Who crucified Jesus? God did to fulfill His divine purposes.
God designed His Son’s death to accomplish victory over evil and suffering. From the Book of Acts we learn that Jesus was handed over by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23). The lashings, the thorns, the nails, the spear, the scorn, betrayal, and desertion, though the results of sin, happened to Jesus under God’s sovereign control.
God is the sovereign Lord of all events who rules history to fulfill His purpose. What His will determines, His power carries out. No army, government, or council can stand in God’s way.
Christ’s Resurrection from the dead is not a secondary issue - the Resurrection is foundational to our faith. In fact, it’s what sets Christianity apart from all other faiths. For that reason, it’s easy to see why people have attempted to explain away, minimize, and even trivialize the Resurrection.
The Bible contains four accounts of Jesus’ death. They all agree on the essentials: Jesus died on a cross at a place called Golgotha, hung up between two other men with a sign above His head. "King of the Jews," it said. The charge was treason. He was executed Roman style. People divided up His clothes. He was offered sour wine before He died and then He died.
We must recall that Jewish men were required by law to go to Jerusalem three times each year to celebrate the major feasts (Deut. 16:16): 1) Passover in the spring; 2) Pentecost (meaning fifty) seven weeks and a day later (Lev. 23:15,16); and, 3) Tabernacles at the end of the harvest in the fall (see Lev. 23 for details of the Jewish festival calendar).
It is very easy to understand God’s plan of redemption if we understand the feasts. Jesus was crucified on Passover, placed in the tomb on the Feast of Unleavened Bread and He celebrates the Feast of First Fruits by rising from the dead and becoming the First Fruits of the dead.
The high priest’s practice of killing the Passover Lamb had been in force for hundreds, perhaps a thousand years. On Friday of the year Jesus died, the Jews celebrated Passover and killed a lamb for the temple sacrifice. At the same time the high priests were killing the Passover Lamb, Jesus, the Lamb of God, Who died in order to take our sins upon Himself.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
The year that Jesus died, Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath - was also the day on which the Jews celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast reminded the Jews of the bread that God provided for the Israelites when they left Egypt. Wheat seeds must die in order to bring forth crop. Jesus had to die and be buried in order to accomplish His ministry and be raised to a new life. Unleavened bread was made without yeast, because yeast represented sin (1 Cor. 5:7–8). In the same way, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sinless.
Feast of the Firstfruits
On the Sunday following Jesus’ death, the Israelites celebrated the Feast of Firstfruits, the beginning of the barley harvest. The Israelites returned to God the first part of everything they had been given to indicate their thankfulness for the harvest, their acknowledgement that God had given them the gifts, and their faith that God would continue to provide (Num. 15:17–21; Deut. 26:1–11). They gave the best part of what they received to God (Ex. 23:19). On that day, Jesus was raised to life as God’s firstfruits, the guarantee that the rest would follow, including the resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20–23).
Was an annual Jewish festival also known as the Feast of Weeks or the Day of Firstfruits – a celebration of the first buds of the harvest. From the time Jesus rose from the dead until Pentecost was fifty days. He then remained here on earth forty days, speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God, and then He left as He said He would. After ten more days’ prophecy was once again fulfilled – The Holy Spirit was sent (Acts, chapters 1 and 2). Jesus said that He had to go away so that He could send the Holy Spirit (in the New Testament Greek, pneuma refers to the Holy Spirit, the human spirit and evil spirit. Pneuma bagion is usually translated the Holy Spirit - the article the is inserted and capital letters are used to distinguish between other instances). In John 16:7 we read Jesus’ Words:
But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
The Passion Week
Palm Sunday: Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem; crowds greet Him with palm branches and shouts of "Hosanna," the battle cry of nationalistic Zealots; Jesus weeps for Jerusalem, knowing the Zealots’ extremism will eventually lead to the destruction of the city and the temple.
Monday: Jesus curses the fig tree; Jesus returns to the temple; Jesus clears the Gentile courts of moneychangers and vendors.
Tuesday: Religious leaders question Jesus’ authority, but Jesus evades their trick questions and speaks the truth; Jesus teaches in the temple, telling several parables and warning people against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees; Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple and tells His disciples about His future return.
Wednesday: The gospel writers do not tell us what Jesus did on this day; religious leaders probably continued plotting Jesus’ death, and Judas agreed to betray Him.
Thursday: In the evening, Jesus celebrates the Passover meal with His disciples; Jesus institutes the Last Supper, giving the Passover meal new meaning; late Thursday evening, Jesus prays at Gethsemane and is later arrested; sometime later Thursday night or Friday morning, Peter denies Jesus three times and Jesus is questioned by Caiphas, the high priest.
Friday: Just before dawn, Jesus has trials before Pilate and Herod Antipas; At 9 A.M., Jesus is nailed to the cross; Jesus dies at 3 P.M.; to avoid breaking Sabbath law, Jesus was placed in the tomb before sundown.
Resurrection Sunday: Jesus’ tomb is found empty; Jesus appears to the women visiting the tomb; Jesus appears to the travelers on the road to Emmaus.
One Week Later: Appears to disciples with Thomas.
During the 40 Days Until His Ascension: Appears to seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee; appears to 500; His final commission to the eleven disciples to make disciples; He promises the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to carry out the task.
So we see that if He did not die, He could not remove our sins; He could not rise again and defeat death. If He did not go back to the Father, the Holy Spirit would not come. Jesus’ presence on earth was limited to one place at a time. His leaving meant He could be present to the whole world through the Holy Spirit.
His suffering is our salvation. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Praise God Almighty ... Jesus Is Lord!