Summary: The death of Jesus is a story of conspiracy, deception and drama that ends by shedding forth saving grace "once, for all".
“We all make something. Some make excuses. Some make differences.”--Unknown
“Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.--Dan Stanford”
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”--T. S. Elliot
“Results yields respect.”--Clark Kellogg
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others; it is the only means.”--Albert Einstein
“You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.”--Henry Ford
“The road to success runs uphill.”--Willie Davis
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”--George Carlin
“The last breath of Messiah changed all of time for all time.” Samuel C. Fulkerson
Let me tell you a story of conspiracy:
The last time Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem He was greeted as a triumphant hero by a large group of people who laid their cloaks in His path while waving palms and singing out praises. This week that started so great ended painfully on a hill called Golgotha (transliterated from the Hebrew word, Go-a-goal-lot, meaning skull).
Crucifixion was a Roman capital punishment reserved for those who committed the crime of treason. Had Jesus’ conviction been for any other crime other than treason against the rule of Caesar, He might have still been executed, however not by crucifixion. Those folks convicted of capital offenses considered less serious than treason would die a quicker and less public death by hanging or beheading. These facts clearly indicate that Jesus was officially charged with “treason”, a capital offense.
Crucifixions were purposefully very public, usually targeted for well-traveled places. This would ensure that the intense suffering and horribleness of the event would stand as a strong deterrent for other potentially treason-ness acts.
So how do we go from “O’ Joy” to “O’ boy”:
These events were taking place during preparation for Passover. Therefore Jerusalem would have been packed with Jewish pilgrims from Judea and all across the Mediterranean world to celebrate Passover and to make sacrifices at the Temple.
Jerusalem has been conquered 11 times in history (The Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, the Mamelukes, the Turks and the British.) Jerusalem had been under Roman occupation for many decades, and the Greeks before that by the time Jesus walk it’s streets for the last time. The Jewish fervor would have been running high during the Passover season as can been seen by the fact that Pilate abandoned his government's center in Caesarea, about 75 miles northwestward, and came to Jerusalem along with a couple of thousand soldiers. Pontius Pilate was the Roman Prefect and Governor of Judaea from 26 to 36 AD.
Pilate was appointed by Sejanus. Sejanus ruled under Tiberius Caesar (42 BC to 37 AD) from 16-31 AD; his power and prestige peaking in 29 AD and falling out of favor with Tiberius thereafter ending in his arrest in 31 AD. Jesus was crucified in 30 AD.
The first-century Jewish historian Philo (20 BC-50 AD) claims that Sejanus was anti-semitic and planned to destroy the Jewish race completely. (Philo, In Flaccum i,1; and Legatio 24,159-161). Eusebius (263 – 339 AD Roman Historian) almost quotes Philo, making the same inference about Sejanus. (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History ii, V).
Pilate who was appointed by Sejanus implemented his anti-semitic policies with fervor. Flavius Josephus (37 – 100 AD Jewish Historian) details Pilate's hatred and baiting of the Jewish people.
Pilate was without doubt a very violent ruler. He had little reserve about sentencing people to death especially Jews, whether by sword or crucifixion. Many hundreds of Jews had already died by his command when Jesus stood before him. Pilate was known to be suspicious of crowds and was eventually dismissed by the governor of Syria (Lucius Vitellius), for being too violent, which speaks volumes in-and-of-itself. The event that ended in Pilate’s retirement was recorded by Josephus and transpired in 36 AD (There had been a lull in persecution from 32 AD (When Tiberius had made a decree throughout the Empire not to mistreat the Jews.) until 35 AD (This is when Stephen was martyred in Acts 7). One year later: “Pilate blocked their projected route up the mountain with a detachment of cavalry and heavily armed infantry, who in an encounter with the first comers in the village slew some in a pitched battle and put the others to flight. Many prisoners were taken, of whom Pilate put to death the principal leaders and those who were most influential among the fugitives.” (Jewish Antiquities 18.85-89).
Luke 13:1-3 “1- There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2- And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3- I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”