Friday, April 22, 2011

When God allowed his son to experience the greatest injustice possible: a wrongful conviction

Today is Good Friday, the day Christians around the world celebrate what they believe to be the central fact of history: that God sent his only son to live as man in order that he might willingly offer himself as a sacrifice for the transgressions of all of mankind.

In order to vicariously atone for mankind's sins, Christ was subjected to trumped-up charges by the leadership of his faith and brought before the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate, who promptly declared him innocent.  Nevertheless, to appease the angry mob that didn't think enough was being done to punish a blasphemer, Pilate ordered Christ to be flogged.  When that wasn't enough for them, Pilate ordered Christ to be subjected to the death penalty.

Jesus is the most famous wrongly convicted man of all time.
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And there are, of course, lessons here for modern day advocates of the falsely accused. 

Even 2,000 years ago, the state bowed to the pressure of a committed interest group by sacrificing a  wrongly accused man. Jesus was unfortunate but necessary collateral damage in the state's more important, politicized interest of appeasing a group of its inhabitants.

It is well to remember that God allowed his son to be executed by the state, not just murdered by a criminal acting on his own, in order to make a crucial point. Being killed by a criminal would not have manifested the community's rejection of the Messiah. The Divine Plan recognized that, all other things being equal, misconduct by the state in punishing an innocent man is qualitatively different, far more significant, and far worse, than the punishment inflicted on the innocent by a criminal acting on his own. It is one thing for a criminal to do a terrible thing to an individual; it is quite another for the government to do a terrible thing to an individual.

Just as Christians believe that all of us are responsible for Christ's death, so, too, all of us -- without exception -- have blood on our hands for the wrongful treatment of the modern day falsely accused.