All the relevant conditions here and now are identical to the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, and I firmly believe that we would execute Jesus today, just as his contemporaries did..
Fascinating reading, John 19: verses 1 to 24.
Everything which is said, regardless of the intended nuance or connotation of the speaker, is absolutely true. Who says each thing is also meaningful; ironies and revelations abound when one “reads” the intentions of the speakers. It’s just as if God wrote out a script for this incident in history and his actors played it out. Most of those actors were unaware of the playwright’s scripting, acting out their own parts as they wanted. But there was not so much as an ad-lib in that play, and God had foreseen and packed every word so full of significance that we can find new insights each time we read it.
It’s very clear in the text that all principle parties were doing just as they intended, and that they were making their intentions open and transparent for the world to see.
Pilate was carrying out the execution of a man who he repeatedly declared innocent because it was politically expedient.
The chief priests knew what they were doing. They were killing their God.
We like to take comfort in the trope that in all old timey times, all old timey people were ignorantly more religious than we are now, because they were so superstitious and primitive. Please take another look at this religious book written by hopelessly religious people in that religion-benighted time.
Pilate is a relativist, a believer in relative truth claims. “What is truth?” He is declaring that there is no Truth.
The Sanhedrin were utter secularists. The first person we see Jesus engage in philosophical discussion is a priest from the Sanhedrin. (John 3) This man, Nicodemus, needs Jesus to explain the existence of the supernatural as though he is a spiritual preschooler. This priest does not even recognize that there is a spiritual dimension to his religion.
And he was the one with an open mind! As you read through the gospel of John, written by an eyewitness who was a member of the inner circle of the inner circle of the apostles, the actions of the Pharisees can be quite puzzling. Happily John, as a witness and with the insight of the Holy Spirit, reveals to us the Pharisee’s reasoning. The Son of God came to his people as predicted and those to whom he came did not recognize that He had to be a spiritual figure.
They did not care about his transcendent purpose. They wanted only a political solution.
They did not even consider that he ought to be honored as God; they did not give Him his place.
Jesus earlier tells the parable of the vineyard workers who kill all the owners’ representatives, then kill his son, reasoning that they, the workers, will inherit the vineyard if the son is out of the way. It’s a brilliant story because, not only does it reveal how nonsensical the Pharisee’s reasoning is, but it actually reveals what they think of their God. A machine to be worked; the heir dies, we inherit the goods. They recognized no sentient Person who might react with intention.
The thought process of the vineyard workers make no more sense than the chief priests’ demands for execution of their long-expected Messiah, unless the demands are coming from people who are totally secular. They recognized no spiritual reality; they recognized no claims of the God to whom they belong.
The whole point of the history of the Jews told in the Bible is that God had lovingly created, preserved and protected his chosen people, yet they had continually turned away from Him to adopt foreign gods, follow other cultures, submit themselves to lesser idols; outwardly observe the nuts and bolts of religion but inwardly submit only to their self-oriented desires. Anything but to be accountable to this Holy God.
Be a priest, but understand your faith as only a hierarchical secular society with secular purposes, which are strictly social and political. Spiritual reality is not even on the radar. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were completely blind to the spiritual dimension of their own world, and even their own faith.
And so when this upstart religious leader began collecting listeners, then followers, the leaders questioned his authority. When he made truth claims which they did not grasp, they were dismissive. When he spoke to them as Authority they were offended. When he, as God, demanded an accounting of them for their stewardship of the faith, and for their faulty leadership of the people, they marked him for extinction. Away with him. When He threatened their secular power, they actively plotted to have him killed.
Here is your king!
Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!
“We have no king but Caesar.” This is a shocking admission by members of the Judaic people. God was their King. They were intentionally rejecting their God and demanding his crucifixion.
It was not a fundamentalist faction who killed Jesus. It was not a religious people who executed him. It was secularist non-believers who had Jesus killed.
We would do the same now. We live in a secular world, where even many Christian denominations admit of no spiritual element. Yet multiplied thousands follow and dutifully uphold these churches as secular, social do-good organizations. Are we more enlightened than they were?
If Jesus were to come now, we would crucify him. What is there about our time which would change the outcome?