The Word, not the Blood
Professor of Christian Theology at the University of Ilorin, Pius Oyeniran Abioje, threw what to Christendom must be regarded as a bombshell. Delivering the 167th inaugural lecture of the university, Prof. Abioje dismissed the age-long belief that the Lord Jesus Christ died to save the world. He said the Lord Jesus was killed by haters of truth as a victim of high-level conspiracy. In his words: “The conspiracy that killed Jesus Christ came from the milieu of the chief priest and the political elite.
“Regrettably, the interpretation by many Christians is that God wanted Jesus to die so as to save the world. Yet, the world continues to persecute innocent critical prophets. Why cannot Christians emphasize that Jesus was killed by haters of truth, the religio-political powers that be, particularly since the world is still seeking redemption?”
Professor Abioje said critical prophets should anticipate opposition and conspiracy from unexpected quarters. His lecture was titled: “Christian Prophets and other prophets in Nigeria.” The Vanguard on Sunday aptly captioned its report of the inaugural lecture as ‘Easter shocker: Jesus did not die to save the world—Prof. Abioje.’ With this statement coming from someone who teaches Christian Theology in a university and who can rightly be described as an authority, his conclusion must undoubtedly have sent shock waves beyond the Nigerian frontiers. And I want to believe that Professor Abioje must have opened a Pandora’s box on this all-important subject.
For more than 2,000 years that the Lord departed this world all kinds of things have been written about Him. The aspect of the purpose of His Mission would appear long-settled, and that is that the Lord Jesus Christ died to save the world. From childhood it has been drummed into us that by His stripes we are saved. The hymn book ingrains it in us, “We are washed in the blood of the Lamb.” And there is drumming and there is dancing and there is rejoicing: He has taken away our sins. We heard this ad infinitum only last Sunday. The old – men and women – say it. The young say it. However, in our closets, there is some uneasiness in our souls; doubts arise in the minds of anyone who can think just a little. Not about Him as Saviour and Redeemer, but why the Almighty Father would sent His begotten Son to be subjected to humiliation and gruesome manner of death Christ went through. Where there are doubts, there can be no conviction.
Since this notion has gone on for over 2,000 years that Christ was subjected to the most agonizing death, He was mercilessly crucified – come to think of it, an innocent Man, the Author of Mercy, the Prince of Peace and the Exemplar of Compassion – that notion can only be anchored at the level of belief and not conviction. For those who can think, and it is not for nothing we are endowed by the Creator with the faculty for thinking, conviction arises from thinking until thinking hurts, as they say, that is, from weighing and examining! Take, for example, the Lord was brutally murdered in order to take away our sins, an innocent man about whom everyone testifies was without stain, Who was perfect, totally blameless and sinless and Who had come from a Realm there is no sin. So, to where did He take and deposit the sins? To the purest and perfect Realm that is His Throne? To do what with it there? Until we human beings get to the point of unassailable truth it is natural we do not allow a matter to rest, something urges us on. We are unceasingly seeking to get to the bottom of a matter for which truth is the destination, for Truth is absolute, not relative; it is the degree of it we individually absorb consistent with our unfolded individual abilities that is relative. The Almighty Father is the Truth, the Reality, Life Itself and the Lord Jesus Christ, being A Part of Him, is the Truth. He kept telling the world, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” As it is revealed in higher knowledge, Sonship of Christ means Part.
Where am I coming from? It may be asked. I am coming from the firm recognition of the Trinity of God—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. In the higher knowledge spreading on earth today, we learn that the Son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit being Parts of the Father can be likened to two hands of a man which he can swing independently, yet as parts of the whole. In other words, Christ on the right-hand side can act independently, yet as A Part of the Father. In other words, the Father is in Him and He is in the Father as He repeatedly asserted. Christ is the Love of God. When God acts in love it is through and in Jesus Christ. When God acts in Justice it is through and in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Will and executive Justice of God. The Holy Spirit is in charge of the Laws; He is the Law which is why the Lord Christ said, if you offend the Father, if you offend the Son, there could be forgiveness. But if you offend the Holy Spirit there can never be forgiveness. The laws are immutable, they are inflexible, and coming from the Holy Spirit Who is also Life, being A Part of the Father, they are living and self-acting.
Every activity including thoughts of a man is a seed planted in the soil of life. The laws ensure that the seed goes through maturation process and the sower is tied to his sowing through radiation threads which serve as channels for his harvesting of the fruits when they are ripe. The threads are accurately spun. There are chains of helpers working in matchless and incorruptible loyalty to ensure that it is unquestionable justice for everyone that he reaps what he has sown, and many times over. Forgiveness thus lies in atonement, in the sower changing before the fruits are ripe. The change shifts the sower from his original position and puts him in a different environment, correspondingly with change in radiation. He is hit by the degree of change or not hit at all if he has completely changed. But the Laws, the activities of the Holy Spirit, ensure that the fruits of the sowing are returned to the sower. Because of the change, however, the returning fruits are not able to find anchorage and they slide off. That is when as it is said our linen is washed clean, and we are free and forgiven through the change for the better. We sow through our thoughts, speeches and physical actions. If they are base and depraved, we are dragged down through the instrumentality of the Law of Spiritual Gravitation. If the activities are good and noble through the same Law, we are raised up.
It is therefore incongruous that God Who is Justice and the Holy Spirit Who is executive Justice will allow One, Jesus Who is Love for that matter and is sinless, to be executed in place of the sinners, and in such indescribable brutality, nailed to the wooden cross like a common criminal. The pronouncement of one of the two criminals executed with Him is instructive. Rebuking the other criminal who was mocking the Lord, he said; “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you get to your kingdom.”’
I am convinced that Jesus Christ is Lord. That He is the Redeemer and Saviour. However, salvation and redemption lie in the Word of Truth He brought to mankind at great costs. In other words, Christ’s Mission lies in the Word. He brought teachings to show mankind the path we must follow to be free from our enchainment, the entanglement of sins. He shows the way, but mankind are to walk on the path themselves. Moses and other Teachers of mankind as well as the Prophets had been sent to bring enlightenment, but no sooner they left than we human beings formed religions around their teachings. In no time acrimony ensued, there was bitter competition for power and influence that is still in character till this day. In the process distortions crept into the pure teachings they bequeathed to us. It is the same struggle for power that led the scribes, chief priests, Pharisees and Sadducees to plan to exterminate the Lord. Then He the Lord came believing they would hearken to His Teachings. The Lord referred to Teachers and Prophets and then Himself in the parable of the owner of the vineyard and the unfaithful husbandmen. Mark 12:1-9 reads in part:
“A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug out a pit for a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went away.” At harvest time he sent one servant after the other to the farmers to collect some of the fruits from the vineyard. But “they beat some and they killed some. He still had one to send, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, they will respect my son. But those tenant farmers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours! So, they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.” Luke 20: 15 in his own account reports the Lord Jesus as saying, “Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those farmers and give the vineyard to others.”
Luke further says He looked at His hearers and asked, “Then what is the meaning of this scripture? ‘The stone that the builders rejected—this has become the cornerstone.”’ Verse 19 then reports as follows “Then, the scribes and the chief priests looked for a way to get their hands on Him that vey hour, because they knew He had told this parable against them, but they feared the people.’”
There are several pieces of evidence to prove that the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ was deliberate; that it was planned by the Establishment of His time. They devised two broad areas to entrap Him: the spiritual and the politics. They accused Him of heresy, blaspheming, of calling Himself the Son of God. They accused Him of healing on the Sabbath day contrary to the demands of the Torah. He was accused of placing Himself hinderingly between the chief priests and the people. Torah was the unassailable and compulsory guidebook, believed to be Divine revelation to the chosen people of Israel which must form the foundation for their religious, cultural and political life as well as rule of conduct in their whole civil life. Doubts or lack of adherence to it was serious offence, sometimes fetching the alleged offender capital punishment. And the texts of the Torah were to be interpreted only by the scribes. Talmud was the summary of verbal transmissions of the law. The scribes were drawn from the ranks of the Pharisees. The Sadducees consisted of elders, high-ranking men and priests, the conservative class. Sensing that people were losing grip of the law, a group got together under the leadership of a man called Simon ben Schetah to work as shining examples. They went round the country to demonstrate how people should live according to the law. These were, to the Lord, sham-piety. He denounced it all as religious hypocrisy. The Sadducees and Pharisees were in fierce contestation for power. Since only the scribes can interprete the Torah, Jesus Christ was regarded as an interloper. Caiaphas was the chief priest in the Temple in Jerusalem whose primary duty was to serve as a mediator between Jahveh and His people. This was the foul environment in which the Lord lived and worked. Contemptuously they dismissed Him as the son of Mary.
On one occasion as the Gospels report, “As Christ was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day, a woman who had been disabled by an evil spirit for over 18 years—she was bent and could not straighten up at all—was healed. But the leader of the synagogue was indignant.” He was reported to have said there were six working days, whoever was seeking healing should come on any of these days but not on the Sabbath day. The Lord Christ replied, asking, “is there anyone of you who does not untie his ox to lead it to water on the Sabbath day?” There was the healing of a man whose body was swollen with fluid in the house of the leading Pharisees. There was the healing of the man who had been blind from birth. When his sight was restored by the Lord, there was a lot of agitation among the scribes. They questioned him and his parents as well. The priests asked the Lord by whose authority He was doing all these. The Pharisees and scribes complained that tax collectors and sinners were milling round Him. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” And the Lord Jesus gave the parable of the lost sheep and the joy in Heaven; “I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.”
About the most contentious was the raising up of Lazarus from the dead. The Establishment took serious exception to it because it was widely discussed and it aroused great political expectation. Acts of raising people from the dead were supposed to foreshadow the promised Kingdom of the prophesied Messiah, signaling the imminent liberation and triumph of Israel. Coinciding as it did with Passover Festival, if the crowd thronging Jerusalem for it decided to make the Lord King, that was it; the claim of the priestly caste to leadership was finished. To pre-empt that it was imperative they should act fast to get rid of Him. The Commission of enquiry set up then asked Him: “Tell us by what authority doest thou these things.” They wanted to hear the claim of divinity from Him so that on the strength of it they could sentence Him to death. They wanted to know if the baptism carried out by John the Baptist was from Heaven or from men. The Lord declined to answer. Wanting to set Him up against the authority in Rome, they asked if it was right to pay tax and He answered, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what belongs to God.”
The scheming went on and the Lord Jesus asked on many occasions what He had done that they wanted to kill Him. The plotters succeeded when one of the Disciples volunteered to get Him for them. That was Judas Iscariot. He loved money and he could not understand why his Master would not accept monetary gifts he was being given while they were going about not in deserved luxury. Blinkered by his ambition, without the Lord’s knowledge, he entered into negotiations with the Jewish resistance movements. The objective of the movements was to drive away the Romans, their overlord and Christ would be proclaimed King—which He rejected flatly with the saying that His Kingdom was not of this world. When one considers the kicking, the beating, the humiliation the howling mob and then the crucifixion, this could not have been a Divine design —that is design by God Who is Love and Justice—to redeem mankind of their sins. He would know if it was the design of His Father. The ignorant and cruel argument that the ways of God are inscrutable cannot suffice to explain the cruelty and illogicality, for the Most High God is logic personified. His Laws which ensure order, peace in all realms of existence, paradise and all, up to the Divine Realm do not permit of arbitrariness and callousness visited on the Lord of Love.
Some of the critical sections of the law Caiaphas resorted to secure the conviction of the Lord read as follows: He who doubts the Divine origin of Torah will suffer death by burning. He who openly utters the name of Jahveh is a blasphemer and the convicted blasphemer will be stoned. A pseudo-prophet is a renegade preacher who seeks by means of visions, illusions, false oracles, magic, exorcism, hallucinations or general miracles to seduce Israel to apostasy. A pseudo-prophet must be judged by the Great Sanhedrin, and be executed in Jerusalem. The President of the Great Sanhedrin has the right in exceptional cases to pass over any obstructive regulations in order to put a swift and radical end to apostasy…an action according to the needs of the moment. Even the execution of an innocent person can serve in the maintenance of law and order, and the salvation of God’s people. The wife of Pilate governor appointed by the emperor in Rome warned him: “Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.” (Matthew 27: 19.) Pilate was torn between the admonition of his wife and not wanting to offend Rome. In the end he elected the latter.
On the Day of the execution, there was revolt and disgust in the firmament. The elements could not understand, darkness descended at high noon when the weather should have been characteristically bright. The curtain shielding the Holy of Holies was rent in twain. Judas upon returning bribe he was paid committed suicide and was buried far outside the city in the forest where vagabonds and murderers were always buried. Sensing deeply within us that his was an act of betrayal of the highest degree, no one up till this day has named his child Judas. The Lord Himself prayed the most powerful prayer of intercession for His traducers and murderers, and the lukewarm mankind in general: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do! No one forgives what has been done right. We only forgive wrong. And he told some women of Israel who were weeping: Weep not for me, but for yourselves and your children’s children! Divine Love was temporarily defeated and His beneficent Work of Love halted by the hatred of those whom He wished to save. The Son of God was sentenced as a blasphemer, because He neither could nor would deny His Origin, even at the cost of His earth-life, a tragic irony, and the gravest crime that was ever committed. Against One Who brought Holy Peace! In the Roman Empire, crucifixion was not only the most inhuman, but also the most agonizing and dishonourable sentence. Consider it, neither arms nor legs nailed can be moved and the person is made to choke to death! The hanging of the body on the cross caused prolonged death struggle. Let’s face it, is that the way to salvation? In the words of someone who stands in very high knowledge, it was a drama of cosmic dimensions!
Anthony Borga reports in his book titled, More about life in the world unseen thus: “You know Roger, it’s not so very surprising that hundreds of people, when they arrive here and find out the truth, go about like a ‘mighty wind’, and want to go back to earth to shout the truth at last to the folk they left behind them. Some of them actually do go back, but the result is dismal—on both sides.”
I dare say, therefore, the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, brought the Word, not the Blood.
On resurrection, it is a subject for another day.