I have had suspicions always that Jesus was not saying any revolutionary things, neither was he in revolt against Judaism. But the problem has haunted me: Then why was he crucified? His whole emphasis without exception was, “I am a Jewish prophet, son of a Jewish God” – a prophet, a messiah for which the Jews have been waiting. Their scriptures were telling them: Soon the messiah will come, the last messiah who will save you all. And on your part only a very small thing has to be done: just believe in him.
My suspicions why Jesus was crucified are not just suspicions; they have enough evidence and proof and argument behind them. Socrates was certainly poisoned for his revolutionary thoughts, for his lifestyle which the Greeks could not allow him. Certainly his influence over the Greek youth was immense, and the older generation was absolutely afraid: soon they will be gone and the whole country will be under the influence of a man who is against tradition, who is against God, who is against heaven and hell and all other nonsense, who insists only on one thing: truth. And that truth is within you, not in the scriptures, not in any savior, not in any messenger.
Socrates was certainly poisoned by the society because he was a tremendous revolutionary – a man in revolt. Of course, whatever he was saying was for the benefit of the whole of humanity, but it went against the past. Anything that is going to enhance your future, make it richer, more beautiful, more humane, is bound to be against the past. The past is barbarous, ugly, condemnable. But Jesus was not doing any such thing. Why was he crucified? He was fully in agreement with the old past, he accepted all that Judaism proposed as fundamentals.
My understanding is: Jesus was crucified because people finally became fed up hearing that they are just sheep and he is the shepherd. He hurt so many people’s egos, he destroyed so many people’s self-respect, a certain dignity of being human beings. That was the reason of Jesus’ crucifixion; otherwise he was utterly innocent. He had not committed any visible crime.
But this crime is far more murderous, although it is invisible, it does not appear on the surface, you cannot catch hold of it. But you can understand: you cannot forgive anybody who pretends to be higher than you, holier than you. He is the only begotten son of God and you are all orphans? – bastards? What are you? If God is the father of all, then who is this man who pretends to be the only begotten son? The emphasis is on only; he takes away the whole humanity’s right to nourish his own ego.
Otherwise whatever he was saying and doing would have been ignored. There was nothing special in it. He was simply repeating the old prophets of the Jews; he was quoting old prophets of the Jews – and not even correctly, because he was not educated and he could not read. He had never been under a rabbi – and the Jews had a long tradition of thousands of years of learning. They had a great university in Jerusalem, where people devoted their whole lives to studying. They were very rich as far as knowledgeability is concerned.