Sunday, November 29, 2009

How Wicked Were the Jews that Demanded Christ’s Crucifixion?

I’m certain I am not the only one who has contemplated the depth of hatred and wickedness that consumed the souls of the Jewish leaders who demanded that the Romans crucify Jesus of Nazareth. The Bible and secular accounts, such as Josephus, teach us that several chief members of the Sadducees and Pharisees witnessed many miraculous events at the hand of Jesus on numerous occasions. Blind men received their sight, people were raised from the dead, the lame walked, the leprous were cleansed, and the maimed healed - all in the presence of these leaders. It always baffled me how the Jewish leaders could witness such marvelous works, and yet harbor such hatred against the Savior.

From the Pearl of Great Price, we learn that the Lord has created “worlds without number” (Moses 1:33). “And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations” (Moses 7:30). And yet, of this Earth the Lord exclaimed to Enoch: “[A]mong all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren” (Moses 7:36) (emphasis added). In other words, our Earth has known greater wickedness than can be found among any of the billions of God’s creations; sadly, our Earth stands preeminent in wickedness, especially the people of Enoch’s day.

So, do the Jewish leaders in Christ’s day outrank those individuals in Enoch’s day on the ole’ wickedness meter? Yes, in fact they do.

Jacob, Nephi’s brother, teaches that “it must needs be expedient that Christ…should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God” (2 Nephi 10:3) (emphasis added). Think of the enormity of this statement! It is a sad distinction to be identified as the most wicked of nations on an Earth that had been identified as the most wicked of all God’s creations.

Could that wickedness ever be replicated today?

Of the persecutors of the Latter-day Church, Joseph Smith commented that “[t]his generation is as corrupt as the generation of the Jews that crucified Christ; and if He were here to-day, and should preach the same doctrine He did then, they would put Him to death” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 328). Thus, there seems to be a common link between the detractors in Christ’s day to those of the Prophet’s day.

Have you ever wondered how you would have reacted to Christ’s message if you were living at the time? What of the words and teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith? Both these men taught seemingly strange doctrines that could only make sense with the eye of faith. I often wonder if I would have been one to discount their message as outlandish and peculiar.

I take heart in this statement by Bruce R. McConkie:

If you believe the words of Joseph Smith, you would have believed what Jesus and the ancients said. If you reject Joseph Smith and his message, you would have rejected Peter and Paul and their message. If you accept the prophets whom the Lord sends in your day, you also accept that Lord who sent them. If you reject the restored gospel and find fault with the plan of salvation taught by those whom God hath sent in these last days, you would have rejected those same teachings as they fell from the lips of the prophets and Apostles of old” (Conference Report, October 1981, p.69) (emphasis added).

16 comments:

Skyler said...

Very interesting thoughts. It's certainly a heavy condemnation on those that fight against the Church these days. Thanks!

VeritasLiberat said...

Well, no other nation on earth _could_ crucify their god, because there was only one nation that was worshipping the real God. You can't crucify something that doesn't exist (Odin, Jupiter, the Flying Spaghetti Monster) -- only something that does. So it seems like absolute wickedness is correlated with knowledge of the truth. The more truth you know, the more wicked you have the potential to be, because then you're accountable for what you did.

Skyler said...

That's a really good point, VeritasLiberat. Wickedness and sin are relative to the laws that we've received, as per 2 Nephi 9:25 and Romans 4:15. And they had Christ in their midsts, so they certainly received the law, and a much more concentrated form of it.

Anonymous said...

I guess it would help if we knew that the Bible was translated correctly or that no later writers changed the scriptures for political or other purposes.

Jeremy said...

Anon, I'm not sure where you stand on the LDS canon, but I have a testimony of its veracity. While I share your view with respect the to the Bible, both the PofGP and BofM are bona fide scriptural accounts given through the Lord's anointed.

That said, the only uncertainty in my mind can lie in HOW we interpret those scriptures.

DavidH said...

I think 2 Nephi 10:3 may be a matter of scriptural hyperbole--like Jesus' saying that there was no prophet greater than John the Baptist, or John Taylor saying only Jesus was greater than Joseph Smith. To my knowledge, there is no hierarchical ranking of goodness or greatness in an eternal sense. Those who attain exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom are not "given a number" when they enter the door based on a AP or USA Today poll, nor is there grading on a curve.

On the flipside, examples of hyperbole on iniquity include 3 Ne. 9:9 and Mormon 4:12. See http://www.josephsmith.com/content/Joseph_Smith_Book_of_Mormon/Mormon4.htm

Nate said...

David H. -- While I may agree that there may be no hierarchical ranking of those exalted in the Celestial Kingdom, I would imagine that there is a wickedness ranking of some sort. Why else would there be a kingdom likened in number and brightness of the stars of heaven.

Although, I also agree that there is scriptural hyperbole...

What I always wondered is why is the earth worse? Is it a function of the type of spirits being sent here (did we get the best and worst...or just worst), is it the fact that satan was cast down to here, etc.?

Jeremy said...

Nate, I have pondered those same questions. I can only speculate that our Father had to have a place where the Atonement could be perfectly effectuated. In my view, he may have looked at the cross-section of his children and thereby determined to send a greater proportion of "slow" spirits to this orb (as well as an equal proporion of over-acheivers) who would be likely to reject Christ with wrath.

I know it's weak, but I honestly don't know the answer.

However, in response to your comment about Satan being cast down to our earth, I have a slightly different interpretation that I would like to hear your thoughts on.

We learn about Lucifer's fall principally from Moses' account in the PofGP. However, Moses was specifically told that "only an account of THIS EARTH, and the inhabitants thereof give I unto you" (Moses 1:35). The Lord then proceeds to discuss the creation of THIS EARTH and an account of "a" premortal council. Because Moses was to learn ONLY of our Earth, could the pre-mortal council discussed in Moses 4 be a special council only for our earth? If that is the case, would there have been other Councils for God's other Earths? And if other Councils, would there have been other Adversaries (i.e., other Satans specifically for other worlds)?

We know that Christ was crucified on this Earth, out of all the other worlds created by God. But does that necessarily mean that there could only be one Satan for all of God's creations? The rebellious 1/3 were cast to THIS EARTH, not other worlds, right?Wouldn't the other worlds need "opposition in all things" also, thereby necessitating an Adversary for their world? Or does Satan's influence transcend the space-time continuum?

Thoughts? This may be post-worth in and of itself...

Nate said...

That could be a post itself...

Are you sure the whole 1/3 are on this earth...aren't the other 2/3's on other worlds as well as this one? I don't know that the reading of Moses's account re: "this earth" can be construed that narrow. I would imagine that of the 1/3, there were leaders (or worse spirits) that have some form of role on the other planets. Although this is all pure speculation (and not very thought out).

Jeremy said...

Nate, while I don't have the exact quotes before me here, Brigham Young has indicated that when Satan and the 1/3 host of heaven were cast down to this earth. There is no indication that they were cast to other earths besides ours.

I'd have to mull it over before I write anything, but there is certainly a question as to where the 1/3 were literally (not just figuratively) cast to.

Anonymous said...

For a perspective on how Jews look at this, I recommend "God, Jews and History" by Max Dimont.

linda said...

Don't forget that the scripture says one third part. Not necessarily three equal part.
D&C 29:36

Jeremy said...

Interesting note, Linda. I'd never noticed that wording before. What is your take on it?

I am under the impression that this simply means 1/3 of the hosts of heaven, not just a part of a 1/3. A quick search of LDS.org under "one third of the hosts of heaven" uncovers several quotes by general authorities from conference talks and magazines indicating the same. I would be interested to see where there is an alternative interpretation.

Thanks for the comment.

Aaron said...

Here is another thought: it is possible they crucified Jesus because they saw him as a threat to the Roman empire.

We know the Romans didn't answer to the Jews so why would they execute him just to satisfy Jewish demands? Also, on the plaque above the cross it said "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews." Many scholars now believe he was crucified because the Romans saw Jesus as one aspiring to be King.

Z & P said...

Idk maybe I'm soft hearted but even Christ say (sorry I'm paraphrasing here don't have the scriptures in front of me ) "Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do" or something to that effect.
Given the Pharisees and many other Jewish scholars might have ulterior motives to want to kill Jesus Christ but I truly believe that had they known, truly known that Jesus was The Savior that many prophets had prophesied about not one single Jew would have allowed for His blood to be shed.
Which will put us in a conundrum, since Jesus Christ had to willingly laid down his life in order to conquer death.

I recently read The living Christ by Cleon Skousen and he addresses this issue (great read btw) Once again I don't have the book in front of me to give exact quotes to back my claims. But he explains that in the Jewish scriptures many prophesies concerning the FIRST arrival of The Messiah were taken out, leaving mostly if not only prophesies concerning The Second coming. The Jewish ppl were taught that when the messiah came He will set up His ruled that could never be taken down, they were also taught to watch out for fake messiahs that will perform miracles, so in essence they were taught to guard against ppl like Jesus Christ even His discipline didn't fully understood what His mission was during his first coming, they were expecting him to take down the romans and establish His rule.

If you want the full explanation along with foot notes and scriptures to back up the claims pick up a copy of this book and read it.
So in answer to your question, Not I do not think they were wicked. If anything else The wicked ones were the ones that removed part of the scriptures that allowed the Jewish ppl to remain in ignorance when it came to the first coming of The Messiah.
(But Yet again they might not be wicked, The Lord might have been doing His will through them)

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