(If you’re just joining us, you’ll need to start with Part One for the series to make sense.)
Closing in on the end of our series, yesterday we reviewed the historical reasons that led to Jesus’ death. Basically, his telling of Israel’s story (and his outline of the next chapter he was writing) clashed with almost everyone else’s. He proclaimed a rival kingdom to that of Rome, leading to (unfounded) fears that he’d lead a rebellion. He proclaimed a non-violent kingdom, disappointing many of his followers who wanted a military uprising. He forgave sins, opening himself to the charge of blasphemy (doing something only God could do), and bypassing the corrupt Temple leadership in the process – not helping matters by his judgmental act of cleansing the Temple. He welcomed the repentant sinners of Israel into the kingdom, yet challenged those who sought status with God on the basis of law-keeping – which made the Pharisees cranky, like the resentful elder brother outside the party for the returned prodigal. And, of course, there was the danger that his return-from-exile, I’m-the-Messiah, coming-rule-of-God message would be heard by the people as a call to rebellion: and Rome would intervene, meaning the end of the cosy power-sharing arrangement the Jewish leadership had managed to set up for themselves. The historical answer is that Jesus trod on everyone’s toes: that’s why he ended up getting killed.
But what’s the theological answer?