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The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ

Written by Rev. Barkat Ullah, Fellow of Royal Asiatic Society of London
Translated from Urdu to English by
Sohail Barket Morris
Oct. 17, 2010


That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";-
but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them,
and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge,
but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not

Description: sura_4_156-159

The nails being pounded into Jesus' handsThe Crucifixion of Jesus is not only the pivotal point mentioned in the gospels, but it is mentioned in the world histories. Roman historians mentioned in their archives, who ordered the Crucifixion, the Jews, who instigated, and plotted have also mentioned it. Thus, the Crucifixion has become a fact, so much so that, the event could be proven from the external historical resources if there had been no gospel records, and nobody could deny it. As it is mentioned in the gospels, because of this, now there are two witness/records, both contemporary and eyewitness, which can not be discredited by anyone. There are two types of incidents/events, which can be distinguished as spiritual and earthly. Some contains both elements. The Crucifixion of the Lord is one of those kinds. It is not just any religious idea, upon which our secular history may remain quite, which is independent of any other substantive record, and the critics of the Christianity, in fact not only try to disparage or discredit secular history, but try to undermine the historical gospels.

We aim to provide our honourable readers the evidence from both sides, religious and secular records and will prove that the Crucifixion is not an imaginary or fabricated story, instead, the impression of this event is so deep that, it had divided history into two parts, BC and AD.

The proceedings of the case of Jesus Christ were heard in two different types of courts. And the both courts issued the penalty of death. First of all our Lord was presented before the Sanhedrin, a Jewish court, whereupon, the High Priest of the time, gave orders for his death, as the judge. Likewise, the same judge became the accuser before the Roman Prefect who gave the orders of crucifixion.

In this article, we will critically analyse the proceedings of the Jewish court according to Jewish Law, so that we may know that if the Son of Allah had been treated fairly or the High Priest, disparaged his own Holy Jewish Law by accusing Jesus and sentenced him to death. When we ponder upon the passion narrative and the crucifixion, then it is clarified to us that the credibility of the narrative is undoubtedly, flawless. For that reason, Lord Shire states, “any one specially every judge,(who come across previous records and testimonies), realizes in no times that although the details given in the gospels vary and every gospel writer has a unique way of writing, and reflects their individuality in relation to different angels and point of views  the gospel writers have presented. But, the death on the Cross is proven by all means and no body can argue the creditability of the Word.

The Court proceedings of the Son of God are mentioned in simple and easily understandable way, without any kind of embellishment or literary device. It is beyond any additional edition or omission. For this reason, it always leaves an unforgettable impression on human mind. These simple words formed such an impression that one can not stay untouched.  The Jewish Law was bound to severity and was older than the Roman law, especially on the question of life or death; the Jewish law used to reserve such obligations which could easily make clear the intensity of the matter.   

According to the Jewish law every measure was used to be taken precisely so that the guilty party may not be charged or treated wrongfully. It signifies the fact that the Jewish law used to hear the proceedings with, taken into account the human life as the most precious gift, very carefully. According to the Jewish law the death sentence was to be stoned the guilty. Sometimes, he was to be drowned or be hanged up or to be decapitated. But the Crucifixion was un-Jewish.

     The punishment was to be carried out far from the court, “out of the tent, yet, even at the time of death penalty, every precaution was to be taken into account to save a life. For example in Mishnah it is written, “there will one man on guard at the door of the court with a piece of cloth in his hand, and the other one on the horse, able to see wavering of the sign, could rush to save an innocent, if someone may prove his innocence, and bring him from the place of execution.

There is no doubt, that the Sanhedrin (which is called supreme council in the NT) had authority to arrest the Ibn Allah (Son of God) in the garden of Gethsemane, this council was general council of the Jews and was consisted upon 71 members. The general council had an organizing body which was consisted upon 23 persons. Although, Judea was a Roman province, the Caesar, showed great wisdom by extending religious freedom. Caiaphas was the president of the general council; the council was consisted upon both Pharisees and Sadducees. Their legal actions were accord with the Jewish Shari’a and Jewish Tradition. The Jewish Shari’a was available in the Old Testament.   And the Jewish tradition was accumulated in the Talmud. The Central part of the Talmud is called Mishnah. From which we have quoted a law, mentioned above. It is evident that in the times of Jesus, a Jew’s life was bound to obey the Jewish traditions.

Ibn Allah was arrested without any resistance because of one of his disciple.  Member of the general council were also involved in this conspiracy. But they were to hear the proceedings, so by doing so they disparaged their own law. Apart from becoming a part of the conspiracy, they never hesitated to take the bribe of 30 shekels. And because of their actions they, allegedly abrogated the divine law and Jewish tradition.

Had the petition been submitted against the decision, Jesus would have been rescued. But the general council was not responsible to report to any higher council, it was itself the Supreme Council, add to it, its decisions could not be challenged.  Because of the nature of the trial of Jesus Christ was so serious, it was to be done in appropriate manner, in accord with the divine law and Jewish tradition.

As far as the trial of Jesus Christ was concerned, it supposedly needed more attention, since Jesus was left alone; all of his followers fled the scene and left him alone, scared of inevitable death. Add to it, in general, everyone deep in inside were ignited, whether an aristocrat or a common man. For that reason, dire situation demands that they Sanhedrin was to take additional care of the trial of Jesus.

On the trial of Ibn Allah, the General Council contemptuously disparaged and uprooted the divine law and Jewish tradition from the beginning till end. The members of the Council wanted to finish the job as soon as possible. For that reason, they willingly, knowingly, threw behind all the measures had to be taken in accord with their tradition. Against their tradition, they started the proceeding in the night, and on the same night they pronounced their verdict. It was unlawful to hold any trial in the night and yet finished the proceedings at the same time, on the contrary, if any trial started in the morning and got prolonged was to be postponed until next morning. On this matter, according to Mishnah, “all the trial would be maintained and to be proceeded in the morning, but decisions could be made after the Sun set, yet the trials on which someone’s life is at stake must be dealt in the day. And if the accused is found innocent could be released on the spot, or in case of proven guilty, the trial must be remained open till next day.  The General Council left no card unturned, and misused their own law in every manner to get rid of Jesus. They arrested him on Thursday night, the meeting of the General Council was called on the same night, and the proceeding of the trial started the same night, and was pronounced guilty under the darkness of the same night.

Thus, as far as the Jewish tradition is concerned, they did not put Jesus to death, in fact, they tore apart their own tradition, for this reason, it’s not Jesus Christ who was guilty but the judges who pronounced their verdict.

The question which arises here is, what on earth caused so much panic that forced the judicial council to hurry that they never felt obliged to break their own tradition? We find no other reason than the nature of the human emotions which goes up and down like mercury. Just few days back the same people shouted Hallelujah in a procession before him, and now they had become thirsty for his blood. The judges who gave him death sentence, did not want to lose the chance to get rid of him, lest, his teaching of virtue, compassion and the loving deeds might not popped up again in the minds of the common men, and they turned back to him.  Thus, they made haste to seal his fate, without any regards for their divine law and ancient tradition.

After Jesus was arrested, and the president of the council and the members were finally assembled, the proceeding of the trial started. As soon the proceeding started, they had to face a difficult situation they never anticipated, what reasons they had to carry out the trial? There is not doubt that according to the Jewish law, the trial starts with the account of two eyewitnesses, and it was their job to assure the council that the case can be tried. It was eyewitness’ account which initiated the trial. And the proceedings of the trial could not be started until or unless the court acquired the account of the eyewitness. And under the obligation of the law, in the absence of the eyewitness of account the accused was considered as an innocent.

The court called in the eyewitness, and addressed to them that, “ you, eyewitness, remember if you are transgressing the trial about someone’s life and death, then you and your blood line will be responsible for this blood. For, Adam was created alone, so that you many know that, if any Israelite destroys a life in his nation, then according to the Holy book, destroys the whole world. And if he saves one life in the Israel, he saves the whole world”.

According to the Jewish law, no one can be accused until, the judge is provided with a collaborated account of two eye witness. But on the trial of Ibn Allah, the account of the eye witness lake the element of collaboration, it was contradictory. And it had no basis which can be used to hold a trail for the death penalty.  The focal point of the accounts produced, was that, Jesus prophesied about the destruction of the temple, the civil unrest was the only trial which could be result in on the basis of the details eyewitness’ came up with, not such a trial for death sentence. Thus, from the beginning, Ibn Allah was not only convicted but also an innocent.

When the high priest and the judges of the supreme council saw all of this, and failure of their plot, then they uprooted other clauses of their law, to trap Ibn Allah by hook or crook, in doing so they broke one of their laws once again, to carry on the proceedings. To find a way to accuse Ibn Allah for a death penalty, Caiaphas started his interrogation by asking questions, so that he (Caiaphas) may twist Ibn Allah’s answers, which was once again was, in apposition to their own law. The proceedings could never be started without the eyewitness account, yet the judges of the court wanted to seal his fate once for all, “It was better that one man should die for all the people”. (John 18:12)

According to John 18:19, they started their interrogation, they questioned him to use Ibn Allah’ any statement as the basis for the trial. But Jesus knew their plot and their attempt to twist the Jewish law, he did not reply to their queries. (Mark 14:60-61)

Your enemies were so determined that they kept on asking questions for all eternity (John 18:19), then Ibn Allah broke his silence, and whatever you said, was in the line with Jewish law and on the same time justifiable, so you said, “I have always spoken publicly to everyone; all my teaching was done in the synagogues and in the Temple, where all the people come together. I have never said anything in secret. Why, then do you question me? Question the people who heard me. Ask them what I told them – they know what I said.” (John 18:20), by doing so, Ibn Allah appealed in accord with Jewish law. The judges and the members of the Council got offended so much so that, they slapped his face in front of the judges in the Court, against their tradition. Once again, in response to this attack, Jesus tried to find refuge under the law, and appealed for justice by uttering, “If I have said anything wrong, tell everyone here what it was. But if I am right in what I have said, why do you hit me?” (John 18:23).

Realizing that nothing is really happening, and they are unable to start the proceedings, then, the president of the council, the high priest played another trick at his disposal and again the act was contrary to their law. They used to boast about one of their laws according to which if someone who professed his crime can not be put to death. The Jewish law was very clear about that point, “during a trial, a word of mouth delivered by the guilty, can never be used against him”.  Now, the high priest made up his mind to invoke Ibn Allah to answer such questions, which could be used against him, he chose to select the questions, Ibn Allah had to answer him at any cost. Thus, so far, the high priest, without any regards for the law, he questioned him again, “In the name of the living God I now put you on oath: tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:63)

Ibn Allah was left without any other choice; it was such a question which could never be left unanswered. He could not deny his mission, he replied and said, “I am”, and you will all see the Son of Man seated on the right of the Almighty and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62), when he realized that the trick worked, the high priest tore his robes and said, “We don’t need any more witnesses! You heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” all the members forgot one of the main principles to conduct a fair trial, “on the trial, the word of mouth can never be used against the guilty person; our Law does not pronounce death on his confession”.

In response to the question raised by the high priest, they replied, we don’t need any witnesses! We ourselves have heard what he said! They all voted against him: he was guilty and should be put to death, because there is only one sentence for blasphemy which is death. The High Priest himself was a Jews, and had expectations for the

Messiah to come, thus his question to another Jew, are you the Messiah, the Son of the Most High?, signifies his intentions that he was not accusing him for promoting any new teaching about the Promised Messiah, instead, in its nature, the question sounds more like as “Are you the one, we are waiting for, the news about whom, mentioned in the scriptures, you answered, “Yes, I am”.