Since the day of His crucifixion and death, the story of Jesus on that fateful day has been the subject of interpretation and debate; more precisely, the questions of who was responsible for the death of Jesus, why he had to die, and the significance of his death for the church and for humanity have been asked for the past two millennia since the actual event. In this essay, these questions will be briefly answered with the help of secondary writings on the Gospel of Matthew, as well as the Gospel itself.
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Regarding responsibility for the death of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew itself, he uses the general term of “Jews” as those who killed Jesus; however, secondary modern writings suggest that the use of the term “Jews” was a generality to describe those who did not believe Jesus to be the Messiah, and the executioners may not have been Jewish at all, but the Jewish designation has been used to proliferate anti-Semitism for thousands of years (Brown, 1997). Of course there are countless sources that tell of Jesus’ persecution by Roman guards and the like, but truth be told, there is no concrete proof of exactly who is responsible for Jesus’ death.
For all of the murky information about who is responsible for Jesus’ death, there is little question of why he had to die and its significance for the church and humanity. While much of Matthew seems to be an historic account of Jesus’ death, this Gospel also tells of the importance of Jesus’ death for the freedom of humanity from death and sin, especially in Chapter 22. Beyond the Biblical, secondary literature also reinforces that Jesus had to die as part of God’s plan for the salvation of humanity (Brown, 1997). In closing, perhaps the most important point to be made in answering these questions is that there is no substitute for the power of faith.
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