December 25, 2013
Killing Jesus -- A Must Read
By Mike McManus
Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus, is a must read by all serious
What can O’Reilly (and his co-author, Martin Dugard) tell you about Jesus that
you did not know? It describes the existing culture and profiles his enemies.
When Jesus at age 12 is confronted by his parents at the Temple, Mary asks him,
“Why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously
searching for you.”
Jesus replies, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my father’s house?” If the Temple
rabbis overheard that comment, they don’t let on. “If the boy is inferring that
God is his actual father. then it is tantamount to blasphemy, being a claim to
divinity,” writes O’Reilly.
Fortunately, he was not yet of age and isn’t responsible for his words. However,
Jesus soon learns that calling himself the Son of God could lead “to a very
public execution. The Jews would stone Jesus for such language and the Romans
might kill him for suggesting he is their divine emperor’s equal.”
However, Jesus revealed himself at the outset of his ministry, according to
John’s Gospel, when he entered the Temple and overturned the tables of the money
changers, saying “How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?”
His miracles – the healing of lepers, the feeding of the 5,000 - quickly gain
followers. His powerful preaching, such as his Sermon on the Mount – dazzle
audiences. That also earns enemies among religious leaders, the Pharisees and
especially the Temple high priest, Caiaphas. Lacking his skill as a preacher and
unable to perform miracles, they view Jesus as a threat to their power.
“Jesus has become a victim of his own celebrity, and with every passing day, his
life is more and more in danger. Many Galileans believe Jesus is the Christ –
the anointed earthly king who will overthrow the Romans and rule his people as
the king of the Jews, as David did a thousand years ago,” O’Reilly writes.
That makes him a threat to the Romans. However, Jesus is careful never to
suggest that the people of Galilee rise up against Rome.
The Pharisees can’t simply kill him, but must find him guilty of violating
religious law. That’s why a team of them follow him around to try to trap him.
However, they’ve never encountered such a spiritual and intellectual rival who
regularly outwits them.
For example, Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath, which
Pharisees publicly condemn as a violation of religious law. Jesus deftly
responds, “There is nothing unlawful about doing good.”
Jesus skillfully undermines their authority. “If allowed to flourish, his
movement will destroy their way of life, stripping them of wealth and
privilege,” the book asserts.
Religious leaders dress in expensive robes. By contrast, Jesus dresses like his
followers. And Jesus attacks Pharisees directly: “Isaiah was right when he
prophesied about you hypocrites: `These people honor me with their lips, but
their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but
rules taught by men.’”
Caiaphas had been high priest for 12 years, unlike four predecessors serving
only one year each. He builds a relationship with Pontius Pilate, the Roman
governor. “The last thing Pilate or Caiaphas needs is a messianic figure to
upset this careful balance of power.”
Zechariah predicted 500 years earlier: “See your king comes to you, righteous
and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey.”
When Jesus takes that step on Palm Sunday, he knows his days are numbered. Jesus
predicts what will happen: The chief priests “will condemn him to death and will
turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the
third day he will be raised to life.”
Once again, Jesus enters the Temple and overturns the money changers’ tables,
saying “My house will be called a house of prayer,” quoting Isaiah. His arrest
is now justifiable. He called the Temple his home – as if he were God. But they
hesitate. The crowds love him
Judas asks for 30 silver coins – four months wages – to betray him. Jesus is
interrogated illegally at night. Caiaphas asks, “Tell us if you are the Christ,
the Son of God.”
“Yes. It is as you say.”
Caiaphas replies, “He has spoken blasphemy.”
What’s disappointing about Killing Jesus is its doubt about Easter. It sneers,
“Scripture puts forth that Jesus rose from the dead” and appeared 12 times to
his followers. “Puts forth?”
O’Reilly and Dugard are Catholics who should know that without the Resurrection,
Jesus was not the Messiah.
Nevertheless, the book superbly explains why he was killed.
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