The Profession of Faith
Paragraph 2. Jesus Died Crucified
Divisions among the Jewish authorities concerning Jesus
Among the religious authorities of Jerusalem, not only were the
Pharisee Nicodemus and the prominent Joseph of Arimathea both secret
disciples of Jesus, but there was also long-standing dissension about him,
so much so that St. John says of these authorities on the very eve of Christ’s
Passion, “many . . . believed in him,” though very imperfectly.
not surprising, if one recalls that on the day after Pentecost “a great many
of the priests were obedient to the faith” and “some believers . . . belonged
to the party of the Pharisees,” to the point that St. James could tell St. Paul,
“How many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have
believed; and they are all zealous for the Law.”
The religious authorities in Jerusalemwere not unanimous about
what stance to take toward Jesus.
The Pharisees threatened to excom-
municate his followers.
To those who feared that “everyone will believe
in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and
our nation,” the high priest Caiaphas replied by prophesying: “It is expe-
dient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole
nation should not perish.”
The Sanhedrin, having declared Jesus de-
serving of death as a blasphemer but having lost the right to put anyone
to death, hands him over to the Romans, accusing him of political revolt,
a charge that puts him in the same category as Barabbas who had been
accused of sedition.
The high priests also threatened Pilate politically
so that he would condemn Jesus to death.
Jews are not collectively responsible for Jesus’ death
The historical complexity of Jesus’ trial is apparent in the
Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the
Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay
responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole,
despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global re-
proaches contained in the apostles’ calls to conversion after Pente
Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in
12:42; cf. 7:50; 9:16-17; 10:19-21; 19:38-39.
6:7; 15:5; 21:20.
19:12, 15, 21.
2:23, 36; 3:13-14; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-28;