Why Was Jesus Crucified?According to the gospels, the main charge against Jesus was that he claimed to be the king of the Jews. The Roman soldiers were mocking this idea when they dressed him in a purple robe and pressed a crown of thorns onto his head. This was also the charge written on the sign at the top of the cross.
But the charge was false. The enemies of Jesus had concocted it by twisting the meaning of the old Jewish prophesies about the coming of the Messiah.
According to those prophesies, the Messiah was a great future leader who would appear during a period of extreme desperation and crisis known as the End Times (or Last Days). Assisted by God, he would overthrow all evil oppressors and set up a perfect kingdom on earth, where all the righteous people could live forever in peace and joy.
During the years when Jesus was growing up, many people believed that the End Times had already arrived, and that the Messiah would soon appear. This belief was especially strong in Galilee, the region of Palestine where Jesus lived. And the belief grew even stronger when John the Baptist began proclaiming that all the prophesies about the Messiah would soon be fulfilled.
But those prophesies could be interpreted in different ways. Some scriptures, such as Isaiah 53, depict the Messiah as a devout non-violent person who will prepare the way for the new kingdom by sacrificing himself to pay for humankind's sins. Other scriptures describe him as a future descendent of King David, and depict the new kingdom as a purified version of David's original kingdom. These references to King David caused many common people to envision the Messiah mainly as a military leader, whose first action would be to organize a revolt against the hated Romans and drive them out of the country.