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The Profession of Faith

153

Paragraph 2. Jesus Died Crucified

I. T

he

T

rial of

J

esus

Divisions among the Jewish authorities concerning Jesus

595

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.

378

This is

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.”

379

596

The religious authorities in Jerusalemwere not unanimous about

what stance to take toward Jesus.

380

The Pharisees threatened to excom-

municate his followers.

381

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.”

382

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.

383

The high priests also threatened Pilate politically

so that he would condemn Jesus to death.

384

Jews are not collectively responsible for Jesus’ death

597

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

cost.

385

Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in

378

Jn

12:42; cf. 7:50; 9:16-17; 10:19-21; 19:38-39.

379

Acts

6:7; 15:5; 21:20.

380 Cf.

Jn

9:16;

Jn

10:19.

381 Cf.

Jn

9:22.

382

Jn

11:48-50.

383 Cf.

Mt

26:66;

Jn

18:31;

Lk

23:2, 19.

384 Cf.

Jn

19:12, 15, 21.

385 Cf.

Mk

15:11;

Acts

2:23, 36; 3:13-14; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-28;

1 Thess

2:14-15.

1753

1735