The Crucifixion of Jesus, part 3

It seems apparent that Jesus caused enough trouble to draw the ire of the Romans, who eventually saw his movement—a movement of peaceful non-compliance, as a threat to the stability of the state. The Romans would have made this decision without consulting the Jewish leadership, and had the Jewish leadership presented any opposition, the Romans would have ignored them anyway. The story about Jesus’ ‘trial’ in the Bible is a complete contrivance in every respect, from the day of the week it was allegedly held, to the manner in which it proceeded. This is just not the way things worked in Roman-occupied Judea.

Rather, the Romans would have simply decided to execute Jesus and done it. No long walk carrying the cross, no tortured journey to Golgotha (Calvary). He would have been taken, most likely, to the nearest Olive tree, a cross-member attached to it, and hung there to die. Crucifixion was reserved for those who had committed crimes against the state. It was a tortuous way to die, and the Romans generally only crucified people to send a message to other rebels: This is what you get if you dare to speak against the might of Rome.

Jesus was crucified not because God required a human blood sacrifice (what sort of God is that, anyway?), but because, being made of and realizing he was of the same substance of God, Jesus saw through the evil veil of this world and did something about it. Jesus called to his people, as he continues to call to us today, to resist and fight against any human system that disenfranchises, that enslaves, that enables a few people to control all the wealth and all the resources. Jesus taught that being human was more than a physical state of being—it is a spiritual state, and that when we begin to understand our spiritual truth, our non-dual, single-minded, God-attuned being, that we change. We become anointed. Jesus understood his true self, and continues to try to teach us about our true selves.

As Christians—people who follow, not worship Jesus, this is what we are called to do. We are called to connect with God so intimately and become so aware that we too are made of the very substance of God, that we also see through the veil of evil encasing the world in distrust, hatred, inequality and despair—and do something about it, even if it means we will be crucified.

The stories about Jesus’ crucifixion aren’t meant to exalt Jesus to a mythological status within the Greco-Roman pantheon. That certainly happened, as Greeks and Romans displaced the original Jewish People of The Way and corrupted Jesus’ ideas with Greco-Roman dualistic thinking. Originally, though, the Jesus stories were meant to compel us to follow him more closely, and to encourage us that a life lived attempting to change the systemic evils of the world is never wasted.

Christianity has become obsessed with the crucifixion as substitutionary atonement for the sins of all human beings. It’s an unhealthy interpretation of Jesus’ life and misses the point, which is that we are all responsible for changing the world. Jesus cannot and should not be our scapegoat if we are going to be his faithful followers.

Besides, crucifixion is only part of his story—it’s certainly not the end. More important than the crucifixion is the idea of resurrection, and much more important than even resurrection is the idea of ascension. All three concepts were intended by the biblical authors to work together. Over the last 1000 years or so, Christian thinkers like Augustine have taken the stories out of context, and separated them into their own little philosophical files. This is disingenuous to the original authors and editors of the biblical stories who saw crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension as a trilogy. Crucifixion is simply part 1. The story of Jesus—and the story of us—does not end at crucifixion.

Death is symbolic of new beginnings. The resurrection story gives us hope that the evils of the world will never triumph, and the ascension story shows us our true goal—a goal we can and are intended to achieve while we are alive on this earthly plane: Complete and utter Oneness with God, and through that realization of Oneness exemplified by Christ, wholeness and love, peace on earth for all human beings.

The Christian story is a beautiful story of love and hope—once we get past the crucifixion as the end game.

Meditation: I am ascending to wholeness with all being by recognizing all things as the very substance of all being: God. 

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