In today’s secular society, being a Christian can be an overwhelming thing. Over time, American culture has changed from somewhat conservative to exceptionally liberal, thus allowing many things that were previously unacceptable such as denying Jesus openly, same-sex marriage, drugs, and alcohol to become casually tolerated and at often times encouraged. We as Christians are faced with these pressures from society daily, but we must not conform. We are ambassadors of Christ, and we have a duty to stand up to such adversity and fight it with the word of God. Without the knowledge and wisdom that we can gain form His word: the Bible, we have no defense.
Throughout life we will be faced with decisions and choices that will
determine the type of people we become, whether the choices result in
good or bad is up to us. The Holy Bible gives us life lessons that we
can apply daily to better our character. The decision to read it and
apply it however rests solely in our hands.
Similarly the story of the Trial and Death of Jesus introduces us to
many different characters, each with different traits. Each character
in the story symbolizes a different type of person who can still be
found in today’s world.
The Chief Priests:
In the story of Jesus’ Crucifixion the Chief Priests serve as the catalysts, pushing for Jesus’ death. The Chief Priests were the leaders of the congregation; they were the transcribers of the laws and readers of the Scripture in the synagogue. Later they became interpreters of the law, both civil and religious, and so they can be considered lawyers and religious scholars. With all this power in their community, they were cautious of anything that would threaten their position. So when Jesus came along they were looking to find faults in him, and portray him as a heretic, by doing this they could remove all opposition and sustain their power over the people. The Chief Priests represent the prideful people, the cowards, unwilling to accept God. In Matthew 26: 3-5, it is written, "Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. But they said, ‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.’" This demonstrates how they from the beginning were looking to remove Jesus because he was a threat to their power, a threat to their pride, and a threat to their ego of being the most important leaders. Therefore making the chief priests unwilling to be Jesus’ followers. Not only did they plot to take and kill him, but to take him with trickery in the night, in a deserted place where there were no people. Again showing the priests’ cowardice, who were unwilling to take Jesus in front of the people, lest there be spectators who would indict them of wrongdoing. The chief priests can still be related to people today; they are like those that are arrogant, self-righteous, and full of pride. They are afraid to accept anything that threatens their power, therefore unwilling to accept God’s word, and his will in their life.
Judas, one of the twelve disciples, is the one who ends up betraying the Lord. In the plot to kill Jesus, Judas is a key instrument to the chief priests; he is the one who brings them to Jesus. All Judas asks them is ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ (Matthew 26:15). And when they offered him thirty pieces of silver, he accepted it without hesitation, and ‘So from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.’ (Matthew 26:16). Thirty pieces of silver at this time was the price of a slave. Judas in this story can be equated with the people in the world who daily betray the Lord for a little cost, a little pleasure, and a little fun. Every time we sin, every time we have the choice to do right, but do wrong, we betray God. For these little pleasures, which are of such little value, we betray our Master, who is of the greatest value. So we must choose if we are willing to sacrifice our lusts and desires of the world, in order to be loyal to our father, or will we fall and be weak as Judas was, and betray our Lord.
Another disciple we may learn from is Peter. When Jesus walked on water, Peter was the only disciple with enough courage to step off the boat and walk with Christ, teaching us faith. Peter also teaches us a valuable lesson in the story of Christ’s Crucifixion. When Jesus predicted Peter’s denial, Peter told Jesus, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny you!’ (Matthew 26:35). And as the troops led Jesus to Caiaphas, the high priest, Peter followed. Three times he was questioned, ‘You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you? And Peter quickly answered each time, I am not.’ (John 18:17) Jesus’ prediction had come to pass; Peter denied Jesus three times, and then the rooster crowed. Peter boasted to the Lord that he would remain true until the end; he said he would lay down his life for him, and he even attacked a soldier trying to arrest Christ. All of these things Peter did were among his fellow believers, and in the presence of Jesus. But when Peter was alone in public, and faced with pressure, he denied Christ. Peter was not willing to face the world’s harassment for his beliefs. Daily as Christians we are faced with similar trials. Our faith is always being put to test, and many times we are ridiculed for our beliefs, the way we respond to these tests is what sets us apart from Peter’s mistake. Because it is easy to claim Jesus at church, or in the solitude of our homes among other like-minded friends, but it can be difficult to do so in public.
Pilate, the governor of Rome, made one of the most infamous decisions in the Bible. The Jews pushing for the execution of Jesus had to go to Pilate, because the Romans did not allow the Jews to impose capital punishment. The Jewish leaders had no intention of a just trial; they just wanted the permission from Rome to have Jesus executed. The accusations they brought were frivolous. Pilate found nothing warranting death and sent them to Herod, and the same conclusion was reached. They both found innocence in Christ. Yet the Jews were persistent and threatened Pilate with his position, saying that he was no friend of Caesar, and would not allow another man to claim a higher power than Caesar. Pilate told the multitude, ‘I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; no, either did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by him. I will therefore chastise Him and release Him’ (Luke 23:14-16). Yet the crowd insisted, instigated by the chief priests, crying out ‘Crucify Him!’ (Luke 23:20). Pilate again questioned them, ‘But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.’ (Luke 23:23). Pilate then released Barabbas, and gave Jesus to them to their own will. Pilate feared the will of the people, and although he knew Jesus was innocent, he crumbled in the face of the public outcry. Their shouts prevailed and Pilate granted their demands. Therefore Pilate was just as guilty as the people and the chief priests, because he gave in to their appeals. To draw the parallel to today, we have the power to keep the name of Christ from being crucified by people, so we must not compromise and sell our Lord because we are afraid of the pressures of society.
The multitude in the story of Christ’s Crucifixion began by joyously greeting Jesus into Jerusalem. As Jesus made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, he asked his disciples to get him a donkey, and when they did, ‘a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! …’ (Matthew 21:8-9). The multitudes, refers to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who all gathered around to watch the glorious entry of Jesus, which literally caused the city to shake. The people of the city welcomed Jesus with open arms and an open heart, then why the sudden change? Jesus, whom they thought of as a prophet, taught them many things, but with these teachings came envy from the chief priests. The main reason why the multitude abandoned Jesus was because of the chief priests’ influence. The chief priests would constantly question his authority, and teachings, trying to portray make him slip, yet they failed every time. Their only success came when they arrested Jesus in the garden and brought up many false charges against him. Accusing him of being a blasphemer, they swayed the multitudes against him. Throughout the trial, the crowd was weak-willed and followed the chief priests with whatever they said, like sheep; they moved whichever way they were pushed. When Pilate gave them the option of letting Barabbas go free in replace of Jesus, ‘the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus’ (Matthew 27:20). The crowd’s weak will allowed them to be easily swayed by the high priests. Anything suggested by the chief priests became supported by the people. When they suggested him to be put to death, the people again shouted for Jesus’ execution. The most obvious lesson that can be learned from the people of Jerusalem is that we must be strong in our faith and beliefs; we must be firm and unwavering. When we are lead away from the truth and filled with lies, we must not follow blindly as the multitude did, but we must stand strong, and stay loyal to our faith.
Jesus Christ, our savior gave his life for us on the cross, in order to give us salvation. All what the holy prophets predicted happened, and Christ was crucified for our sins. And from the beginning Jesus knew that it was coming, as they journeyed into Jerusalem Jesus took his twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day he will rise again’ (Matthew 19:18-19). Jesus clearly knew all that was destined for him, yet he continued on the path to receive his fate. With all the injustice facing Jesus, he did not lose confidence in his mission. He was spit on and slapped by the very people he was saving. Jesus was unjustly convicted and sentenced to death by crucifixion for crimes he did not commit. The tragedy was that justice did not prevail in this case, and the blindness of sin caused the people to reject its savior. Yet Jesus did not fight these false accusations or charges put against him, and did not try to defend himself, he just accepted God’s will. As Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane, and Peter stuck a soldier, Jesus told him to put away his sword, and said to him, "’ do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and he will provide Me more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the scriptures be fulfilled, that it might happen thus?’ (Matthew 26:53-54). Jesus could have easily prevented the whole ordeal from happening, yet he did not because he had to be sacrificed to take cleanse us from our sins. Jesus shows his submission to God when he prays in the garden as he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will’ (Matthew 14:36). Again showing how determined Jesus was to following the destiny that was set before him by his father. And as the ultimate fate of Jesus comes to pass, he does not have any desire to get revenge, yet he simply says, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do’ (Luke 23:34). Teaching us not only that we should always accept the will of God above our own desires, no matter what the situation, but again emphasize that we should love our enemies and those who persecute us just as we love ourselves.
Therefore we must learn from the Crucifixion of Jesus on more than one level. Although it is time of mourning, fasting, and praying, we should also meditate with ourselves about what type of person we are, and who we want to be. Will we be like the chief priests, who are full of pride, and incapable of accepting God? Will decide to be as Judas who betrayed Christ? Will we choose to be as Peter was, and deny Jesus? Will we take the path of Pilate, and crumble under the pressures of society? Will we be as the multitude, and blindly be lead astray? Or will we choose to be as our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the perfect example of the way we should all live our lives.