Tuesday, 18 February 2014

WHO KILLED JESUS?

It was the greatest crime in the Universe. Nothing less than the brutal assassination of God’s own Son!

But who are the guilty men? 

There are many ways of answering this question.
 For centuries people who called themselves Christians answered it by pointing to the Jewish people. So much so that the Jews became notorious in Christendom as the “Christ-killers”. That accusation has been used throughout history to justify the most terrible acts of  persecution towards Jewish people, all performed in the name of the Christ who came Himself as a Jew!

 The violent hatred towards the Jewish people has stained the name of the Church in history and remains a cause of lasting shame to European civilisation.  But, whatever the motivations of the people who have used this message to spread anti-Semitism in history; we ought not to ignore the stark fact that the New Testament  teaches us that there is truth to the allegation.



 Peter, testifying before the Jewish Sanhedrin proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ “whom you crucified” (Acts 4:10). The Jewish leaders had conspired to bring under their power the Man who had long been a thorn in their flesh so that they might destroy Him. On a dark Passover night in Jerusalem they put their plan into action and ruthlessly executed it.

 And we cannot say that only the Jewish leadership were culpable in this sin.

This was not a case where the ordinary Jewish person remained ignorant of a crime that was committed in the shadows. For hours after His arrest in the full glare of day Pontius Pilate, seeking a way out of his terrible dilemma with regard to his innocent Prisoner, offered to the people of Jerusalem an exchange. A guilty robber called Barabbas for the innocent Man from Nazareth.  The people’s dreadful reply has rung down the centuries, “Let Him be crucified!... “His blood be upon us and upon our children!(Mt 27:15-25).

 The apostle Paul confirms this guilt when he refers the Thessalonians to, “the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets” (1 Thess 2:14-15)

But we cannot stop there.

For the Jews were not alone in killing Christ. They had help.

For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together” (Acts 4:27)

The Jews had no power under Roman jurisdiction to put someone to death.  That penalty could only be carried out by the governing authorities.

 Therefore the Bible teaches us that actually the crime was committed by an alliance of Jews and Gentiles. And since, Jews and Gentiles together represent the whole of humanity; then it is perfectly accurate to say that Mankind collectively put Christ to death. This was sinful Man’s supreme act of rebellion against His Creator, in declaring: “we will not have this Man to rule over us!” (Lk 19:14).

 Following this logic, we have to concede that we all share, as part of our union with fallen Adam, in the collective sin. We are all of us guilty of the greatest crime in history!

Collectively guilty. But also personally guilty.
“Ashamed I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there until it was accomplished”

Stuart Townend understood it when he penned those words.
I put Him to death because if it were not for my sin, His death would not have been necessary.

I am the reason He had to die. And so are you.

All of these are valid as answers to our question All are legitimate, but still they remain only partial answers.  We have not yet reached the full truth. The full truth is far more shocking than any of these.

Christ said to Pilate,
You would have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (Jn 19:11)

Peter said at Pentecost that Christ was: “delivered up by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God”(Acts 2:23)

The Hebrew prophet Isaiah had long before foreseen that “it was the will of the Lord to crush Him” (Isa 53:10)

Ultimately then we must say it was God who put Christ  to death!

Further "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2 Cor 5:19)

And Christ was Himself fully complicit in the act!

“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again”(Jn 10:17-18)

This was no helpless victim. 

He could have called upon twelve legions of angels had He wished!
He was in complete control throughout His arrest, His trial and even His crucifixion.

Even to the point of choosing the very moment of His death.

And rising from the dead,
having disarmed principalities and powers, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the Cross” (Col 2:15)

Hence we now worship Him as Victor not victim.