When those around him saw what was happening, they asked, “Master, should we attack with swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. (Luke 22:48-50)Wait a second. Why would Jesus tell this to his disciples - who are merely trying to protect him from arrest? Why wouldn't Jesus resist arrest? Why didn't he take off into the wilderness and evade being captured?
Certainly, this is what most people would do. Mind you, Jesus wasn't really being officially arrested by a government agency. It wasn't as if there was a warrant for his arrest and if he escaped, he would be hunted down by other local governments. The governing Romans had nothing to do with his arrest.
Rather, Jesus was basically being kidnapped by some guards sent by the High Priest of the Temple of Jerusalem. They were capturing Jesus to bring him before the Roman court and make a case for him being persecuted for being a trouble-maker.
Caiaphas was trying to do away with Jesus. He wanted Jesus out of the way because Jesus was disrupting his authority over the people. The High Priest of the Temple in Jerusalem was considered the leading spiritual teacher of the Jewish people. One might compare the position of High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple to the position of Pope to Catholics. The High Priest was considered the ultimate authority - supposedly God's representative.
But Jesus wasn't towing the line of the High Priest. He did not consider the High Priest to be God's representative. Yes, Jesus did follow and mirror the teachings of the Prophets. But Jesus stood in the Temple courtyards and criticized many of the High Priest's teachings.
This means that Jesus was usurping the authority of the High Priest. Jesus was God's representative. How do we know this? He said things like:
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)
“If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me." (John 8:42)
"For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken." (John 12:49)This is a critical point, because so many misconstrue that Jesus is the Supreme Being. If Jesus is God, then why would he say that his teachings are not his own? Why would he say that his teachings are coming from someone else other than himself? Why did Jesus say that God sent him if Jesus was God?
It's not as if Jesus was playing mind games with people. He was being straight with them. He was telling them precisely how he received his authority.
This makes Jesus God's representative. He was teaching on behalf of the Supreme Being. And this angered Caiaphas because Caiaphas was representing himself as God's representative.
So Jesus was jeopardizing Caiaphas' authority. This was evident from the fact that many people were listening to Jesus' teachings. And many were following Jesus, and becoming his disciples.
So it wasn't that Jesus arranged for his crucifixion. Nor did God arrange to have Jesus crucified.
Neither of these speculative theories put out by today's sectarian teachers are true. Some of these teachers will contend that Jesus' crucifixion was set up by God or set up by Jesus in order to pay for the sins of humanity.
As if God has to comply with some rule that says God's son has to be sacrificed in order to pay for the sins of humanity?
That is a bunch of crap. We each pay for our own sins in the form of consequences (that's what "going to hell" is). And if God wants to forgive us for our self-centered behavior of the past, then He can do that whenever He wants to. He doesn't need to comply with some kind of rule about cleansing sins through someone else's sacrifice. If He did, why would Jesus teach us to ask God to forgive our sins within the "Lord's Prayer":
"Please forgive our offenses, as we forgive those who offend us." (Matt. 6:12 DT)Asking God to forgive our sins (offenses - from the Greek word opheilēma) means, by default, that God can forgive our sins. He can forgive our offenses. He has the power to cleanse us and save us. He doesn't need to undergo any ritual or requirement in order to do so. He doesn't need to have His representative murdered in order to forgive sins. This is confirmed over and over throughout the Bible.
This sectarian teaching that God had to sacrifice Jesus to cleanse our sins has been put forth to replace the lack of understanding about Jesus' real relationship with God and the reality of our situation in the physical world. They simply don't know the reality - so they have made up a bunch of stuff - and this made-up stuff has been passed down from one "High Priest" to another through the various sectarian institutions that claim to be followers of Jesus.
Jesus knew this was going to happen. He knew that people were going to misconstrue his position and claim to be his followers while they reject his teachings and ignore the Supreme Being. This is why he stated very clearly:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matt. 7:21-23)Yet if one listens to the teachings of the "High Priests" of today's sectarian institutions that claim to follow Jesus, we find them parroting the same empty teachings about how all we have to do is recognize that Jesus died for our sins and we are saved.
When did Jesus teach that? Did he ever say that? Did he ever say, "Just recognize that I died for your sins and you are saved." ?
No - he never said that. Rather, he said that loving God and doing the will of the Supreme Being provided the pathway for becoming saved. As stated above:
"... only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."Why is doing the will of the Supreme Being so important? Is it that we have to become God's slaves? We have to comply or be lost?
No. Jesus is speaking of pleasing the Supreme Being out of volition.
Now why would someone want to do what pleases the Supreme Being? Love. This is why Jesus' primary teaching was:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)Love requires the freedom to love or not, right? Can anyone be forced to love? No.
This is precisely why Jesus was allowed to be crucified. (Those who don't understand the reality of our situation often ask, "why did God let Jesus be crucified?")
It wasn't that God wanted Jesus to be crucified. But in order to allow everyone the freedom to love Him, the Supreme Being must give us all the ability to reject Him.
How could one love Him voluntarily otherwise?
Just consider what would happen if a man refused to allow a woman to reject him when he asked the woman on a date. Could that woman ever love such a man? No way. She would consider such a man to be a predator. She could never love such a person.
This is because love is always voluntarily. It can never be forced. It always must come from a position of freedom. And in order to have the position of freedom, one must be able to just as easily reject the person as well as love the person.
This is the situation we are in, here in this physical world. We have in the past rejected the Supreme Being, so He let us go. He gave us a physical dimension where we could get away from Him - all the while having the freedom to love Him or not.
This is why we don't see the Supreme Being with our physical eyes here in this world. Because by presenting Himself in front of us all the time, He would be invading our freedom to reject Him. He would be stepping on our ability to get away from Him.
This is also why we can deny His existence if we want to. This is complete freedom - to love Him or even deny He even exists.
But some of us might pretend to accept His existence - but really we are simply doing that in order to gain prestige or the acceptance of others. Those who claim to believe in God but simply want to take advantage of the opportunities presented by sectarian institutions - achieving the respect of others, or gaining power or authority over others - are simply faking it. They don't really accept God's existence, because they still consider themselves as the most important person. They still want to be in God's position - being the center of attention.
In such a situation, one may use one's freedom to continue to reject the Supreme Being.
This is the situation of the High Priest Caiaphas. He was using his freedom to reject God by having Jesus arrested and bringing him to the Romans. There he would claim that Jesus was a troublemaker and should be crucified.
All because Caiaphas chose to reject the Supreme Being. He may have held the highest office in the Jewish institution at that time - comparable to the Pope - but Caiaphas still rejected the Supremacy of God. He didn't want to do the will of God. He wanted to do his own will. And his own will was to do what kept him in power.
The Supreme Being in His mercy allows these sorts of offenses against Him and His representatives. He allows these because He wants us to choose to love Him out of freedom. He doesn't want to force anyone. For this reason, He will also allow people to use institutions named after Him or His representatives. He isn't pleased with such offenses, but He allows them.
The same goes for those who simply see God as a means to get what they want. They see God as their servant - asking God to give them whatever materialistic things they want. He may not be pleased with such a relationship, nor give us everything we ask for, but He will allow us to see Him in this way if we choose to. He tolerates us, because of His unconditional love for us.
Or we have the freedom to ignore Him completely. We have the freedom to reject His existence and reject His representatives. We even have the freedom to persecute His representative. If we didn't have this extent of freedom, then we would not have the complete freedom to love Him.
This is why Pilate, who claimed to "wash his hands" of the situation, had the freedom to sentence Jesus to death. It wasn't like God forced him either way. He had the choice. But Pilate was afraid of losing control over the people and causing a riot if he didn't have Jesus crucified. Pilate didn't care about the Supreme Being and His representative. He only cared about himself. He rejected the existence of the Supreme Being - and rejected the authority of God's representative, Jesus. Even though he could tell that Jesus was not guilty of doing anything wrong - he used his freedom to sentence Jesus' body to death.
Now if God wanted to, surely He could have prevented all this from happening. He could have prevented Jesus' arrest. Jesus could have run off into the wilderness and evaded capture.
But this wasn't Jesus' choice. Jesus, in his love for the Supreme Being, didn't want to run off. He wanted to stand up for his teachings. Teaching was his service to God - and he wasn't about to abandon that in order to save his own skin.
So Jesus stood up to the High Priest. He would not allow Caiaphas to whitewash those teachings that were coming from the Supreme Being. Jesus allowed himself to be arrested.
This is why he didn't want his disciples to fight off the guards of the high priest. Jesus was standing up for his teachings.
What would have running away shown his students about his teachings anyway? Jesus was ready to die on behalf of his teachings, in order to show just how important those teachings are.
Jesus loves the Supreme Being. And his love and devotion for the Supreme Being was on display through this entire ordeal. Jesus was making a stand for God, because He loved God.
Jesus allowed his body to be murdered to underscore the importance of his teachings, the greatest of which is to love and serve the Supreme Being - and glorify the Supreme Being. If his sacrifice means that we truly take that teaching into our hearts and live for that teaching, then yes, his sacrifice can surely save us.
Biblical verses in this commentary are from the New International Version or The Gospels of Jesus.