…in Alexandria, where there was a great need to damp down revolutionary feeling after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” The words, attributed to Jesus here, had a poignant significance in the light of the disaster that had befallen the Palestinian Jews as a result of their resort to war. ….
The trial of Jesus. Was Christ condemned to death by the Jews as tradition has held for so long, or was he really executed by te Romans as a political offender? …
The historian who seeks to understand why the Romans executed Jesus for sedition has first to investigate the Gospel of Mark. They have to penetrate Mark’s apologetic presentation to discern what really happened on that first Good Friday. So far as a reasonable assessment can be made, it would seem that the Jewish authorities arrested Jesus because they regarded him as a menace to the peace and well-being of the Jewish state, for which they were responsible to the Romans.
After interrogating Jesus, they handed him over to Pontius Pilate, accusing him of seditious teaching and action. Pilate, who probably knew something of Jesus’ activities, accepted the charge and commanded the crucifixion. He have orders that the titilus, an inscription placed at the head of the cross stating the reason for a criminal’s condemnation, should read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”
Pilate also ordered that two lestai should be crucified with Jesus. The fact is significant, for we know that the Romans called the Zealots, the Jewish resistance fighters, lestai, ie., brigands. These men had doubtless taken part in the recent insurrection in Jerusalem. That Jesus was crucified between two rebels surely indicates that Pilate regarded him as such.
Thus, to the extent that the historian can today evaluate the evidence concerning the Roman execution of Jesus, it would seem that Pontius Pilate regarded Jesus as guilty of sedition. Whether he was right in his assessment is another matter….
(see link at end)…Some Christian commentators connect “wicked” with the lestai (“thieves,” “brigands”), used by Matthew and Mark (Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27) to describe the two men crucified along with Jesus. But, crucifixion was not used as a means for executing common criminals. These two men were put to death for opposing Roman rule of the Land of Israel and not for being “wicked.” The fact is that lestai was a derogatory Roman term for insurrectionists, who, by armed action, opposed Roman rule. Moreover, according to the Gospels, Jesus was not buried with them. In fact, the point is made that he was buried in an empty tomb.
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