Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 1, No. 3 Page 10 March 1999

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Who Killed Jesus?

By Steve Cordle

[Knight Arnold News, Memphis, TN, Vol. 23, No. 15, April 15, 1997, pp. 2, 4.]
The Jesus Seminar is at it again. It seems that when Easter and Christmas times come around, the popular media starts running stories about Jesus and whether he existed and whether the Gospel accounts are reliable records of the life of Christ. The primary source of information for the popular media to get information about Jesus and the New Testament is the so-called Jesus Seminar.

The Seminar is a group of liberal scholars who deny many of the basic truths of Christianity. In the Indianapolis Star (Mar. 26, 1996), there appeared an article entitled "Scholar says issue of 'Who killed Jesus?' has affected Jewish-Christian relations." The article quoted John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar speaking on the issue of the death of Christ. The statements attributed to Mr. Crossan contain many errors of fact, especially in regard to biblical teaching. The errors are outlined as follows:

Error: "Crossan concludes that Jesus was killed because He preached 'radical egalitarianism' in an age when the Roman Empire oppressed His people--peasant Jews."

Fact: Jesus did not die because of Roman oppression of the Jewish people. Jesus died to save mankind from sins. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said he came to seek and save that which was lost. After Christ's resurrection He told the apostles that it was necessary for Christ to die and that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name, to all nations" (Luke 24:46-47).

Error: "Jesus' message about the kingdom of God was not about heaven, it was about life on this earth."

Fact: The kingdom of which Jesus spoke was about heaven. When on trial before Pilate, Jesus was asked if He were a king. The Lord's reply was: "My kingdom is not of this world, if it were, then my servants would fight" (John 18:36). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encouraged people to lay up treasures in heaven, not on earth where they can be damaged or destroyed (Matthew 6:19-21). Throughout the Gospel, believers are encouraged to look toward heaven and the reward that awaits us there, not to look for a kingdom or reward on earth.

Error: "[The message of Jesus] was deeply rooted in Jewish tradition and in the Jewish people's struggle for freedom from slavery in Egypt."

Fact: Jesus' message was not rooted in Jewish tradition as much as it was divine inspiration. In Matthew 17, God Himself stated that Jesus is His Son and we are to listen to Him, not the Old Testament prophets or the Law of Moses.

Error: "Jesus called upon his heritage to oppose Roman rule . . ."

Fact: That statement is a big error. Crossan blatantly contradicts what the Bible teaches about Christ and the Roman government. Jesus never once encouraged anybody to oppose Roman rule. In fact the opposite is true. In Matthew 22:15-22, when asked if it was proper to pay taxes to Caesar, Jesus said to "render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." In 1 Peter 2:13-18, Peter said for Christians to obey the government, including Rome.

Error: "[Jesus] called on his disciples to work for systematic change."

Fact: If Crossan is speaking of political change, he is wrong. Jesus never addressed the issue of political involvement or so-called "social justice" issues that many liberal theologians get involved in.

Error: "Jews were often demonized by the authors of the gospels."

Fact: It is true that certain of the Jews were looked at in an unfavorable light. But, it is with good reason. It was the Pharisees and Sadducees that were the main opponents of Christ. Many of the common Jewish people as a whole believed in Christ, until they wee instigated to turn on Him by various false witnesses at His trial.

The bottom line is that anyone who tries to accuse the Jewish people of being the sole cause of Christ's crucifixion does not understand Scripture. All people, whether Jew or Gentile are responsible. It was sin that sent Jesus to the cross. All have sinned (Romans 3:23). Jesus said that His message had to go to all nations, not just the Jewish nation (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:44-48). Remember, it was for the whole world that Jesus gave his life.

For a decade, the Jesus Seminar has been attacking the truth of Scripture and the fact that it is God's revelation to mankind. The people who make up this body seem to lack respect for biblical authority or truth. The members of the Seminar decide which sections of Scripture belong in the inspired Writ by casting subjective votes. They throw out most anything that hints of miracles and some material that has nothing to do with the miraculous. The Seminar has decided that Judas did not betray Christ, or at least the charges would not stick. I guess the inspired account of the four gospel writers means nothing to these heretics.

I would encourage anyone looking for Bible answers to go to the Bible, not to theologians who seek to weaken Bible truth. We Christians have a greater burden to bear in that we must stay on top of the attacks on the faith so that we can always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us.

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