Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Lynching and Crucifixion

On June 3, 2020, Chance the Rapper Tweeted: “Jesus was lynched.” I did not spend a lot of time reading replies, but it appears he got fairly “mixed reviews.” A fellow member called attention to it in a Facebook group, and the statement received mixed reviews there as well (more in favour, it seems).

Perhaps the “shock value” of such a statement will cause us to “stop, look, and listen,” and learn. We can learn from the statement, even though I think Chance the Rapper is technically incorrect. We will find lynching and crucifixion merge and diverge at particular points. First, consider the definitions of “lynch” and “crucifixion.”

  • Lynch, verb (used with object). To put to death, especially by hanging, by mob action and without legal authority.
  • Crucify, verb (used with object). To put to death by nailing or binding the hands and feet to a cross (and in this discussion, specifically the putting to death of Jesus by nailing him to and hanging him on a cross).
Lynching and crucifixion are both methods of execution, though the first is clearly without legal authority to do so – specifically in the U.S. it is without due process, without a trial. Crucifixion was once a preferred method of execution in the Roman Empire, and generally carried out under the authority of Roman officials.[i]


  • Lynching and the crucifixion of Jesus share the element of hanging. Acts 5:30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
  • Lynching and the crucifixion of Jesus share the element of the bloodlust of a mob. Mark 15:14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.
  • Lynching and the crucifixion of Jesus are murderous acts derived from deceitful and desperately wicked hearts. Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

  • A lynching is illegal and unlawful, whether or not the person lynched is innocent or guilty. The crucifixion of Jesus was carried out under legal authority, but the person convicted was innocent. Mark 14:15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.
  • Lynching breaks the laws of state, but Jesus’s crucifixion fulfilled the law of God. Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Romans 3:25 whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God
  • The death of the lynched perpetuates anger, guilt, and sin. The crucifixion of Jesus makes peace by the blood of the cross. Colossians 1:20 and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
By comparing the death of Jesus to other deaths, including lynching, we learn. We hear notes that touch chords in our hearts. Yet, in the end, the death of Jesus Christ the Son of God is unlike any other.

  • It is an offering made by free eternal determination, rather than by forced human intervention. Acts 4:27-28 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. John 10:17-18 I lay down my life...No man taketh it from me...
  • It is the making of a sin offering by one who never sinned. 1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
  • It is the offering of the just in the place of the unjust. 1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God... Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
  • It is a one-time sufficient sacrifice for sin. Hebrews 9:26 ...but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Our sins are many, God’s mercy is more; He’s wash’d and cleans’d us, for this we adore.

As on the cross the Savior hung,
And wept, and bled, and died;
He poured salvation on a wretch,
That languished at His side. (Samuel Stennett)

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride. (Isaac Watts)

[i] Experts differ on the legality of the trial of Jesus. José María Ribas Alba, one of the top modern scholars on Roman law, has concluded from his years of study that the trial of Jesus was perfectly legal [For example, Jesús es condenado a muerte: reflexiones sobre el contexto histórico y jurídico de la Pasión de Cristo (Jesus is sentenced to death. Reflections on the historical and legal context of the Passion of Christ), José María Ribas Alba, Mergablum, 2013]. On the other hand, in The Trial of Christ: From a Legal and Scriptural Viewpoint, David K. Breed argues that many legal errors were made. Many Christian scholars focus on the legality or illegality of the proceedings of the Sandhedrin.

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