which has traditionally been rendered 'thieves', 'robbers', or more blandly 'criminals'. But much more likely, they were specifically 'bandits' or even 'revolutionaries', violent men who didn't recognise the authority of Rome. Perhaps even men who hoped that God would be king rather than Caesar, or at least God's man, rather than some gentile from a distant land. Jesus was not charged with being a thief; he was a political rival, 'another king', as Paul later paraphrased his message. The secret of his 'kingdom of God', the one he kept stopping people from blabbing, was that he was king.

Jesus, charged for sedition against Rome, of being 'king of the Jews', of undermining Caesar's authority: guilty as charged?
Eight points for guessing which special day of the year this shot was taken.

7 comments:

boxthejack said...

Great post - I missed this somewhere along the line. I was very challenged by Walsh and Keesmaat on the anti-imperialist manifesto that Paul's letters constitute, with their origins in Christ's witness.

Yes guilty as charged. My Christian walk is just a bit too 'innocent'.

Anthony said...

New Year's Day?

byron said...

Nope.

Michael Canaris said...

Good Friday?

byron said...

That would have been particularly apt, but no.

Anthony said...

New day, new guess. Christmas Day.

byron said...

There were only so many options. Someone had to stumble upon it before too long.

What were the chances that it would be you... :-)

Eight points.