Although the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ are discussed in several places in this book…this is probably the best location to drill down more deeply into the nature of the rejection of Jesus that led to the cross on Calvary Hill.
In a book attempting to make a popular defense of the Bible and Christianity…to illuminate the real truth about God…this topic must be addressed early, clearly, and with four-square honesty…despite the offense it will cause for a large number of people (1 Cor. 1:18, 2:14; Gal. 2:20, 3:22).
The first-century Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers in Jerusalem who were the chief instigators of the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus Christ…were not bank robbers, embezzlers, slave traders, drug dealers, murderers, or common thieves.
Yet the stubborn character trait of self-sovereignty openly led to their eventual exposure…at the critically decisive moment in their lives…to be the greatest criminals of all time…by conspiring to murder the Son of God Jesus Christ through Roman crucifixion…for the simplest and most commonplace of reasons…that they were living in the realm of thinking and doing things “our own way.”
Some people will react immediately here and say: “This cannot be right…how can going our own way be criminal?”
Did not God create within us the capacity for independent moral reasoning and free-will choice? Does not the definition of love require the freedom to choose to accept or to reject love from another person…including God?
Doesn’t the American slogan of “Go west young man”…to carve-out a place in the wilderness for a ranch or a farm…doesn’t this commendable and admirable worldview validate the worldly conventional thinking of going our own way…in pursuing all of the things that conventional normalcy ranks at the top of purpose, meaning, and achievement in life?
But the worldview philosophy of humanism unequivocally says that placing faith in the God of the Bible…is a sign of character weakness in leaning upon God as a crutch to get through life…instead of pushing through our life challenges using self-autonomous individualism.
The problem here from a biblical standpoint is that the entire scenario surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…is that it is a divine set-up…designed to expose the dark side of autonomous individualism at the extreme negative end of the spectrum of belief and unbelief…demonstrating in action the final outcome of a journey of self (Jn. 8:19).
The religious elites in Jerusalem during the time of the ministry of Jesus…had no intention of entering into a journey of faith like Abraham traveling from Haran to Canaan (Gen. 12:1)…or like Joseph patiently waiting in Pharaoh’s prison for God to work out the details of Joseph’s two earlier dreams as a teenager back in Canaan (Gen. 37:5-11)…or like Moses spending 40 years as a shepherd of sheep in preparation for leading the Israelites out of Egypt to their Promised Land…or like the soon-to-be converted Pharisee Saul/Paul to be sent out as a Christian missionary evangelist to the Greco-Roman world…and God knew this about these religious leaders in Jerusalem.
When some of the Jews came to the Pharisees to report what they had witnessed in Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead…after four days lying dead in a stone covered, cave tomb…we would think this would change absolutely everyone’s thinking regarding the divine nature of Jesus of Nazareth (Jn. 11:1-44).
How many people do we know about…past or present…that can bring someone back to life…someone who has been dead for four days?
Yet this news about Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life…does not seem to phase in the slightest…to sway in a positive direction the opinion that these Pharisees have of Jesus of Nazareth.
The first concern recorded by these religious leaders is in regard to their positions and political power in their nation of Israel…of the impending and growing threat of the obvious popularity of Jesus Christ…a person who can raise a well-known person Lazarus from the dead in a small town on the very outskirts of Jerusalem…placing in peril their worldview philosophy of going “our own way”…in direct contrast to the Jewish heritage of journeys of faith (Heb. 11) patterned after the great men and women of the Hebrew Bible…from Noah through Malachi.
“But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.” (Jn. 11:46-48).
The God of the Bible is the only person in all of existence who would and could expose this extremely subtle character malfunction of going our own way…in self-autonomous individualism…through the brilliantly conceived and orchestrated events and circumstances of the life-script of Jesus Christ…the Son of God incarnate in a human body…landing Jesus on the cross at Calvary as the ultimate expression of unselfish love…prophesied centuries before in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.
The flawed character trait of going our own way…as demonstrated in the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees, and lawyers rejecting and murdering Jesus the Son of God through Roman crucifixion…easily the greatest crime in all of history…is exactly the same offense committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden…and the same offense committed by yours truly…the author of this book…in my own way…before I met God…was spiritually born-again…and entered into a journey of faith following Jesus Christ.
“Ye shall not surely die. For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3:4-5).
Adam and Eve made the morally disastrous decision to go their own way apart from God…a perfect God having timeless foresight…the worst decision anyone can ever make…as is openly demonstrated by the cross on Calvary Hill.
The divine exposure of the extreme end-point outcome of going our own way…resulting in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…indicting all of the world in the process…would never originate out of the humanistic philosophy contained within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and would therefore not be a product of human literary imaginative invention.
As has been said before in this book…the positive aspects of the American Dream only work for our eternal benefit when they are pursued within a God-composed journey of faith life-script…producing the beneficial and priceless outcome of personally knowing God…from the least to the greatest…walking in an adventure of faith. (Jer. 31:31-34).