Killing Jesus

Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly
Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly

This book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is the perfect companion book to Bible Study Fellowship’s study of Matthew.

In Killing Jesus, we follow the life and times of Jesus, complete with historical perspective that puts us back in Jesus’ time.  Bill O’Reilly makes it clear this is not a religious book but a historical book.  Therefore, the term Christ and Messiah are never applied to Jesus as it is left up to the reader to decide that.

However, the Bible is quoted quite frequently and it follows our study so far to the T.  From the birth of Jesus to the temple scene at age 12 to John the Baptist and Jesus’ baptizing, it’s all there.

In explaining why Jesus stayed behind at the temple, worrying his parents, O’Reilly says this:  “The need to dig deeper into the meaning of God overwhelms every other consideration.”

Wow.  If only that were true for us all.

This book has some of the best maps I have ever seen of Jerusalem and Judea, Samaria, and Galilee.  MANY MAPS (and you all know I’m a map person).  The map of the Jewish temple where Jesus stays to listen to the Jewish scholars is unparalleled.

Pictures of Roman emperors and famous paintings of Jesus enhance this book to give us a complete visual.

The information on Roman rulers is awesome and the cruelty of the Roman Empire is laid out vividly so the reader can picture just how violent first century AD truly was.

Chapter 7 is on Tiberius, the Roman ruler after Augustus, where we learn the reason behind his cruelty:  he is forced to divorce the true love of his life in favor of a political marriage.  After this, he degenerates into debauchery, prostitution, and a penchant for killing that truly begins the slow decay of the once great Roman civilization.

Bill mentions how you could hear Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian, and Hebrew all in Jerusalem.  That would have been cool to hear!

I also like how on P.222 Bill writes some, “are willing to believe parts of his (Jesus’s) teaching but they cannot accept the dark side of his message.”  He writes this with regard to the disciples who don’t believe Jesus will die but I saw myself and all of mankind in this quote.  It reminded me of how everyone loves the “Loving God” but ignores the “wrathful God.”

The book goes into detail about what it’s like to be executed on the cross.  It talks about the guards who were commissioned to do this.  It talks about how they pierced his hands in just the right spot so the prisoner would stay on the cross (P. 248).  I’m assuming Romans learned this the hard way–by trial and error.

Furthermore, the book goes into detail about the political dance played by Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin and by Pontius Pilate to have Jesus legally executed.  Fascinating…

This is a historical book.  It is not a religious book.  It’s an attempt to trace Jesus’ life but not say either way if he was the Messiah or not.  Thus, it is secular and meant to present just the facts as much as is known about Jesus’ life.  The rest is for the reader to decide.

This is a book not to be missed, especially if you want to go deeper historically.  Highly recommended!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 6, Day 2: Matthew 5:17-20

Summary of passage:  Jesus says he has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets.  Nothing will disappear from the law until everything is accomplished.  If you break any of these command, you will be called least in the kingdom of heaven but if you practice and teach these commands you will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Questions:

3a)  That you cannot disregard the teachings of the Old Testament just because he is here and fulfilling it.  You still must obey the commandments.  (Reflects my post HERE again, doesn’t it?).  Jesus did not come to negate or destroy the word of God He had given to His people and the prophets.  He came to fulfill it.  Thus, through fulfilling it, the old laws had to be re-interpreted.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same as Jesus’.  The Old Testament exists for our knowledge; so we learn from our mistakes.  It records the history of God’s people (our history) and gives us laws to follow.

c)  God.  The New Testament.  The Holy Spirit.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It is alive always.  Through prayer and study, it becomes ingrained in your heart and mind and propagates in your life.

4a)  The perfect righteousness of Jesus:  Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:20-22).  Romans 10:4 establishes Jesus as the end of the law for those who believe in him.  Old Covenant replaced with New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:11 and Ephesians 2:15).

b)  Sacrifices:  Male without blemish (Leviticus 1:3 and Hebrews 4:15), offered continually (Exodus 29:38-39 and Hebrews 9:28; 10:8-11), to make atonement (Leviticus 1:4 and Hebrews 9:12)

c)  The prophecies of the Old Testament:  Just like we studied, he was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), he was Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 4:6), he performed miracles (Isaiah 35), he suffered for our sins (Isaiah 53), he established his kingdom during Roman times (Daniel 2:44).

Conclusions:  Question 4 was a doozy when we’re told to use the entire Bible.  Unsure what to think about this lesson or what BSF was trying to convey about the Old Testament versus the New Testament.  I’ll be anxious to hear the lecture on this one and read the notes.

I believe the point is this:  Jesus was the only one who could fulfill the Old Testament and all the laws because he was perfect.  Try as the Pharisees might, they were never perfect (Isaiah 64:6) and thus no one could stand before God as righteous.  We had to have Jesus to cleanse us and justify us before we could “enter the kingdom of heaven” and be with God.

And I believe that is Jesus’ point.  Everything in the Old Testament is true and should be obeyed.  Just now, Jesus will fulfill it and change some of the legalistic interpretations.