As it is Easter today, I will blog about The Passion of The Christ. I will post several information from Wikipedia before giving my defense of the death penalty in Christ’s death. I will be watching Mel Gibson’s film, ‘The Passion of The Christ’ in celebrating Good Friday and Easter.
|Crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, by Marco Palmezzano (Uffizi, Florence), painting ca. 1490|
|The Crucifixion of Christ by Simon Vouet.|
INTERNET SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passion_%28Christianity%29
The Passion is the Christian theological term used for the events and suffering – physical, spiritual, and mental – of Jesus in the hours before and including his trial and execution by crucifixion. The Crucifixion of Jesus is an event central to Christian beliefs.
The etymological origins of the word derive from the Greek verb πάσχω (paschō), to suffer, from passages such as Matthew
The term Agony of Jesus is more specifically applied to the Agony in the Garden (Greek agon), Jesus' action praying before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane; similarly to passion, agony has been extended to denote a frame of mind.
Those parts of the four Gospels that describe these events are known as the "Passion narratives". The non-canonical Gospel of Peter is also a Passion narrative. In the liturgical calendar, the Passion is commemorated in Holy Week, beginning on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Saturday.
The Crown of Thorns by Matthias Stom.
The accounts of the Passion are found in the four canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Three of these, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, known as the Synoptic Gospels, give very similar accounts. The Gospel of John includes additional details.
The Passion begins at Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22 and John 12 with the conspiracy against Jesus by the Jewish chief priests and the teachers of the law, and unfolds in the following events:
A meal a few days before Passover. A woman anoints Jesus. He says that for this she will always be remembered.
In Jerusalem, the Last Supper shared by Jesus and his disciples. Jesus gives final instructions, predicts his betrayal, and tells them all to remember him.
On the path to Gethsemane after the meal. Jesus tells them they will all fall away that night; after Peter protests he will not, Jesus says Peter will deny him three times before the cock crows.
Gethsemane, later that night. As the disciples rest, Jesus prays; then Judas Iscariot leads in either "a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees" (accompanied according to Luke's Gospel by the chief priests and elders), or a "large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and elders of the people", which arrests Jesus; all his disciples run away.
The high priest's palace, later that night. The arresting party brings Jesus to the Sanhedrin (Jewish supreme court); according to Luke's Gospel, Jesus is beaten by his Jewish guards prior to his examination; the court examines him, in the course of which, according to John's Gospel, Jesus is struck in the face by one of the Jewish officials; the court determine he deserves to die (see Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus). According to Matthew's Gospel, the court then "spat in his face and struck him with their fists". They then send him to Pontius Pilate.
The courtyard outside the high priest's palace, the same time. Peter has followed Jesus and joined the mob awaiting Jesus’ fate; they suspect he is a sympathizer, so Peter denies he knows Jesus. Suddenly the cock crows and Peter remembers what Jesus had said.
The governor's palace, early morning. Pilate, the Roman governor, examines Jesus, decides he is innocent; the Jewish leaders and the crowd demand Jesus’ death; Pilate gives them the choice of saving Barabbas, a criminal, or saving Jesus. In response to the screaming mob Pilate sends Jesus out to be crucified. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Judas, the betrayer, is filled with remorse and tries to return the money he was paid for betraying Jesus. When the high priests say that that is his affair, Judas throws the money into the temple, goes off, and hangs himself.
Golgotha, a hill outside Jerusalem, later morning through mid afternoon. Jesus is crucified and dies.
During the arrest in Gethsemane, someone (Peter according to John) takes a sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant, Malchus. According to the synoptic gospels, the high priest who examines Jesus is Caiaphas; in John, Jesus is also interrogated by Annas, Caiaiphas' father-in-law.
The Gospel of Luke states that Pilate sends Jesus to be judged by Herod Antipas because as a Galilean he is under his jurisdiction. Herod is excited at first to see Jesus and hopes Jesus will perform a miracle for him; he asks Jesus several questions but Jesus does not answer. Herod then mocks him and sends him back to Pilate after giving him an "elegant" robe to wear.
All the Gospels have a man named Barabbas released by Pilate instead of Jesus. Matthew, Mark and John have Pilate offer a choice between Jesus and Barabbas to the crowd; Luke lists no choice offered by Pilate, but represents the crowd demanding his release.
In all the Gospels, Pilate asks Jesus if he is King of the Jews and Jesus replies So you say. Once condemned by Pilate, he was flogged before execution. The Canonical Gospels, except Luke, record that Jesus is then taken by the soldiers to the Praetorium where, according to Matthew and Mark, the whole contingent of soldiers has been called together. They place a purple robe on him, put a crown of thorns on his head, and according to Matthew, put a rod in his hand. They mock him by hailing him as King of the Jews, paying homage and hitting him on the head with the rod.
According to the Gospel of John, Pilate has Jesus brought out a second time, wearing the purple robe and the crown of thorns, in order to appeal his innocence before the crowd, saying "Ecce homo", "Behold the man". But, John represents, the priests urge the crowd to demand Jesus' death. Pilate resigns himself to the decision, washing his hands (according to Matthew) before the people as a sign that Jesus' blood will not be upon him.
Mark and Matthew record that Jesus is returned his own clothes, prior to being led out for execution. According to the Gospel accounts he is forced, like other victims of crucifixion, to drag his own cross to Golgotha, the location of the execution. The three Synoptic Gospels refer to a man called Simon of Cyrene who is made to carry the cross (Mark 15:21, Matthew 27:32, Luke 23:26), while in the Gospel of John (19:17) Jesus is made to carry His own cross. The Gospel of Mark gives the names of Simon's children, Alexander and Rufus. However, the Gospel of Luke refers to Simon carrying the cross after Jesus, in that it states: "they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus". Luke adds that Jesus' female followers follow, mourning his fate, but that he responds by quoting Hosea 10:8.
The Synoptic Gospels state that on arrival at Golgotha, Jesus is offered wine laced with myrrh to lessen the pain, but he refuses it. Jesus is then crucified, according to Mark, at the third hour (9 AM) the morning after the Passover meal, but according to John he is handed over to be crucified at the sixth hour (noon) the day before the Passover meal, though many resolve this by saying that the Synoptics use Jewish time, and that John uses Roman time. Pilate has a plaque fixed to Jesus' cross inscribed, (according to John) in Hebrew, Greek and the Latin - Iesu Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum, meaning Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Mark has the plaque say simply, King of the Jews. The Gospels then state that the soldiers divide Jesus' clothes among themselves, except for one garment for which they cast lots. The Gospel of John claims that this fulfills a prophecy from Psalms 22:18. Some of the crowd who have been following taunt Jesus, saying "He trusts in God; let God deliver him now!", and suggest that Jesus might perform a miracle to release himself from the cross.
According to the Gospels, two thieves are also crucified, one on each side of him. According to Luke, one of the thieves reviles Jesus, while the other declares Jesus innocent and begs that he might be remembered when Jesus comes to his kingdom (see Saint Dismas).
John records that Mary, his mother, and two other women stand by the cross as does a disciple, described as the one whom Jesus loved. Jesus commits his mother to this disciple's care. According to the synoptics, the sky becomes dark at midday and the darkness lasts for three hours, until the ninth hour when Jesus cries out Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? (My God, why have you forsaken me?) The centurion standing guard, who has seen how Jesus has died, declares Jesus innocent (Luke) or Son of God (Matthew, Mark).
John also says that, as was the custom, the soldiers come and break the legs of the thieves, so that they will die faster, but that on coming to Jesus they find him already dead. A soldier pierces his side with a spear.
The various words of Jesus during the Crucifixion are collected from the different Gospel accounts as the Last Words of Christ.
Icon of the Passion, detail showing (left) the Flagellation and (right) Ascent to Golgotha (fresco by Theophanes the Cretan, Stavronikita Monastery, Mount Athos).
Crucifixion by Albrecht Altdorfer
Gospel of Peter
Further claims concerning the Passion are made in some non-canonical early writings. Another passion narrative is found in the fragmentary Gospel of Peter, long known to scholars through references, and of which a fragment was discovered in Cairo in 1884.
The narrative begins with Pilate washing his hands, as in Matthew, but the Jews and Herod refuse this. Joseph of Arimathea, before Jesus has been crucified, asks for his body, and Herod says he is going to take it down to comply with the Jewish custom of not leaving a dead body hung on a tree overnight. Herod then turns Jesus over the people, who drag him, give him the purple robe, crown him with thorns, and beat and flog him.
There are also two criminals, crucified on either side of him and, as in Luke, one begs Jesus for forgiveness. The writer says Jesus is silent as they crucify him, "...as if in no pain." Jesus is labeled the King of Israel on his cross and his clothes are divided and gambled over.
As in the canonical Gospels, darkness covers the land. Jesus is also given vinegar to drink. Peter has "My Power, My Power, why have you forsaken me?" as the last words of Jesus, rather than "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" as quoted in Mark. He is then "taken up", possibly a euphemism for death or maybe an allusion to heaven. Peter then has a resurrection, similar to the other books.
Serapion of Antioch urged the exclusion of the Gospel of Peter from the Church because Docetists were using it to bolster their theological claims, which Serapion rejected. Many modern scholars also reject this conclusion, as the statement about Jesus being silent "as if in no pain" seems to be based on Isaiah's description of the suffering servant, "as a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7).
El Greco's Jesus Carrying the Cross, 1580.
Old Testament prophecy
Christians interpret at least three passages of the Old Testament as prophecies about Jesus’ Passion.
The first and most obvious is the one from Isaiah 52:13–53:12 (either 8th or 6th century BC). This prophetic oracle describes a sinless man who will atone for the sins of his people. By his voluntary suffering, he will save sinners from the just punishment of God. The death of Jesus is said to fulfil this prophecy. E.g., "He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed" (53:2-5).
The second prophecy of Christ's Passion is the ancient text which Jesus himself quoted, while he was dying on the cross. From the cross, Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? which means, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" These words of Jesus were a quotation of the ancient Psalm . King David, in Psalm 22, foretold the sufferings of the messiah. E.g., "I am a worm and no man, the reproach of men and the outcast of the people. All who see me, laugh me to scorn, they draw apart their lips, and wag their heads: ‘He trusts in the Lord: let him free him, let him deliver him if he loves him.’ Stand not far from me, for I am troubled; be thou near at hand: for I have no helper… Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots" (Psalm 22:7-19). The words "they have pierced my hands and feet" are disputed, however.
The third main prophecy of the Passion is from the Book of the Wisdom of Solomon. Protestant Christians place it in the Apocrypha, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox among the deuterocanonical books. But it was written about 150 BC, and many have understood these verses (12-20 of chapter 2) as a direct prophecy of Jesus’ Passion. E.g., "Let us lie in wait for the just, because he is not for our turn… He boasteth that he hath the knowledge of God, and calleth himself the son of God…and glorieth that he hath God for his father. Let us see then if his words be true… For if he be the true son of God, he will defend him, and will deliver him from the hands of his enemies. Let us examine him by outrages and tortures… Let us condemn him to a most shameful death … These things they thought, and were deceived, for their own malice blinded them" (Wisdom 2:12-20).
In addition to the above, it deserves to be mentioned that at least three other, less elaborate messianic prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus’ crucifixion. Namely, the following Old Testament passages.
"Many are the afflictions of the just man; but the Lord delivers him from all of them. He guards all his bones: not even one of them shall be broken" (Psalm 34:20).
"And they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (Psalm 69:21).
"And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son; and they shall grieve over him, as the manner is to grieve for the death of the firstborn" (Zechariah 12:10).
A French set of the Stations of the Cross in painted enamel.
New Testament prophecy
The Gospel explains how these old prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus’ crucifixion.
"So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with Jesus; but when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water… For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘Not a bone of him shall be broken.’ And again another scripture says, ‘They shall look on him whom they have pierced’" (John 19:32-37).
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is described as prophesying his own Passion and his Resurrection three times:
- On the way to Caesarea Philippi, predicting that the Son of Man will be killed and rise within three days
- After the transfiguration of Jesus, again predicting that the Son of Man will be killed and rise within three days
- On the way to Jerusalem, predicting that the Son of Man will be delivered to the leading Pharisees and Sadducees, be condemned to death, delivered to the Gentiles, mocked, scourged, killed, and rise within three days
Christians argue that these are cases of genuine and fulfilled prophecy and many scholars see semitic features and old tradition in Mark 9:31. Skeptics argue they are cases of postdiction (prophecy after the events have already occurred).
After the third prophecy, the Gospel of Mark states that the brothers James and John ask Jesus to be his left and right hand men, but Jesus asks if they can drink from the cup he must drink from. They say that they can do this. Jesus confirms this, but says that the places at his right and left hand are reserved for others. Many Christian see this as being a reference to the two criminals at Jesus' crucifixion, thus relating to the Passion. The cup is sometimes interpreted as the symbol of his death, in the light of Jesus' prayer at Gethsemane "Let this cup be taken from me!"
Fresco depicting the trial and beating of Jesus (17th century, St. John the Baptist Church, Yaroslavl, Russia).
Russian Orthodox icon of the Passion with scenes of the martyrdom of the Twelve Apostles, symbolizing how all are called to enter into the Passion (Moscow Kremlin).
INTERNET SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barabbas
Barabbas or Jesus Barabbas (literally "son of the father" or "Jesus, son of the father" respectively) is a figure in the account of the Passion of Christ, in which he is the insurrectionary whom Pontius Pilate freed at the Passover feast in Jerusalem, instead of Jesus Christ.
The penalty for Barabbas' crime was death by crucifixion, but according to the four canonical gospels and the non-canonical Gospel of Peter there was a prevailing Passover custom in Jerusalem that allowed or required Pilate, the praefectus or governor of Judaea, to commute one prisoner's death sentence by popular acclaim, and the "crowd" (ochlos) — which has become "the Jews" and "the multitude" in some sources — were offered a choice of whether to have either Barabbas or Jesus Christ released from Roman custody. According to the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and the accounts in John and the Gospel of Peter, the crowd chose Barabbas to be released and Jesus of Nazareth to be crucified. A passage found only in the Gospel of Matthew has the crowd saying, "Let his blood be upon us and upon our children".
The story of Barabbas has special social significances, because it has historically been used to lay the blame for the crucifixion of Jesus on the Jews, and to justify anti-Semitism—an interpretation, known as Jewish deicide, dismissed by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2011 book Jesus of Nazareth, in which he also questions the historicity of the passage in Matthew.
Portrait by James Tissot.
Matthew refers to Barabbas only as a "notorious prisoner". Mark and Luke further refer to Barabbas as one involved in a stasis, a riot. John 18:40 refers to Barabbas as a lēstēs ("bandit"), "the word Josephus always employs when talking about Revolutionaries", Robert Eisenman observes.
Three gospels state that there was a custom at Passover during which the Roman governor would release a prisoner of the crowd's choice: Mark 15:6; Matthew 27:15; and John 18:39. Later copies of Luke contain a corresponding verse (Luke 23:17), though it is not present in the earliest manuscripts, and may be a later gloss to bring Luke into conformity. The gospels differ on whether the custom was a Roman one or a Jewish one, as part of the Jubilee.
No custom of releasing prisoners in Jerusalem is recorded in any historical document other than the gospels. An Ancient Roman celebration called Lectisternium involved feasting and sometimes included a temporary removal of the chains from all prisoners. However, J. Blinzler associates Barabbas' release with a passage in the Mishna Peshahim 8,6 which says that the Passover lamb may be offered 'for one whom they have promised to bring out of prison'. (J. Blinzler, The Trial of Jesus, 1959, pp218ff.)
INTERNET SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impenitent_thief
The impenitent thief was one of the two thieves who was crucified alongside Jesus. According to the Gospels, he taunted Jesus about not saving himself, while the penitent thief asked for mercy. The impenitent thief is given the apocryphal name Gestas, which first appears in the Gospel of Nicodemus, while his companion is called Dismas. Gestas was on the cross to the left of Jesus and Dismas was on the cross to the right of Jesus. In Jacobus de Voragine's "Golden Legend", the name of the impenitent thief is given as Gesmas. The impenitent thief is sometimes referred to as the "bad thief" in contrast to the good thief.
The apocryphal Arabic Infancy Gospel refers to Gestas and Dismas as Dumachus and Titus, respectively. According to tradition, Dumachus was one of a band of robbers who attacked Saint Joseph and the Holy Family on their Flight into Egypt as recorded in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Golden Legend.
The Impenitent thief is named Aram in the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth and "Gestas" in the novel The Good Thief by Barry Connolly.
INTERNET SOURCE: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penitent_thief
The Good Thief
c. 33 AD
Golgotha Hill outside Jerusalem
Eastern Orthodox Church
Wearing a loincloth either holding his cross or being crucified; sometimes, standing in Paradise
prisoners, especially condemned prisoners; undertakers; repentant thieves; Merizo, Guam, San Dimas, Durango
The Penitent thief, also known as the Thief on the Cross or the Good Thief, is an unnamed character mentioned in the Gospel of Luke who was crucified alongside Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him in his kingdom, unlike his companion the Impenitent thief. He is traditionally referred to as "St. Dismas".
In different Christian traditions different names have been given to the thief:
- In the Arabic First Infancy Gospel he is called Titus, and the impenitent thief Dumachus.
- In the Gospel of Nicodemus and Catholic tradition the name Dismas is given to the thief. He was never canonized by the Catholic Church but is venerated as a saint by local traditions as Saint Dismas (sometimes spelled "Dysmas" or in Spanish "Dimas"). The name Dismas for this thief may date back to the 4th century.
- In Coptic Orthodox tradition he is named Demas.
- In Codex Colbertinus he is named Zoatham.
- In Russian Orthodox tradition he is named Rach.
Gospel of Luke
Two men were crucified at the same time as Jesus, one on his right hand and one on his left (Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27-28, Luke 23:33, John 19:18), which Mark interprets as fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12. According to Matthew, both of the "thieves" mocked Jesus (Matthew 27:44); Luke however, mentions that
39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us." 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, "Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal." 42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 43 He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." 23:39-43
Today... in paradise
Main article: Paradise
The phrase translated "today... in paradise" in Luke 23:43 ("Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, σήμερον μετ᾿ ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ") is disputed in a minority of versions and commentaries. The Greek manuscripts are without punctuation, so attribution of the adverb "today" to the verb "be", as "be in paradise today" (the majority view), or the verb "say", as "today I say" (the minority view), is dependent on analysis of word order conventions in Koine Greek. The majority of ancient Bible translations also follow the majority view, with only the Aramaic Curetonian Gospels offering significant testimony to the minority view.
Saint Thomas Aquinas: "The words of The Lord (This day....in paradise) must therefore be understood not of an earthly or corporeal paradise, but of that spiritual paradise in which all may be, said to be, who are in the enjoyment of the divine glory. Hence to place, the thief went up with Christ to heaven, that he might be with Christ, as it was said to him: "Thou shalt be with Me in Paradise"; but as to reward, he was in Paradise, for he there tasted and enjoyed the divinity of Christ, together with the other saints."
Augustine of Hippo does not name the thief, but wonders if he might not have been baptized at some point.
According to tradition, the Good Thief was crucified to Jesus' right hand and the other thief was crucified to his left. For this reason, depictions of the crucifixion often show Jesus' head inclined to his right, showing his acceptance of the Good Thief. In the Russian Orthodox Church, both crucifixes and crosses are usually made with three bars: the top one, representing the titulus (the inscription that Pontius Pilate wrote and was nailed above Jesus' head); the longer crossbar on which Jesus' hands were nailed; and a slanted bar at the bottom representing the footrest to which Jesus' feet were nailed. The footrest is slanted, pointing up towards the Good Thief, and pointing down towards the other.
According to St. John Chrysostom, the thief dwelt in the desert and robbed or murdered anyone unlucky enough to cross his path. According to Pope Saint Gregory the Great he "was guilty of blood, even his brother's blood; (fratricide)".
The thief's conversion is sometimes given as an example of the necessary steps one must take to arrive at salvation through Christ: awareness of personal sin, repentance of sin, acceptance of Christ and salvation's promise of eternal life. Further, the argument is presented that baptism is not necessary for salvation since the thief had no opportunity for it.
Prayer of The Good Thief
Prayer to Saint Dismas: Glorious Saint Dismas, you alone of all the great Penitent Saints were directly canonized by Christ Himself; you were assured of a place in Heaven with Him "this day" because of the sincere confession of your sins to Him in the tribunal of Calvary and your true sorrow for them as you hung beside Him in that open confessional; you who by the direct sword thrust of your love and repentance did open the Heart of Jesus in mercy and forgiveness even before the centurion's spear tore it asunder; you whose face was closer to that of Jesus in His last agony, to offer Him a word of comfort, closer even than that of His Beloved Mother, Mary; you who knew so well how to pray, teach me the words to say to Him to gain pardon and the grace of perseverance; and you who are so close to Him now in Heaven, as you were during His last moments on earth, pray to Him for me that I shall never again desert Him, but that at the close of my life I may hear from Him the words He addressed to you: "This day thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." Amen
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. – Isaiah 53:10 (KJV)
[PHOTO SOURCE: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/516577019752817344/]
DEFENDING THE DEATH PENALTY:
When I watched Mel Gibson’s film, ‘The Passion of the Christ’, I began to realize that the trials and crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the two thieves justify the death penalty in both word and deed. There are several examples that prove it which I will began writing about. Professor Michael Michael Pakaluk was once quotes in his writing, ‘The Death Penalty: An Opposing Viewpoints Series Book, Greenhaven Press, (hereafter TDP:OVS), 1991’:
"If no crime deserves the death penalty, then it is hard to see why it was fitting that Christ be put to death for our sins and crucified among thieves. St. Thomas Aquinas quotes a gloss of St. Jerome on Matthew 27: ‘As Christ became accursed of the cross for us, for our salvation He was crucified as a guilty one among the guilty.’ That Christ be put to death as a guilty person, presupposes that death is a fitting punishment for those who are guilty."
In Matthew 26 verse 52 (NKJV), Jesus told Peter, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
In this case, Jesus has saved Peter’s life from being charged with murder. He healed the ear of the servant but warned Peter that if he had killed somebody, he would pay with his life too.
Jesus did not do anything wrong to be put to death, even the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate found no fault in him. In John 19 verse 10 to 11 (NKJV):
Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”
Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
This means that Christ accepted Pilate as the judicial authority, in punishing evildoers. In this case, Christ went through the trial to save us from our sins. Despite the painful death and sufferings he had to put up with, he did it to crush Satan’s works. Christians and Roman Catholics should not mix up the love and justice of God, Christ taught us to love and forgive our enemies but he respected the judicial authorities he had ordained on this earth to smite evildoers.
Barabbas was supposed to be the one to be crucified and not Jesus, he deserved to die for being a murderer. It was an injustice to reprieve a murderer. However, this was God’s plan to set Barabbas free, and let the Son of Man die in his place.
The impenitent thief was a perfect example that if a criminal does not repent on the face of death, it denounces the myth that he will ever repent even given life imprisonment. It is true that the worst of the worst criminals are beyond any rehabilitation. As Saint Thomas Aquinas once wrote in Summa Contra Gentiles Book III Chapter 146:
The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgment that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.The argument that evildoers should be allowed to live in the hope that they might be redeemed was rejected by Aquinas as frivolous. If they would not repent in the face of death, it was unreasonable to assume they would ever repent. "How many people are we to allow to be murdered while waiting for the repentance of the wrongdoer?", he asked, rhetorically. Using the death penalty for revenge, or retribution is a violation of natural moral law.
I was touched by the penitent thief who repented and acknowledged his sins in front of Christ, he reminded me of Ted Bundy’s interview with Dr. James Dobson. Saint Thomas Aquinas once said:
"...a secondary measure of the love of God may be said to appear. for capital punishment provides the murderer with incentive to repentance which the ordinary man does not have, that is a definite date on which he is to meet his God. It is as if God thus providentially granted him a special inducement to repentance out of consideration of the enormity of his crime...the law grants to the condemned an opportunity which he did not grant to his victim, the opportunity to prepare to meet his God. Even divine justice here may be said to be tempered with mercy."
Despite the penitent thief repenting of his sins, Jesus told him in Luke 23 verse 43 that the he will be with him in paradise. Jesus did not tell him to get off the cross and live his life again; moreover, the criminal had to be punished but was forgiven and gone to a better place. The late Chuck Colson was quoted in his article, ‘Capital Punishment: A Personal Statement’:
"While the thief on the cross found pardon in the sight of God - ‘Today you will be with Me in Paradise’ - that pardon did not extend to eliminating the consequences of his crime - ‘We are being justly punished, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds.’ (Luke 23:39-43)". Neither God nor Jesus nor the Holy Spirit nor the prophets nor the apostles ever spoke out against the civil authorities’ use of executions in deserving cases - not even at the very time of Jesus’ own execution when He pardoned the sins of the thief, who was being crucified alongside Him. Indeed, quite the opposite. Their biblical support for capital punishment is consistent and overwhelming. Furthermore, Jesus never confuses the requirements of civil justice with those of either eternal justice or personal relations.
To those Anti-Death Penalty Christians who keep quoting Jesus as a victim of the death penalty to say capital punishment is wrong, they are ignoring the fact that Barabbas and the two thieves deserved to be put to death by judicial authority. The two thieves played with their lives and Barabbas was reprieved. If there was no death penalty, Jesus Christ would not have died for our sins when he did no wrong, but for his love, he paid for our sins with his blood.
Rather than use our savior, Jesus Christ as a victim of the death penalty, I rather those Christians use Satan as a defendant on capital trials. Satan the devil is the one that must be put to death and when Christ returns to earth, he will be our ultimate judge and Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.