Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. – Lk. 23:34 NIV
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After all attempts by Pilate to release Jesus Christ had failed, he was left with no choice than to release him to his people as any other action of his could actually get him accused of being an accessory to crime against the State. The crowd that followed Jesus Christ into Jerusalem whilst he was riding on a donkey had been treating him like a king and were asking him to save them, which is what the “Hossanah” they were shouting means. Of course, most people will see this as the evidence of an attempt to overthrow the existing government of the Romans and intuition alone, that it is not so, will not be sufficient to excuse Pilate should such an allegation get to Rome and Pilate is accused of setting such an individual free.
The major allegations of the crowd against Jesus as incited by the Pharisees, the elders and the scribes are as follows;
- That he was subverting the nation – Lk. 23:2a. By this they meant he was undermining the power and authority of the Roman government. Definitely nothing in the activities of Jesus suggested this. There is no way his disruption of their buying and selling activities inside the Jewish temple can be considered an act of subversion to the Roman authority but that happens when people feel they have been deprived of an advantage they are not entitled to but cannot fight back on that basis – Matt. 21:12-13. They will need to frame up allegations that will set such against a powerful person who can, while defending his/her personality, unknowingly help them achieve their selfish goals. They needed the Romans to help them remove Jesus from the scene so they can continue their immoral and ungodly activities.
- That he was opposing payment of taxes to Caesar – Lk. 23:2b. Nothing can be farther from the truth. If anything, he it was that miraculously provided funds for Peter from fish to pay the taxes of both of them to the government, despite his observation that the payment was more by strangers – Matt. 17:25-27. The hypocrisy and deceit of the Pharisees and scribes in asking him whether taxes should be paid and hoping that his response would help to nail him also failed as his response became the now popular statement and position of all people, including non-Christians that Caesar should be given what belongs to him whilst God should be given what belongs to God – Mk. 12:15-17. He obviously recognised and acknowledged the importance of the Roman authorities and the need to pay tax by all but those who were determined to bring him down were not having that. Anything goes for as long as he is out of the way.
- That he claims that he is a Messiah, a king of some sort – Lk. 23:2c. When people are determined to be mischievous, they ask questions and only hear what they decide to hear. The Pharisees, elders and scribes on one occasion and Pilate on another occasion had asked if he was a king with his response more like, “you can believe what you want to believe”. They chose to believe that he admitted being a king (Lk. 22:66-71; 23:3), and that to them was enough to prove that he was planning an insurrection against the Roman authorities. It may be that his defiance played into their hands but they actually knew what they chose to believe was wrong, but just as Jesus must have thought, these were people who were determined to nail him anyway so responding in any other way will definitely have made no difference to their intention and plan.
- He uses his teachings to stir up dissension all over Judea starting from Galilee to Jerusalem – Lk. 23:5. No other accusation revealed the selfish nature of the intention of Pharisees , elders and the scribes more than this. They were no doubt, the only people that suffered some form of loss due to the teachings of Jesus. His teachings made the people aware of the oppressive and hypocritical actions of their leaders and if there was any fear of revolt by the people, it was definitely that by the ordinary folks realising the nature of their leaders and possibly deciding to reject it. In this they were very right except that it was not a crime against the State but the drawing of the attention of the people to the need to seek spiritual freedom from the deceitful, hypocritical and oppressive nature of their spiritual leaders – Matt. 23:1-36.
These were very serious allegations against the State, which if proven to be true in most climes are punishable by death. The accusers of Jesus sure did their homework very well and they actually succeeded as Pilate eventually succumbed to their demand and they took Jesus away to be crucified.
The journey was very painful and stressful but somewhere along the way, a man called Simon from Cyrene was made to help him carry the cross when it became obviously too heavy for him to continue with the journey and still carry the cross – Lk. 23:26.
Several Christians are today either involved in framing up others, Christians and non-Christians, in order to achieve their selfish goals or sustain an advantage. The position of the Almighty God with regards to this evil act is not in doubt. The major laws of God given to the Jews and by inference, the Christian today, which is called the Ten Commandments include clear instruction that forbids telling lies or bearing false witness against anyone – Exo. 20:16. All these were definitely known to the Pharisees and the scribes but they chose to conveniently forget in order to achieve their selfish and devlish intentions. Many Christians are also towing that same path today in a “the end justified the means” manner but such should know that the appropriate reward will be given in due course. Jesus pleaded with the father that such people in his own situation be forgiven because they do not know what they are doing but that may not apply to the Christian today who in most cases is aware of the implication of such acts. There is no doubt that such will reap the harvest of what was sown in multiple folds. It may even be that the situation that the Christian has found him/her self is the result of such an act. Instead of blaming the witches and wizards, such is better off asking for forgiveness from the victim of such malicious accusations and frame ups and definitely from the Lord for breaking His laws. He does not wish death for the sinner and will be willing if the repentance is honest and total – Eze. 18:23; 33:11; 2Pet. 3:9-10. If however, you are a victim of negative stories or frame upa by people and you are groaning under the cross of the malicious acts of men, there is still hope for you in Jesus Christ. Just as Simon of Cyrene became available to relieve Jesus of the pressure, the Almighty God will do same for you if you retain your faith in Him. He it is that has the ability to save you from such negative situations that the frame up has brought upon you and grant you a new lease of life. Maintain your faith in Him and your assuredly, your help is on the way. May God save us all from the malicious acts of evil people in Jesus name. Amen.