Friday, November 14, 2014

The Difficulty in Arresting Jesus

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem for the Passover, but he has come early, the first day of the week, and Passover won't begin until Thursday or Friday evening. As it gets closer to Passover, the crowds of Jewish people coming to celebrate will grow. And the danger that Jesus could cause a major uproar or rebellion by publicly claiming to be the Messiah will grow, also. So if one wants to get rid of Jesus, the sooner the better. 
But there is a problem. Just as with modern cities, where the closer to town vacationers want to stay the more expensive the lodgings, so was it also the case in Jerusalem. So most visitors would stay in the outlying towns at night and come to the city during the day. Jesus and his disciples, along with the crowd of Galilean Jews, did likewise, with many of them staying in Bethany, about two miles away. 
Thus, from morning to evening Jesus will be surrounded by a large group of Galilean Jews with whom he is very popular. And the more he teaches and heals people, the more his popularity will grow with Judean Jews and even native Jerusalemites. To try to arrest him during the day is just asking for trouble. And at night, he is staying two miles from the city, much too risky for the Temple guards to pull off a secret night arrest successfully. 
Another opiton would just be to inform the Romans that Jesus is a dangerous insurgent who must be done away with. But this might bring the same result - a large, bloody riot. 
At this point the ruling class in Jerusalem, the priests, have to hope that somehow they will find a way to isolate Jesus from the crowd.


Jon Garvey said...

Bilbo, I'm reading John's gospel at present, and note that on several occasions the explanation it (and once, the Lord himself) gives is that "his time had not yet come". So the canonical emphasis is on the providential and sovereign timing of God.

Now, no doubt providence in that, as in everything, worked through "comprehensible" means - the soldiers couldn't summon the bottle to arrest him because the way he spoke would have made his arrest look ant-religious, and so on.

But if the question being asked is "the real reason", the danger is in reversing the order, and saying that group dynamics and so on "explain" why the time was not yet right, rather than God's timing explaining why the group dynaics etc panned out thus. That would be the theological equivalent of saying that consciousness is "really" just neurones firing off.

Bilbo said...

The Synoptics speak on the one time Jesus goes up to Jerusalem, and the reason why the rulers don't try to arrest Him being the crowds.

I think things get complicated once we introduce John. Jesus goes to Jerusalem multiple times, and the rulers try to arrest Him on one or two occasions, if I remember correctly, plus try to stone Him once. I would say that the major difference between these earlier occasions and the final one, is that Jesus is not surrounded by a large crowd of Galilean Jews on the earlier occasions. Nor has He publicly acknowledged or proclaimed Messiahship. The opposition to Him seems to be mainly theological, not political. So in these earlier occasions, the opposition fails to either arrest Him or stone Him, because His "time had not yet come."

The opposition only succeeds the last time, because Jesus makes Himself available at the time that He chooses.