I was listening to a sermon on Palm Sunday and Good Friday last Sunday and it got me to wondering ... if Jesus came today, lived the same perfect life he did 2000 years ago, would we be any different than they were back then?
Let me state what I consider the response was "back then".
The common people felt ill used by the politicians (the Pharisees) and the press (the scribes). They (the people) perceived that those who were in power over them used their (those in power) positions to control the peoples lives, while exempting themselves not only from their own petty laws, but the "real" law handed down from the ancient times.
They (the people) saw Jesus as someone who not only cared for their well-being and went out of his way to help them, but also as someone who had the potential to depose those leaders who made their lives miserable, AND who had already demonstrated the courage to do it (driving the money changers out of the temple for cheating people).
They (the leaders) saw Jesus as a threat. Not only did he did not support their elitist lifestyles, he showed no interest in building up his own power structure. Had he simply been someone who wanted power on his own, they probably could have struck a deal with him, allowing him to be a popular figurehead as long as he supported their positions. I am sure that most of them would have been satisfied with a compromise that kept them in power, especially if, through him, they could have ultimately achieved an even greater hold over the people.
However, since he would not support them, and they couldn't control him or compromise with him, their only alternative was to have him executed. They bought off wittnesses and brought him up on false charges, took him to the highest court in the land and used their political influence to have him condemned. The judge of that high court knew that he was helpless to fight the politics, so he appealed to the common people.
Now let's pause and think about that. Not too long ago, Jesus had held a great feast and fed everyone from just five biscuits and two fish. And less than a month from his trial he had raised a man from the dead. For about three years he had healed anyone and everyone who was brought to him, not asking for any donations or political alliegence. With him as their leader, the people would have someone who (1) cared about them at a personal level, (2) could wipe out hunger without ever taking a penny for taxes, (3) was the perfect health care system again without any taxes, and (4) could even wipe out death. Less than a week before his trial all the people wanted to make him the king. They lined the street to watch him come in with his entourage. They waved at him and went so far as to throw their coats in the street to pave his way ... sort of an early "red carpet" treatment.
These were the people that the judge asked to over-rule his verdict and free Jesus.
And what was their response?
"Crucify him!" ... or as we would say to day, "hang him."
Why? How could everyone flip so quickly? Well, you see, the leaders sent people into the crowd to "seed" the chant. And, the crowd went along. Once the "crucify him" chant got started, almost everyone joined in. It was the popular thing to do at that point.
I doubt if any of the people who had actually had their lives changed by Jesus, anyone who had a friend or loved one healed, joined in that chant. Oh, probably a lot of people who had listened to a few of his lectures joined in, maybe even a bunch who had eaten the fish and biscuits, but none who had actually seen how he treated people and defended the weak and fallen. But then, the number of people who knew Jesus was probably very small compared to the number who knew about him. And to those who only knew about him, it just wasn't all that important.
So what about today? I was listening to a "man on the street" interview where the interviewer was asking people about Jesus and about the bible. I was utterly amazed at the things that people "knew" about the bible, and even more horrified at what they "knew" about Jesus. There are a number of people who believe that Jesus had an affair with Mary Magdalene, or was married to her ... because "that's just the way people are" or because they had heard it from someone esle, there were some who even thought that it was in the bible.
So, given the same circumstances today. If Jesus did what he did, and offended the powers that be, and had the first televised trial in history ...
call 1-800-xxx-xxx1 to have him freed, or
call 1-800-xxx-xxx2 to have him executed
what do I think we would do?
Sadly, I think that the trial would presented in such a biased fashion, and also that so many would be so eager to condemn a man who spoke out against the moral infection that we call "sin", that it would be a landslide to have him executed. I think that history would not only repeat itself, but that it would be an even greated landslide than before.