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1.26 Synoptics -- Who is Responsible for Jesus' Death?

Mat 20:18-19Mk 9:30-31Mk 10:33-34Lk 18:31-33. In these passages, Jesus describes who will put him to death. Matthew and Mark say that the chief priests and teachers of the law will condemn him and turn him over the to Gentiles, who will mock him, beat him and crucify him. Luke mentions only the Gentiles.


This is a contentious subject that has long served as an excuse for racial/religious hatred against the Jews. While it can be truly said that the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus as the Messiah and plotted to kill him, they could not actually do so without the cooperation of the Roman authorities.


One has to pity Pilate, sort of. His background and training did not prepare him to deal with the intricacies of Jewish messianic expectations. Like Herod at the beginning of Jesus' life, so Pilate at the end comes off a clueless buffoon. He, the judge, was himself being judged in his act of condemnation. And the record shows he was a coward, who condemned a man whom he did not believe to be guilty. Even so, Jesus partially absolved him, according to John:

        "the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin" (Jn 19:11).

        The only racial point here is that both Jews and Gentiles were complicit in his death. It makes as much sense to blame modern Jews as it would to blame Italians.

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