“Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.” (John 19:31 NIV)
Since it was against their religion to have bodies on crosses and to bury the dead on the Sabbath, these “fine” religious folks asked Pilate to break the legs of Jesus so that He would hurry up and die. By expediting Christ’s death, these devout religionists believed that they could get Christ buried before the Sabbath commenced, readying themselves for their religious observance. After all, you don’t won’t your doing away with the Son of God to interfere with the practice of your religion.
Contrary to popular opinion, religion is not one of the good things in this world. Like government and its courts, religion is also seen at its worst at the trial of Christ. Remember, it was the synagogue crowd in His hometown of Nazareth that attempted to throw Christ off a cliff (Luke 4:28-29). Religion is not, nor has it ever been, a friend of God. Instead, it has always been in league with “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), who masterfully uses it to keep men from the one and only true God.
The story is told of Karl Barth lecturing a group of students at Princeton. During Barth’s lecture, one of the students asked the renowned theologian, “Sir, don’t you think that God has revealed himself in other religions and not only in Christianity?” Barth’s answer stunned his audience. He replied, “No, God has not revealed himself in any religion… He has revealed Himself in his Son [Jesus Christ].” Religions are man-made attempts to do away with divine revelation; namely, with God’s Son through whom God has revealed Himself to the world.
The heart of religion is no less dark today than it was on the day they crucified Christ. For instance, the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attack on America were devout religionists. It makes no difference whether we’re talking about the IRA or the PLO, terrorist organizations throughout our world today are formed, operated and comprised by devout religionists. Far from being a blessing to our world, man-made religion is, and always as been, a blight.
Religion can no more wash its hands of the blood of Christ than Pontius Pilate could.