The Seventh Suspect
Tonight, with eager anticipation, I viewed a documentary entitled; “Who Framed Jesus”. The program aired on the Discovery Channel from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm CST and repeated from 10:00pm to 12:00am CST. Throughout the program six possible suspects were named and various motives revealed as to who were the person or persons guilty of conspiring to and carrying out the crucifixion of Jesus.
Judas Iscariot was of course the first culprit depicted in the scenario. Greed was one possible motive given for his betrayal of Christ as well as the idea that Judas was impatient and angry with Jesus because Jesus had promised them another kingdom and had not fulfilled that promise. This is an interesting interpretation to say the least. Was greed the motive of Judas, and if so, why such remorse and regret? Judas threw the money away and then took his own life. Was something more mysterious afoot?
The high priest Caiaphas was also named as suspect for wanting Jesus death. Caiaphas feared the growing popularity of Jesus and saw him as a threat to the priests, the Sanhedrin and the law. The Sanhedrin was the supreme council and tribunal of the Jews, consisting of 71 members having religious, civil and criminal jurisdiction. Along with the Sanhedrin, certainly the high priest Caiaphas knew that if they allowed Jesus to continue his message of peace, freedom and forgiveness, their ruling authority would be drastically diminished, if not completely destroyed. Well enough reason to have Jesus killed.
Of course there was the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate. Pilate kept hearing rumors this troublemaking miscreant named Jesus who taught that there was only one authority; that being the one almighty God. This outraged Pilate because the god of the Romans was thought to be the ruling Roman Emperor of the day. Jesus was calling for the worship of his God and nothing or no one else. This would without question have been considered blasphemy to any Roman magistrate. Jesus would have to be eliminated or an uprising against Roman rule was imminent. Quite a good motive for the cauterizing of a festering sore.
The Pharisees were a sect among the ancient Jews, noted for their strict observance of rites and ceremonies of the written law and for their insistence on the validity of the traditions and the elders. The Pharisees not only witnessed Jesus break the law time and time again, they also knew he was encouraging his followers to do the same. Jesus called the Pharisees sons of the devil and told them that sinners and tax collectors would enter God’s kingdom before them. Jesus contradicted the Pharisees continually. He embarrassed them and humiliated them. He mocked their authority and their teaching as well as the authority of the Sanhedrin. What better reason for having Jesus put to death?
The next suspect in this mounting drama is quite possibly the most heinous. Herod Antipas was the son and heir of Herod the Great and ruled at the time of Jesus only with the permission of Rome. Herod Antipas had a voracious appetite for taking his carnal pleasures to, shall we say lower levels, and would not tolerate Jesus’ message of fidelity and having only one wife. Jesus’ message of morality and his teaching that God is the only authority to be acknowledged would have infuriated Herod Antipas. After having Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist beheaded, how could he let Jesus live? The most belittling slap in the face of Antipas was the fact that Jesus called himself the King of the Jews and the Son of God. This meant that Herod Antipas was a fraud and a fake and Antipas would in no way tolerate this outrageous declaration by a common carpenter. Herod Antipas had multiple, valid motives for having Jesus put to death, at least in his own eyes.
The last suspect to be scrutinized was none other than Jesus Himself. It was suggested in the documentary that Jesus had planned his own death, and according to the recently discovered gospel of Judas, Jesus recruited Judas to betray him, telling Judas that he would be hated forever on earth but his reward in Heaven would be great. This, of course, is a direct contradiction to what is written in the four Gospels and tends to render Jesus to mere mortality. This would seem to expose Jesus as a lunatic instead of the Son of the living God. In either case Jesus had to have absolutely believed he was the King of the Jews, the Savior of the world, the Messiah and One with the Living God. Why, otherwise, would Jesus have undergone such mockery, agonizing scourging and horrifying death? Did Jesus plan and cause his own death, or was there another in this line of possible suspects? Just who did actually have Jesus put to death? Six suspects have been named. Could there be a seventh?
Before the cross Jesus tells his followers; “I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” John 10:17, 18 nasb
This could imply that Jesus planned his own death, but let us not be too hasty to assume an inconclusive opinion.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” John 5: 19 nasb
“My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” John 7: 16 nasb
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” John 8: 28, 29 nasb
“I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” John 8: 42 nasb
Repeatedly Jesus states that he is not in control of anything he does, but that it is God his Father that is doing all things in and through him. Could it be that God was also doing all things to him as well? Let us return to the much assumed scene of the crime.
It is the Passover and what is known as the “Last Supper”. Let us observe the events of that evening and in what sequence they took place.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.” The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. There was reclining on Jesus’ breast one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore gestured to him, and said to him, “Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking.” He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ breast, said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus therefore answered, “That is the one for whom I dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. And after the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Jesus therefore said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him. John 13: 21-28 nasb
The order in which these events took place very well could be the key that unlocks the mystery of just who actually did betray Jesus and had him put to death. Let us observe the order of events carefully.
1. Jesus tells his disciples that one of them will betray him.
2. Peter asked the disciple leaning on Jesus breast which one it is.
3. That disciple asked Jesus which one it will be.
4. Jesus reveals that it is the one who he gives the morsel to.
5. Jesus dips the morsel and gives it to Judas.
6. After Judas eats the morsel Satan enters into Judas.
7. Jesus then says to Judas, “What you do, do quickly.”
But who was Jesus actually talking to? Before Jesus gave this order, Satan had entered into Judas. Was Judas still aware of himself? Was Judas even conscious or was he in a state of hypnosis, so to speak? Had Satan anesthetized Judas and completely taken him over? Just who was Jesus commanding to do what he had to do and do it quickly?
If Judas Iscariot was the actual betrayer of Jesus and the soul villain in this epic event then why did Jesus not give him the command before Satan entered into Judas? If Judas was acting on his own, then why was there any need for Satan to be involved at all? If Jesus had planned his own death and made a previous deal with Judas then would there be any reason for Satan to enter into him?
The answer to these and many other questions cannot and will not come from any worldly investigations, nor will it come from any analysis or interpretation of man. There was no plan to kill Jesus. There was, however, a purpose for his death.
Now no one of those reclining at the table knew for what PURPOSE He had said this to him. John 13: 28 nasb
There was no plan. There was no conspiracy. There was no one individual or group responsible for the death of Jesus, and certainly the Jews were not the ones that destined him for the cross. Who then could the seventh suspect be? How about the Almighty God Himself? How about the God that created all things and then formed and fashioned them for His purpose? There is, however, the painfully obvious obstacle that prohibits understanding how this could be possible. It is the mind of man.
We, just as the disciples, vainly and in futility attempt to discern and understand the purposes and works of the Almighty. In arrogance we think we can figure out the how, what, why, where and when of God. If God is truly God then how in God’s name can that ever be?
To know that God is in control of all things and that He has a purpose in and through all things cannot be reasoned. It cannot be intellectualized, theorized or theologized. To quote one who should know…”God is not of this world.” Maybe if we are to know any answers at all we must know that we are not of this world as well. But that would involve faith. Not attempting in any way to figure anything out, having no reliance in man and our incredibly limited faculties. Maybe it is as simple as just having the faith of a child that God is God. And guess what? That kind of faith is not of this world either. How could it be?