Jesus was crucified by the Jews because he was talking – talking against their conception of God, saying that he is the only begotten son of God. He was claiming something for which he had no evidence, and he was also claiming that he is the long-awaited messiah. Jews have been waiting for that savior since Moses.
John the Baptist was a charismatic personality. He could have declared himself to be the messiah, to be the only begotten son of God; but he was a humble man. He did not declare anything. On the contrary, he simply said, “I am making the way for the new messiah to come.”
In the Jewish psychology nobody can ever be accepted as the awaited messiah. There is a very fundamental reason for it. Jews have suffered so much.
First they suffered in Egypt in slavery…. Those great pyramids that you see, which even science thinks impossible to make – four thousand years old, such big blocks of stone – it is impossible because powerful enough cranes did not exist, neither do they exist today; and these powerful stones, huge stones, were carried to heights by human beings. Each stone has taken hundreds of lives. Those pyramids were not made by Egyptians, they were made for the Egyptian kings and queens but they were made by Jews under slavery; they carried those stones, with the soldiers on horses whipping them all the time so they don’t feel the burden. And if somebody fell and died, he was immediately replaced by another Jew.
Since those days, Jews have been suffering. Forty years wandering in the desert with Moses to find a place, and finally they settled on Israel – which was called in those days Judea – and immediately it was invaded by the Romans. And the Romans were not less cruel than the Egyptians, perhaps they were more cruel.
John the Baptist was not killed by the Jews, because he never claimed himself to be a messiah, and they cannot accept anybody as a messiah because that is their only hope. And when people are in great suffering, the hope functions as an immense help but it has to be far away – but not too far away that it becomes beyond reach. It has to remain within reach and yet as you move towards it it also goes on receding. It always remains within your reach but you never attain it.
So Jews have been hoping. Their whole hope has been that the messiah will come, that he will redeem them from all suffering.
Now it is impossible for them to accept anyone as a messiah. First, because nobody can redeem anybody from suffering. So it may look to others that walking on water is a miracle, but the Jews were not waiting for a messiah who walks on water. They had a deep hope for a messiah who would take away all their pain and anguish, all their suffering; not someone who raises one man from the grave – that doesn’t matter. These things don’t make sense because their hope is not fulfilled by them.