Chapter 46 - Why was Jesus Crucified?

The Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, medieval illustration from the Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (12th century). Creative Commons Attribute - Andy Chalkley.

Jesus was preaching love and kindness. I often explain that Jesus was trying to tell us with these simplified sentences. “You are doing things wrong. You need to start being nice to each other.” The modern saying might be: “Do the right thing.” There is no rule book on how to do the right thing. We inwardly know what “Do the right thing.” means. We do not need a rule book on “Do the right thing.”. We inwardly know what “Do the right thing.” means.

Jesus was preaching loving kindness but he was also preaching justice. Justice of all types. Jesus stood against injustice. Jesus stood up against authority when authority was wrong. Teaching kindness and forgiveness would not be likely to upset authorities or those with power and influence. Teaching justice implies fault on the part of local religious leaders, the Roman occupiers, and any other persons with power. He upset the 1% of the time. He was a threat to the continuance of power by the controlling elites. The elites have the ability to control by various means. They can control by legal force through a court system or an illegal force with thuggery. They can also control by debt and usury or by manipulation of the money system.

The Romans used crucifixion for pirates, troublesome slaves, and enemies of the state. Logic says that Jesus would have been crucified for being an enemy of the state as he was neither a pirate nor a troublesome slave. Pilot would not have crucified him for preaching peace and kindness, so it would have been for preaching about justice. The execution was probably encouraged by the local leaders who may have been religious leaders or leaders by financial enslavement. This was possibly supported by an angry crowd which may have been a ‘rent a crowd”. The local ruling elites would be pleased to see him go because Jesus objected to the manipulation of money and was thus a threat to their income and control.

Society had become corrupted. Some were getting very rich whilst the peasants were suffering in poverty. The story of driving the money changers from the temple is either one single event or it is one of his regular preaching themes. So references to moneychangers would be a reference to the manipulation of money. The words of Jesus about money are a bit more developed than the words of Moses. Moses said:

Moses  “Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury.” [Deuteronomy 23:19]

Usury is the practice of lending money and expecting more in return. This is an impossibility as there is not enough money to repay the loan. This creates unpayable debt leading to dispossession of assets. By the time of Jesus, the methods of abuse of money had become more sophisticated. Jesus objected to persons of influence manipulating the exchange rate for distant coins in a manner to impoverish the poor. He took a stand against the practice of ‘making money from money’. It was the stand against the practice of ‘making money from money’ that encouraged the creditor class to encourage Pilot to kill him. Jesus threatened to stop money manipulation, and thus the income of the creditor class. He also was likely to create civic disorder which would upset the abusers who would then possibly lose their privileged position of power under the Roman Occupation. This action would have made him a prime candidate for the affluent creditor class to recommend him for crucifixion. ‘Who killed Jesus?’ is a very contentious topic.

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Jesus was upset at the sight of the moneychangers in the temple. He strode in and tipped over the tables of these moneychangers and drove them out of the temple area using a whip. This appears to be the only time we can read about him using violence.

Christ drives the Usurers out of the Temple, a woodcut by Lucas Cranach the Elder in Passionary of Christ and Antichrist. Converted to black-white gif by Andy Chalkley

The Hebrews were required to pay their temple tax with the half-shekel. The half-shekel was a silver coin containing a half ounce of silver. It had no emperor stamped on it. The temple hierarchy had deemed that it was the only acceptable coin ‘according to God’. The supply of these coins was limited. This gave the moneychangers an advantage. They ‘cornered’ the market in half-shekels and raised the price to unacceptable levels. They enabled large profits and turned a time of worship into a profiteering exercise. Jesus believed that the practice was as a ‘stealing from the people’. Jesus called those that practiced and authorized the practice “A den of thieves”.

Humans live by trading with each other. Money tokens are an essential component of civilized life. Those that generate the money are in a position to abuse the trust placed in them by society. Those that create credit in ledgers which they lend out are in a position to abuse the trust placed in them. These people can manipulate parameters to their advantage. Laws alone are not enough to prevent them taking advantage. They will find a way around the laws. Ethics is involved here. Only with a strong value system that disallows the ‘making of money from money’ and the manipulation of money systems for personal gain can we hope to prevent the advantaged from taking advantage of the disadvantaged. Moses did not prevent usury. Jesus got nailed to a scaffold for his attempts to stop the people of Moses from abusing money. The Church operating under the name of Jesus Christ banned usury for a thousand years, but the practice continued. The Muslims had a good approach to usury. Mohamed was clever enough to realize that business needs money to before it can make money. The Muslims created a complex set of rules to prevent abuse without damaging trading activities. In the last three hundred years, the church rules on usury have been relaxed. The world has since experienced unprecedented development accompanied with unprecedented levels of debt. The value system of religion is being swept aside for nation-state legal systems that are easily manipulated to tolerate unprecedented levels of greed and personal wealth accumulation that is becoming a collapse waiting to happen.

To say that Jesus died ‘for our sins’ appears to be a distortion used by the organizers of the Christian Church. This has the effect of making us feel guilty. Jesus did not preach guilt nor does it make sense to say the Romans nailed him so a scaffold to pay for the sins of those yet born. And the term ‘Christian’ did not even exist at the time.

Jesus was a revolutionary who preached kindness and preached against oppression and injustice. Jesus was trying to make a change in a society that has gone astray under the rules created by Moses. Jesus made a huge statement when he tipped over the tables of the moneylenders in the temple. He threatened the monopoly of the moneylenders. This monopoly was clearly supported by the religious leaders. In those days, the religious leaders and the leaders of the state were one and the same thing. The religious leaders and the money changers would certainly be out to neutralize him because of his revolutionary ideas. More than anything, Jesus was a threat to the continuance of the extortionate profits they were receiving from usury and the monopolization of the silver half-shekel. Jesus was a threat to the luxurious lifestyles led by the priestly class. Jesus had to go, to protect their money manipulation.

Emperor Constantine

Years later Emperor Constantine instituted debt-free money spent into society. Constantine also made Christianity the main religion of the Roman Empire. One common story was that he made Christianity the main religion of the Roman Empire because Christians believed in heaven and so made better warriors as they did not fear death if fighting for a good cause. The debt-free money was spent into society on public works and enabled a massive reduction in debt and enabled a reduction of extortion and usury.

One has to remember that the Bible was written after the death of Jesus. So it has sentences like “Render under Caesar that which is Caesar’s”. This sentence implies obedience to your rulers whereas Jesus stood up against injustice by rulers. Jesus was possibly an anarchist but he was certainly a rebel. Usury, with its poverty creating injustices, would have been pretty high on the list of institutionalized injustice that Jesus preached against. The message put out by the Occupy movement is closer to the message of Jesus than the message of the current Christian church.

Occupy Wall Street. We are the 99%. We will no longer remain silent. Converted to black-white gif by Andy Chalkley

Jesus took on the ‘moneylenders’ who were the most powerful entity in that era. The ‘moneylenders’ of the modern era have become the most powerful force on the planet. Jesus is painted as a man of peace. This is a distortion to pacify the citizenry. Jesus stood up against the most powerful force of the money manipulators. Some might say that he was tortured and crucified by Mammon for his activism against money manipulation. The Church forbade usury for around 1500 years. You may be able to detect that Mammon is financing a war against the Christian value system at the present time. Some reconstruction of Christianity may be needed to correct the situation. The current group of bankers, speculators, investors, financiers, and derivatives traders is to the current Christian population the equivalent of the money changers that Jesus drove out of the temple.

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