In John 19 we’re told that Pilate delivered Jesus over to the chief priests who led him out of the city to the place of crucifixion. If the chief priests were basically in charge at this point, where might they have taken Jesus? The book of Hebrews gives us a hint when it says that Jesus suffered “outside the camp” (13:12), which turns out to be a specific location mentioned in the Old Testament as well as in a variety of second Temple sources. On this episode the hosts will discuss the meaning and significance of Golgotha in our continuing series through the Gospel of John.
Shane Rosenthal: What do you think is John’s purpose in emphasizing this point, that it was the chief priests who led Jesus to his death?
Adriel Sanchez: You think back to the very beginning of the Gospel of John were John the Baptist sees the Lord and he says in John chapter 1 verse 29, “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” That’s who Jesus is. And who sacrifices him? Well, in one sense here, it’s the chief priests. They’re the ones who are delivering him over to death. And so I think that could be part of what John is trying to get here.
Term to Learn
This concept can be defined by the German word Heilsgeschichte, literally meaning “salvation-history.” The term was coined in the eighteenth century and used in the nineteenth century by certain theologians who rejected Schleiermacher’s attempt to rest theology upon religious feeling and emphasized the primacy of the biblical historical revelation. One way that this term is used today is to insist that the total history of revelation and salvation is connected with real events in actual history, of which Christ is both the center and the culmination. From all the variety of the New Testament elements there emerges one picture of the Christ-event from preexistence to parousia. This view does not make the Christian religion dependent upon the vicissitudes of historical research; it is faith in Christ which makes sense of the witness of the biblical records, and faith is essential to the right understanding of their historical content. The stress is upon the acts of God in history.
(Adapted from A Dictionary of Christian Theology, s.v. “Heilsgeschichte.”)