For centuries people have struggled with the question of who should bear the responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus. Some have pointed the finger of blame to the Jewish leaders who conspired against Jesus and incited the crowd to call for his death. And at various times, some who claim to be Christian have used the role of the Jews in Jesus’ death to justify all sorts of anti-Semitism.
Turn on the History channel documentary and you’ll see a very different emphasis that looks to the role of Pontius Pilate and the Roman empire in carrying out Jesus’ execution (since the Jews had no authority to execute criminals on their own).
The Bible records no more grievous sin than the murder of Jesus. Not only was he innocent of any wrongdoing, but Jesus deserved praise, worship and whole-hearted devotion. After all, Jesus created each and every man who came into contact with him, not to mention the rest of the world and the highest heavens.
But while the Bible doesn’t absolve the Jews or the Romans (or their individual leaders) for the part they played in crucifying Jesus, it gives a very different answer about who was ultimately responsible.
Who killed Jesus? God did: “[F]or truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” Acts 4:27. Here we have the ultimate confluence of man’s sin and God’s sovereignty. Herod and the Jews and Pilate and the Romans? All responsible for a heinous sin in murdering God the son. And behind it all? God’s gracious plan of redemption for mankind.
This was no act of “divine child abuse,” as some like to say. Rather, God’s purpose in the crucifixion of Jesus was to put him forward “as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith . . . so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:25-26. In other words, God offered up Jesus to bear the full brunt of his righteous wrath against our sinful rebellion. Jesus’ death on the cross satisfied God’s justice and opened the door for man to have peace with God through faith.
Thank God that he killed Jesus so that he could be both the just and the justifier! Happy Good Friday, everyone.