What was the life span in Jesus' time

"The Son of Man must be handed over and crucified" #

A post-Easter contemplation #


Herbert Kohlmaier

From: Thoughts on Faith and Time No. 297/2019

Luke tells that two angels appeared to the women who went to Jesus' tomb and asked them why they were looking for the living with the dead - they should remember what he had already said in Galilee, namely that he would “be crucified must ". (Lk 24: 6-7.) What prompted the evangelists to use the word “must” to describe an inevitable and actually God-willed violent death of Christ? Apparently, he sees the crucifixion as a necessary part of the salvation event, as it was then often viewed as such. Right? So let's think about what would have happened had Jesus not been executed. For example because Pontius Pilate would have released him instead of Barabbas!

You don't need too much imagination to imagine this historical variant. Jesus would probably have continued his preaching despite the warning received with the trial. Perhaps a little more cautious and his disciples would probably have become more careful too. But it would have remained that as a prophet with wonderful talent he would have drawn people under his spell and prompted them to review their lives. A movement within the framework of Judaism would have existed which sought the hoped-for salvation by following the admonitions of Rabbi Yehoshua from Nazareth. But skeptics would also have faced this, especially on the part of the clergy, who would have rejected the presumption of a man to even want to take on the role of the expected messiah.

This situation would have stayed that way for a while. But Jesus would have gradually grown older and weaker, bearing in mind that the general life expectancy at that time barely exceeded 40 years. If this person, guided by tremendous energy, had died in the middle of his existence, possibly from an illness, he would have been mourned and buried. But would his message have stayed alive? At that time there were many preachers who went through the country, they are forgotten. And above all: Would his teaching have spread so much, also accepted by Greeks, Romans and pagans and finally effective worldwide?

Or to put it another way: Would the awakening of an old and frail man from death, namely his spiritual continued existence as credibly perceived by his followers, have triggered such an effect? If his friends and relatives had told people that the deceased had appeared to them, that would have been understood as failing to cope with the painful loss of a loved one and would have been laughed at.

And that brings you very close to the “must” for Lukas. So was there actually such a thing as divine counsel to bring about an overwhelming work of the doing and then the death of Jesus? So wasn't his execution very important to the force of the resurrection message? The crucifixion represented a terrible punishment, it was supposed to humiliate and dishonor up to the destruction of personality in order to also have the desired deterrent effect. In view of this, the resurrection of Jesus takes on its special meaning, namely as a deeply rousing contradiction of God against the injustice suffered by Jesus.

The salvation of a person who has entrusted himself to God unconditionally and with all consequences means an unmistakable signal to all people. God has exalted the one that was wanted to be silenced. He has shown that arbitrariness and violence do not win. He has added something that is deeply affecting and, even in the face of unspeakable misery, gives rise to hope and confidence. Because we can believe that salvation can be expected not only of this but of all people of good will.

If one sees the resurrection in this way, it seems downright absurd to see Jesus' death as a sacrifice and him as the “Lamb of God”, whose battles God should reconcile and eradicate the sins of the world. By raising Jesus to new life with and with him, God has shown himself to be the one of life. As the merciful and lover, but not as someone who wanted to give killing a mystical meaning.

We should ponder whether it is right that crucifixes everywhere on the walls of churches and houses depict the terrible torture of Jesus. As if we wanted to correct God by omitting the final act with the happy ending when depicting the Easter event. Admittedly, the resurrection of Christ is more difficult to depict, sometimes that happens and unfortunately then seems rather kitschy. But worshiping the cross as an act of faith? To regard an instrument of torture as sacred means a very questionable fixation on that suffering, which, in the sense of the loving father, it is also our task to overcome. And with the resurrection of Jesus from death, God has given us miraculous courage to cope with it.