- The Jewish Sanhedrin led by Caiaphas?
- The Romans led by Pontius Pilate and Herod?
- Judas and his betrayal?
While the Gospels all reveal that each of the above played their part in Jesus’ death, they are not responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion and death. The true answer is often difficult for believers to comprehend. In a sense, Jesus killed Jesus, but his actions were part of God’s plan of redemption. In a nutshell, Jesus died for me and you that we might be reconciled to him and the stain of sin forever removed.
Jesus knew that it was God’s will that he die. “They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.” (Mark 10:32-34, NRSV) [see also Mark 8:31, 9:31, Matthew 16:21, Matthew 20:17-19, Luke 18:31-33). The most telling proof we have of Jesus’ willingness to die is recorded in the Gospel of John: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.” (John 10:17-18) With these words, Jesus makes it clear that death was his choice. He gave his life freely.
Sin entered the world with the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Old Testament makes it clear that God does not abide by sin, but in his justice and mercy, he sent his only Son into the word as a flesh and bone human being to bring to his plan of redemption to fruition. God wants us to be in close relationship with him, but our sinfulness prevents it. Our death is not enough to atone for our sin, which does indeed, deserve eternal separation from God – death gets the final word. Only the perfect “Lamb of God can take away the sins of the world” can make the payment. Belief in Jesus is the only way for the complete remission of our sins. It is our path to eternal life. Through grace alone, by faith alone, we are saved. Death no longer has the final word. To answer the question “Who killed Jesus,” we need only look into a mirror.
Lord, God, Father of All, we praise you for the sacrifice of your Holy, Blessed, Blameless Son, who on the Cross took on the weight of our sin and broke the chains of death for all, allowing us to enter into a full, loving life with you, in this life and the life to come. We praise the Lamb of God for fulfilling your plan for our salvation. We praise the Holy Spirit that stirs up our faith in your promises and leads us in the path of righteousness. We worship you, God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as our one true God now and forever. Amen