Not that they were deceiving themselves. They may have thought themselves perfectly right, without a single question that they weren’t: “This man is dangerous and to destroy him is to save the society.” And of course whenever there is such an alternative – of saving the whole society by killing one man – the murder is worth it. The priests killed him because of their goodness, because of their virtue, because of their morality. They killed him in the name of God. They killed him very innocently.
This situation has arisen again and again in history. There seems to be no possibility of changing it. The only possibility would be for Jesus to be so moderate that he doesn’t hurt anybody – but then he is useless. You ask me rightly: he could have managed. He could have been very moderate and liberal. He could have talked like a politician who talks much but never says anything; who says many things but is always vague; who never clearly asserts anything so you can never pinpoint what he has said.
Jesus’ crime was that he was clear, certain; that whatsoever he was saying, he was not saying like a politician. He was opening his heart; he was not diplomatic. If he had diluted his teaching there would have been no trouble – but then there would have been no Christ either, and that would have been a greater murder. Then the Christ would have committed suicide.
As I see it, as things are, this is the only way things could have been. Jesus had to be as hard as he was, he had to be as rebellious as he was. He should not have diluted his message and he should not have come down and compromised.
The priests would have been happy if he had become a rabbi, a priest. Then there would have been no trouble. If he had just kept himself within the imprisonment of the tradition, if he had not tried to open new dimensions to humanity, there would have been no trouble. Then they would have worshipped him, loved him, sanctified him as a saint. They would have remembered him.
But he tried to open new dimensions. Then you are moving in danger, but that danger is worth taking. That Jesus was crucified is nothing to be worried about, because that is the only way. He pushed humanity to a higher level of being and consciousness.
It is not that he tried to manage in some way to be murdered. There was no need. Priests are enough; you need not provoke them. They will be provoked automatically, they move in a mechanical way. There was no need to provoke them. The very being of Jesus was enough.
You recoil from the whole idea of crucifixion because you cannot understand. It is not an ordinary murder. It is meaningful, it is significant, it has done much. It has created something new that never existed before. Through that crucifixion, Jesus changed almost half of humanity, forced them to move on a different path from one they had ever moved on.
But when you think about crucifixion you become afraid – as if you are being crucified. You don’t know that Jesus cannot be crucified. Only his body can, not him. But when you think of crucifixion, you think of yourself being completely crucified and killed. Your understanding about life and death is not there yet.