Summary: Christ’s death on the cross was a crime of passion. The crime was ours... the passion was God’s.
OPEN: (began with music theme of CSI – “Who Are You”)
The year was 1910.
The place - Chicago, Illinois.
The time - The early hours of the morning.
Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Hiller were lying in bed when Mrs. Hiller sensed something was wrong. She awoke to see that the gas light outside their bedroom door was out. She woke her husband and asked him to go investigate.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hiller never got the chance to fix the night light. While he was out in the hall, he encountered a burglar and struggled with him at the top of the stairs. Several shots rang out, and Mr. Hiller ended up being shot twice… and died within moments.
The burglar fled into the night. But, later the early hours of the morning, local police questioned a parolee named Thomas Jennings. Jennings was injured, had a loaded gun, and was on parole for a previous burglary.
That alone would have made him a suspect in 1910… but something else confirmed the fact that he had been in the Hiller home that night and was indeed the killer.
In 1904, Scotland Yard brought an exhibit to the St. Louis World’s Fair. They demonstrated a new science to identify criminals long after they left the scene of the crime.
Does anybody know what science was? Fingerprinting.
American police officers were so intrigued that Scotland Yard began training many in law enforcement field on how to find and match fingerprints left at the scene of a crime with those of suspects.
Thomas Jennings had the singular honor of being the first killer to be convicted by the use of evidence from the use this new science. Unfortunately for him, a railing outside the home had just been painted the day before… and he left a clear imprint in the still drying paint.
APPLY: CSI’s theme music for its show is “Who Are You”, which is appropriate since the job of Crime Scene Investigators is to discover “Who Are You”. Who committed the crime they are investigating?
And one of the tools real CSI officers use frequently us to catch criminals is fingerprinting. The practice has become so prevalent in modern day crime fighting that fingerprinting has even found it’s way into everyday speech:
Someone will say “you’ve got your fingerprints all over that project.”
In Law Enforcement, if a someone’s fingerprints are found at the scene of the crime police will detain them as “persons of interest”. This is a polite way of saying: the police think THEY did it!
When it comes to the death of Christ on the cross there are several “Persons of Interest” who may be said to be “suspects” in the crime.
I. First, there are the Chief Priests and the Pharisees
Our text for today (for example) declares that Christ’s death was a pre-meditated action of the leaders of Israel.
Look with me to Matthew 26:3-4
“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and KILL him.”
Their decision was premeditated. They plotted to kill Jesus. But why on earth would they seek Jesus’ death?
Why? Because they were afraid of Him.
Turn with me to John 11:45-53. Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead… and we’re told:
“Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary (Lazarus’ sister), and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.
But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. ‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’
He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.
So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”
They were afraid that everyone would start believing in Him and then they would lose their influence and authority over the people.
And they also feared Him because they felt that Rome would see Jesus as a threat to Caesar, and then the Legions would destroy all of Israel…and then there would be no personal influence and authority.