Summary: Who was responsible for Christ’s crucifixion?
Have you ever stopped to consider who killed Jesus? This is a bit more complex than you might think upon first consideration. I’d like to share with you six answers to that question…
I realize that this is not a politically-correct thing to say. After all, the Jews have gone through an enormous amount of suffering through the ages. And much of the suffering has come from the hands of Christians:
· In the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages the Jews were exposed to constant harassment, frequent expulsions, and sometimes massacre. One of the worst examples occurred during the First Crusade (1096-99).
· The Spanish Inquisition continued the horrific mistreatment of Jews until they were all eventually expelled from Spain in 1492.
· Even Martin Luther, after earlier more favorable views, made bitter and despicable attacks on the Jews.
Though the accusation that the Jews killed Jesus is a politically-incorrect thing to assert - it is nonetheless true. They utterly rejected Jesus in the end and had Him crucified.
…the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.(Lk 24:20)
It is important to point out that there is no justification for treating the Jewish people with hatred.
· Jesus Himself was a Jew (and so were His disciples),
· God still has a future plan for the Jews & will not break His promises to them,
· The sins of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and even the attitudes of the Reformers like Martin Luther – are NOT reflective of the actions and attitudes of Jesus Christ.
· Jesus even demonstrated a forgiving spirit on the cross as He said, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
· Why did the Jews want Jesus to die? Blasphemy
Ultimately, their greatest charge against Jesus was blasphemy. Through His teachings, His miracles, and His actions He was claiming to be deity. To the Jewish mind, this was blasphemy of the highest degree.
Remember, on several occasions, the Jewish leaders attempted to capture or stone Jesus.
…“For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” (John 10:33)
Furthermore, Jesus’ liberating message was a threat to the established, ritualistic religion and political influences of Judaism in that day, under the leadership of the Pharisees, scribes, elders, priests, and the Herodians.
So, when Jesus healed on the Sabbath, or forgave someone’s sins, or ate with “sinners,” it was a direct affront to the revered traditions of that day.
Jesus has authority over Religion (The spiritual realm)
2. The Romans did. (John 19:17-22)
Perhaps the Romans are the most obvious answer to this question. After all, Jesus was arrested by Romans, whipped by Romans, and nailed to a Roman cross by the direct order of Pontius Pilate.
Many of us wear a Roman cross for jewelry. For many, it is a beautiful and visible testimony of our faith in the One who victoriously overcame death. But we should never forget just how horrible death by crucifixion was. And the Romans were merciless in their attitudes toward those who experienced it.
Illustration: Julius Caesar
At one point early in Julius Caesar’s political career, feelings ran so high against him that he thought it best to leave Rome. He sailed for the Aegean island of Rhodes, but on the way, the ship was attacked by pirates and Caesar was captured. The pirates demanded a ransom of 12,000 gold pieces, and Caesar’s staff was sent away to arrange the payment. Caesar spent almost 40 days with his captors, jokingly telling the pirates on several occasions that he would someday capture and crucify them to a man. The kidnappers were greatly amused, but when the ransom was paid and Caesar was freed, the first thing he did was gather a fleet and pursue the pirates. They were captured and crucified… to a man! Such was the Romans’ attitude toward crucifixion. It was to be reserved for the worst of criminals, a means of showing extreme contempt for the condemned. The suffering and humiliation of a Roman crucifixion were unequaled.
Our Savior suffered this humiliating and excruciating death at the Roman’s hands.
· Why did the Romans want Jesus to die?
Unlike the Jews, I assure you that it had nothing to do with the charge of blasphemy. The Romans had a multitude of gods that they believed in… what was one more? Who cared?
The charge of blasphemy couldn’t hold any water with the Romans. There was no punishment for that. So the Jews trumped up the charge of treason against Rome:
And they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King." (Luke 23:2)