Was Christ Innocent?

People say that Jesus was an innocent man, undeserving of death. I honestly question that; and please let me explain before you castigate me.

When has anyone ever been killed for loving someone else? When has anyone ever been killed for doing good deeds? When have you ever been persecuted for an act of love?

My guess is never.

Never have I been persecuted for strictly an act of love. I would even go as far to say that I have always been commended when I act lovingly.

I must clarify here, when I say an “act of love” I mean along the lines of extending grace. Forgiving someone for what they have done to me, apologizing for something I have done to them, offering comfort to the broken-hearted, feeding the hungry, letting the little ones come to me, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And I’m not talking about “tough love.” Saying “No” to someone you care about. I mean a sacrificial extension of myself towards another.

I would also argue that no where in the Bible is Jesus persecuted or reprimanded for an act of love.

What DOES get Jesus in trouble is when he confronts and opposes “authority.” When he points out the hypocrisy and shortcomings of the elite. When he stands up to the religious and political officials on behalf of the oppressed and persecuted.

One half of Jesus’ “mission” was to announce the coming and arrival of The Kingdom of Heaven. A Kingdom that directly opposes all other kingdoms that desire our allegiance.

Common lore tells us that Jesus was hung on a cross between two “thieves,” but any quick reading on Roman crucifixion will tell you that it was an especially shameful death reserved for “enemies of the state” in order to exert “authority and control over the population.” Crucifixion was how Rome dealt with political rebellions.

Jesus was charged before Pilate as a political insurrectionist; his followers called him the “Son of God,” a title reserved for Caesar. The blasphemy Jesus committed was not against God, but against Rome.

NOW, if you have read Luke’s story of the trial carefully you have noticed that Pilate calls Jesus innocent over and over again. Here is where the question comes from.

In the end, we all know that Jesus was crucified. Do Pilate’s words proclaiming innocence outweigh his actions of turning Jesus over to be crucified by the Romans?

Was Jesus, in fact, innocent and undeserving of the Cross? Or was he the leader of a political rebellion, justifying the punishment used?

Answering either of those questions takes great time and thought, and in the end may change your whole perspective of the person of Jesus Christ. Do not make your judgement hastily.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Was Christ Innocent?

  1. Ben H

    If God became fully human in Jesus the Christ, is not an undeniable characteristic of humanity sinfulness? So does God become “all the way” human to the point of knowing sin, or did God become only “part way” human? How seriously do you fathom the incarnation?

  2. Thought provoking…

    I think you only need to look at our recent past in the U.S. to find many examples of people being persecuted for “acts of love.” Civil Rights movement immediately comes to mind.

    And in religious circles I’m afraid many “innocent acts of love” are still the cause of much undue persecution today.

  3. There are a few things that come to mind almost immediately in response to this…i will state as much and attempt to come back to this later after more thought….these are things to consider, not absolutions

    First off i question the person who tells me they have never wittnessed someone persecuted for an act of love. anyone killed or harmed for standing against injustice is just that-someone harmed for demonstrating an act of love. may the lord who is righteous judge bless such an individual with the knowledge of those persecuted for loves sake. in fact i find that fear of persecution of its varying forms is what keeps us from demonstrating acts of love more often than not. count yourself blessed my friend for not being able to see the darkness of the world. (i do mean this lovingly)

    a good example that comes to mind is dorthy day

    i guess i want to address your question first and then go on to what you wrote….

    the question itself of “was Jesus innocent” really comes down to what you define as innocence….rather the standard you define it by….i can present to you an argument that would suggest this is not the right question to ask….i do this on the assumption you are asking a question as a bible-believing follower of christ….if not, well then there’s other things to address first….i would like to argue that, God, being the creator of all things, is the definer of innocence…. hence Him being judge….and well if Jesus is God, than he is the standard….that’s simple enough logic, but begs the question of the three-in-one god and what that means….so rather than going into that argument and depending solely on logic…i would rather point you to the something of an answer the Lord provided for us in scripture…more than just paul saying so many times over

    take note, as you may remember from sunday school, the baptism of jesus….i pretense this with the understanding that throughout scripture, Yahweh has had a tendency to work through cultural understanding to make a point…..covenant with Abraham is case in point coming to mind….on the idea of innocence too, we for the most part as Christians would define that without “sin” or rather perfectly in line with God’s will….back to the baptism….the story goes as such he is baptized, and father God says “This is my son, in whom i am well pleased.”….i want to highlight the significance of this. This was not highlighted until recently in a sermon for me. It was customary for the father of any given Jewish man as he came of age go into the marketplace and announce something along those lines among the crowds. From that point onward, everything the son did was “in the name of the father” or rather carried the will of the family, etc. point–this is an acknowledgement by Father God to His Son that he has the authority to move and act in his name–rather it is the point where Jesus becomes the standard, for many things, not just innocence, if not already so….hence why we call the covenant under him “new” among other reasons….

    i know you’re probably looking for a detailed recollection of his life to every word, thought, deed, and action, but that’s a bit of a high expectation of anyone alive today (outside the holy spirit) to know of any person outside themselves….but as it was the Judge that declares it so, who am I to argue?

    in this sense it becomes a bit more of what innocence means….Jesus certainly offended people….and many would say that any offense is injust and not right, and thus not innocent….but then i am defining innocence on my own twisted terms, because of course i have the authority to say that, rather than what the Father God has presented to me….

    i did want to touch on fully human fully God….my understanding: the fully human part being that he still had the capability of sinning or free will as it were, but because of His union with the Father, did not because He was free not to…hence why it is possible by our union with God to not sin/not be ruled by sin as Christians…not to say we never do

    by my understanding of the “act of love” you’ve described….it is true jesus challenged authority…no question….but he challenged more than that….rather i should say his teachings challenged authority….his actions challenged everything, authority included….i mean that was the whole “meet with sinners” argument….not to mention healing on the sabbath…not to mention touching a leper…rabbi or not….not to mention also all the talk about “son of man” coming to save people and not condemn….that one was a big shocker because many wanted blood and would not be satisfied with anything less….He addressed that to….that’s where the kingdom and all the info about it comes in….which was more of a revolution than people really were expecting or realized at the time…and really i could go on….the point was he operated out of a completely different perspective than what was considered, not just by the religious elite, but all people that would be…challenging….the idea of unconditional love has yet to be mastered in any sense of what he presented

    now as far as pilate is concerned….crucifixion was a form of roman torture…and a lot of people died from it too…it was reserved for terrorists of the olden days as it were….the whole pretense of that situation was the jewish people taking jesus to pilate in order that pilate would do the thing they couldn’t by their laws–kill him….it was a political move as much as any by the pharisees to get rid of him….finally…because they had failed in getting him to “break” the Law…and even trying to get him to go against Rome, which wasn’t just by the jewish elite but others as well….in every case he stayed true to what he taught and said….pilate wasn’t a complete idiot….he knew what was going on, at least politically (he became more known as a christian later)….but with a large mass of people threatening riot, he turned Jesus over to be crucified…what i find interesting is that to spite the jewish people he ordered the sign “king of jews”, which was a fulfillment of one of the messianic prophecies….pilate giving in to political pressure in no way would suggest anything on the level of innocence….lest you care to use that argument with modern day leaders…..

    so to address the last two questions:
    1) yes, undeniably in my mind
    2) he certainly started a revolution, but the kind you are mentioning comes from the perspective of what the jewish people were expecting, not what he actually did…..his revolution was not against rome as it were, but against the Enemy’s kingdom (and from what scripture would tell us, the Enemy was the world’s ruler, not rome or any given man)….and i mean rome did eventually herald Christianity….so whether or not the punishment is justifiable seems really how you look at it

    i will apologize if that is wordy or causes offense, but that was my immediate thoughts….they are meant lovingly and academically….i may have more after thinking about it….

    • I applaud and thank you for the time and thought you have put into your comment. You bring up many points that I have thought on over the course of the last few years. The ambiguity in defining some of those “undefinable” terms like innocence, kingdom, political, or rebellion was intentional to inspire thought; not to argue in favor of one meaning or another.

      I wish only to clarify my statement about persecution for acts of love through example (I could not begin to define it). I have never witnessed someone be persecuted for feeding a hungry person, giving clothing to the naked, or caring for the widow and orphan – on an individual level. There is another aspect to what the people standing against injustice have done. Not only are they extending grace, but they are also threatening the tradition of man. I believe THAT is what they are being killed for; not the fact that they are standing up for someone or something else. They are being killed because they are pointing out how others are wrong.

      I think we can agree that the same thing happened to Jesus. He did not face opposition because he healed a man’s hand, but that he did it on the Sabbath… breaking tradition. When Jesus ran into opposition it was because he was threatening the traditions of man, not because he was extending grace. It is difficult to break the two apart because he did it so many times in coordination with each other, but I believe the difference can be made clear.

  4. still i find that i can really think if anyone was actually a prophet for Christ, they’ve faced some form of persecution…..in some ways i was thinking joan of arch….

    i guess again that was the reference to Dorthy Day….saw a documentary on her once that portrayed her rise as the mother of soup kitchens….as it was protrayed she was “persecuted” in a sense….not to the point of death, but to a large point of almost excommunication….and thanks to quick wit that didn’t happen….her “care” for others was socialistic in nature for some….but again there’s a politics reference so i’m not sure if that fits what you’re asking….

    i guess i just don’t follow what you’re thinking….even a merciful king is denounced as weak….i can think of a number of individuals i know where they will do good and its denounced false because of unbelief and unacceptance….not because of faith specifically in some cases….in any sense where there is a caste system or race system and lines are crossed there’s room for persecution….i guess to me it seems persecution exists only because a set system’s lines are crossed…rather i should say that it would seem you can’t demonstrate radical grace without crossing some line at some point in the world in which we find ourselves….which gives the opportunity for persecution….

    i guess i’m trying to figure out what your actual question is then….because if you’re asking if jesus was persecuted because he was a rebel then the answer is yes….if you’re asking if he was trying to topple the roman government the answer is no…..that much paul made clear….if you’re asking if this was his way of toppling the enemies government, the answer is yes….if you’re asking if the punishment is appropriate for the crime in the sense of being an enemy of state then, then i’d have to say no….but that’s more of my logic off the other statements than Godly wisdom of any kind….again you’ve now lost me in context of what you were asking….

    • You aren’t lost!

      The contemplation of ALL of those questions is what I meant for in leaving the questions ambiguous. All of them are important. To ask one without acknowledging the rest is to leave the question unanswered.

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