Friday, April 6, 2012

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 a human 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 perceived wrongdoer, Pilate ordered Christ to be flogged.  When that wasn't enough for the crowd, Pilate ordered Christ to be subjected to the death penalty.

Jesus is the most famous wrongly convicted person of all time. 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 an angry group of activists.

It is well to remember that God allowed his son to be executed by the state, not 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 implicitly recognized that, all other things being equal, misconduct by the state in punishing an innocent person is qualitatively different and more significant than misconduct by a criminal acting on his own.

Just as Christians believe that all of us are ultimately responsible for Christ's death, so, too, all of us have blood on our hands for the treatment of the modern day wrongly accused.