In the spring of 30 A.D. Jesus was handed over to the Roman authorities by the most God-fearing nation in the world to be crucified. Jesus was doing three things that set them against him.
What Happened That Led to Christ's Death?
In the spring of 30 A.D. the leaders of the Jewish nation – the most God-fearing in all the world – handed Jesus over to the Roman occupying forces. He was tortured – and then sentenced to the most gruesome way to die – by crucifixion. The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate declared Jesus innocent 3 times. Then he symbolically washed his hands of having anything to do with his death.
So, what happened that led to his death? First, Someone as good as Jesus makes us all look bad. Human nature has something in it that is very twisted and ugly. We don’t like seeing someone who is nicer, kinder and more gentle than we are. It makes us feel small next to them. Now imagine living next to Jesus – a picture of moral perfection. You’d either love him and strive to be better yourself or you’d hate him and be determined to get rid of him. So when the Jewish crowd cried out for his crucifixion, it wasn’t hard to understand. Someone that good makes everyone look bad. There would be no peace until he was gone. His goodness was too much of a threat.
Jesus put his finger on this dark side of human nature when he said, “God’s light has come into the world but people loved the darkness more than the light because their deeds were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.” John 3: 19-20
Besides making us all look bad, Jesus was rocking the boat and people were afraid. Jesus seemed to set himself against the whole Jewish system of religion. His mission was rocking their way of life and the fragile peace they had with the Roman occupiers.
Now --- The focal points of Jewish worship were the temple, the law, and the Sabbath. So how were they to make sense of it when Jesus said that his very person could be regarded as a kind of “timeless” temple that God would raise up after His death and make the center of spiritual worship. These were mysterious words that would later come to haunt Jesus at his trial.
Then we see Jesus totally opposed to the literal interpretations of the law of Moses that would cause the ordinary person untold hardships. He was ruthless in his attacks on the Pharisees and Scribes for their dishonesty and hypocrisy.
And then there was the Sabbath. Literally thousands of rules had been laid out by the Jewish clergy as to what a person could or couldn’t do on the Sabbath. It would have been hard to walk through the day without breaking at least one of them. But Jesus delighted to do just that. In fact he did many of his healings on the Sabbath insisting that it was a day to save life and not to oppress it.
So Jesus was making them all look bad, and rocking their religious boat. But there was a third thing too --- Jesus was hanging around people who were downright sinful. Any pious Jew wouldn’t be caught dead near a prostitute or a tax collector. But here was Jesus claiming to be equal with God and hanging around with just such folks as these. He seemed to have no sense of propriety. Worse yet, Jesus helped non-Jews such as – their Roman oppressors, Syro-Phoenicians and the hated Samaritans – all of them were uncircumcised scum to the Jew.
But this was the way that Jesus showed us that God cares for the bad characters as well as the respectable ones. He cares for everyone no matter what their nationality or identity. He was truly rocking the tight knit Jewish world at that time and was on a collision course with his opponents.