A new movie is out for the evangelical set: The Investigator. Judging from the website, it’s a blend of tropes revolving around a detective story:
Depressed and angry, James isolates himself until his famous brother encourages him to take a job as a criminal justice teacher and baseball coach at a Christian high school. With his cop mentality challenging his students, James struggles through experiences with an unsupportive principal, a guidance counselor with a secret, and rebellious students. But when his best option seems to be quitting, a student challenges him to begin the investigation that will change his life, and those of his students, forever…the investigation into the homicide of Jesus Christ.
I’ve seen this idea of “the murder of Jesus Christ” several times now. I know that some classes from a local Christian school have done courtroom enactments of the trial of Jesus. What really is the point?
Even if you posit that the Gospels were unbiased eye-witness accounts – which is far from the case – you still have the problem of definition. Murder is an unlawful killing. But in the Roman system, it was perfectly lawful for the authorities to kill people for the least of reasons. Being stubborn with the judge was enough.
Whatever his intention, Jesus’ triumphal procession into Jerusalem and his display in the temple made him an obvious focus for radical anti-roman sects. This would seem to be enough to bring down official condemnation on his head. Where’s the murder mystery here?
To make matters worse, the whole thing was organized by God. In the first recorded Christian sermon, Peter’s Pentecost sermon, he declares that Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God”. If there’s a murder here, the investigator will find that the mastermind is his own deity.