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The Plot Against Jesus

26 Sep

Questioning JesusIn a previous blogpost, I showed how it could be logically understood through the Scriptures that Jesus could have been crucified one year prior to when the event actually occurred. At least this seems to have been the idea in the minds of Jesus’ enemies. However, it seems that God guided the events in a manner so that his original plan prevailed. Nevertheless, if Jesus was supposed to die, why would it have been wrong to die one year earlier? Why didn’t God simply permit the events begun by the scribes and Pharisees to run their course? What might have occurred had Jesus been crucified a year before the actual historical event?

Notice that Jesus claimed the Pharisees were hypocrites (Luke 12:1). That is, they openly behaved one way, but secretly acted differently. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that they were predominantly responsible for the news of what Pilate did to certain Galileans coming to the ears of Jesus. They did this in order to compel Jesus to comment on the event. Had he done so, they could have reported him to Pilate as a rebel seeking to overthrow Roman rule. Notice how Josephus describes the Pharisees:

For there was a certain sect of men that were Jews, who valued themselves highly upon the exact skill they had in the law of their fathers, and made men believe they were highly favored by God, by whom this set of women were inveigled. These are those that are called the sect of the Pharisees, who were in a capacity of greatly opposing kings. A cunning sect they were, and soon elevated to a pitch of open fighting and doing mischief.[1]

Had Jesus enemies been successful in guiding events in such a manner that Jesus was crucified at this time rather than a year earlier, Pilate may not have been able to see Jesus was innocent of the charges laid against him. After all a real uprising did occur, and Pilate was forced to put it down. Had Pilate believed Jesus was connected to it, how would Rome see him or his disciples as harmless to the Roman state? Later, both Roman centurions and Roman governors of Judea viewed Paul as innocent of charges made against him, and harmless as it pertained to threats against the Roman Empire. Had Jesus been found guilty and connected to the insurrection most recently made in Jerusalem, Rome could never have had such a favorable view of the Jesus Movement later.

Therefore, Jesus, instead of answering according to the folly of a fool (cf. Proverbs 13:16; 26:4), replied according to the doctrine of the Pharisees (Luke 13:2-3). In other words, he used the Pharisees’ own words against them to foil their plot against him. Since they believed that wicked people are judged by God, and even their sicknesses and disabilities were judgments of God against their sins or the sins of their parents (cf. Luke 5:20-26; John 9:15), Jesus answered their question as though the Galileans were judged according to the doctrine of the Pharisees! Therefore, just as he had done later in Luke 20:22-25, Jesus diffused a very dangerous situation. If the Pharisees decided to be more direct with their question, they, themselves, could have been brought to Pilate on charges of insurrection. Therefore, while Jesus didn’t excuse what Pilate had done, he did render the consequences of an insurrection charge against him moot.

Jesus also pointed to the sudden fall of the Tower of Siloam that killed 18 men (Luke 13:4), placing a, so called, act of God alongside the acts of men. According to Jesus, neither event showed the victims were so evil that their end pointed to the expected judgment one might look for from God. He concluded that, unless men gathered with him (Luke 11:23), that is, received him as their Messiah, all would perish in similar events (Luke 13:5).

To clarify his point, Jesus offered a parable (Luke 13:6-9). He told of a certain man who planted a fig tree in the corner of his vineyard, but the man became upset when it failed to yield its fruit in due season (Luke 13:6). But, when he told the vinedresser to cut the tree down, because it served no purpose (Luke 13:7), the vinedresser asked to let the fig tree grow another year, while he gave it special attention in hope that it would bear its expected fruit (Luke 13:8).

In the parable the certain man might be identified as Jesus, while the fig tree is the Jew’s nation. The three years no doubt point to the fact that this was Jesus’ third year of public ministry. Yet, the tree (the Jews) didn’t yield its fruit to its owner, the Messiah. Rather, they plotted against him, as is understood in this study. One year hence, they would be successful, but at that time it would be according to Jesus’ own plan, and the enemy (the Jewish nation) would ultimately be destroyed in his own mischief.

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[1] Josephus: Antiquities 17.2.4

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Posted by on September 26, 2017 in Gospel of Luke

 

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