Jesus Christ’s death by crucifixion was reserved for the worst of criminals.
In Jesus’ case, it seemed just about everyone contributed. The Jewish religious leaders, the Gentile Roman government and a mob of people all demanded his death.
It all started in a small village, not far from Jerusalem, in Israel. At 30 years of age, Jesus began teaching people about life and God.
Crowds were drawn to him. Everything about Jesus was markedly different from the ruling religious leaders. He welcomed not only the wealthy and powerful, but also the prostitutes, poor, diseased and marginalized.
Jesus called people to believe in him, saying things like, “I am the light of the world. He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Why did people listen to Jesus?
Because of what they saw.
“Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” The blind could see, lame walk, lepers free from leprosy.
He fed a destitute crowd of 4,000 people starting with a handful of fish and loaves of bread. He did it again with 5,000 people.
During a raging storm at sea, Jesus stood and commanded the wind and rain to stop, bringing sudden calm. The men in the boat asked, “Who is this, that even the wind and seas obey him?”
Several times he brought dead people back to life. It’s no wonder crowds followed Jesus and word of him spread.
So why was Jesus Crucified?
As Jesus taught the crowds, he also was critical of the ruling religious authorities. They flaunted their position, insisting on obedience to their demanding rituals, laws and traditions.
Jesus said of them, “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders…”
And in direct challenge to them he said, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
For example, one of their religious law regarded no work on the Sabbath. No cooking, no walking a certain distance, no carrying any objects, etc. It was more restrictive than restful.
On a Sabbath day Jesus healed a man who had been disabled for 38 years. Jesus told the man to pick up and his mat and walk. The man stood up and for the first time in 38 years, he could walk. The Pharisees saw him and said, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”
Jesus was constantly healing people. He did not stop on the Sabbath.
When the Pharisees confronted Jesus for working (healing people) on the Sabbath, Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”
We’re told, “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”