WHO KILLED JESUS?

Who killed Jesus? Who is responsible for Christ’s death? Is it the Jews who condemned Jesus for blasphemy and had Him arrested? Or was it the Romans who physically tortured and crucified Him? What about God the Father or all of sinful humanity? The answer to this question is multi-faceted and involves more than just one particular group bearing the responsibility for Christ’s death.

Undoubtedly, the Jews, especially the scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees, greatly opposed Jesus (Matthew 21:15; Luke 11:53; John 5:18; 7:45–52; 12:37). They accused Him of blasphemy on multiple occasions and sought to stone Him for it (Matthew 9:3; Mark 2:6–7; John 8:52–58; 10:31–33). The chief priests and elders accused Jesus (Matthew 27:12), mocked Him (Matthew 27:41), and held council to have Him arrested and to condemn Him to death (Mark 15:1). Judas, a Jew, betrayed Him (John 18:2). The Jews shouted, “‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’” as He stood trial before Pilate (Luke 23:21), and they asked for Barabbas, a thief, to be released instead of Jesus (Matthew 27:21). The Jews wanted to kill Jesus (Matthew 12:14).

Paul writes that the Jews bear part of the blame in killing Jesus.  However, the blame does not just fall on the Jews. In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter indicates that the Jews alone did not kill Jesus: “Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:22–23, emphasis added). The Romans were the “wicked men” by whom Jesus was killed. The Romans also share the blame in killing Jesus.

Although the Romans did not invent crucifixion, they perfected it and the torture that came along with it. Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus to be flogged and crucified (Matthew 27:26; John 19:1). Roman soldiers “stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said” (Matthew 27:28–29). The Roman soldiers drove the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross (John 19:23) and pierced His side with a spear to make sure He was dead (John 19:34). The Romans killed Jesus.

What was God the Father’s role in Jesus’ death? Romans 3:25 says that “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood,” and Romans 8:32 says that God “did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all.” Isaiah 53:10 also reveals that it was God’s will for Christ to die.

God willed to save His people, and salvation required a payment for sin. Jesus had to die. God could not spare Him. Jesus willingly laid down His life to save us from our sins (John 10:17–19), took the punishment we deserved for our sin, and reconciled us to God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

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