Fox news host Bill O'Reilly announced on his show he would be writing a book about the death of Jesus, called "Killing Jesus." The book is due out in September and follows his other books about the killing of Lincoln and Kennedy. But what was the real reason Jesus was killed? What does the Bible say?
As it was with the books on Lincoln and Kennedy, there will surely be a not-so-hidden political agenda attached. To use the story of Jesus to promote a political agenda is offensive in and of itself.
It should be noted that the national park service refused to sell his Lincoln book because of factual errors.
Scholars and historians have studied the death of Jesus for 2000 years. It is hard to believe that O'Reilly has discovered something new, yet he said on his show:
"We've uncovered some interesting things about the execution of Jesus of Nazereth and how it all ties into Roman Power."
Bible students at most seminaries know that Jesus came to die for our sins. That was Jesus mission. He was not killed by the Roman political machine. If anything, Jesus provoked the leaders into killing him.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.
As the bible says, the religious leaders of the day pressed charges and basically manipulated Rome into executing Jesus. Remember the Bible story where Pilate washed his hands? Pilate was the only Roman official who had the power to execute Jesus and he basically refused to do so. He "washed his hands" of the matter and told the religious leadership to do as they wished. Rome basically turned a blind eye to the death of Jesus. That is the Biblical fact.
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves."
Jesus was killed because the Jews thought he was a blasphemer, that he was claiming to be God. According to their tradition and understanding, anyone who did that should be put to death. They were products of their culture. I am not criticizing Jews, as Jesus himself was a Jew, but the Jewish leadership were the ones who killed Jesus. They felt threatened by his power. Rome was also an issue. Rome basically didn't care what you did with religion. They wanted to keep the peace and for you to pay your taxes, and if you did that, they let you do what you wanted. It was the religious establishment that killed Jesus, not the government.
If Jesus had declared himself king - which he never did - that would have bothered Rome. If Jesus had led a revolution - which he never did - Rome would have come and crushed him and his followers. What Jesus did was upset the religious rulers of the day and they managed to get him killed.
Jesus death was brutal to be sure. But to only focus on his death misses the entire point of Christianity. He came to die and be raised again for the remission of sins, and that is the entire point of Christianity.
To use the basic message of Christianity to promote a political agenda brings to mind another New Testament story, the one where Jesus cleansed the temple.
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”
What was being sold were animals for sacrifice. This was basically a good service the merchants were offering. People came a long way to make their sacrifices and it was a lot easier to buy an animal at the temple than carry one a long distance. However the system had become corrupt. Animals brought were disqualified and people were told they had to buy one there.
Another problem was that the merchants were inside the temple area, and were taking up room where worshipers could gather, instead of selling their wares outside.
There was nothing wrong with them selling animals, and there was nothing wrong with them making a profit on the affair. There was something wrong with them abusing the system and taking unfair advantage of people. There was also something wrong with them crowing out worshipers.
There is nothing wrong with writing books about religious issues and history, and making money off those books. To do so to score political points and lead astray God's children is nothing short of what the temple merchants were doing.