Who Killed Jesus?

Two thousand years ago, the only perfect sinless Man ever to walk on earth, died a horrendous death on a cross. The question is often asked, who actually killed Jesus of Nazareth? Was it the Jews?  Is it because they said, “Let his blood be upon us,” that they were dispersed and suffered much over the centuries, notably during the Holocaust in World War 2? Or was it the Romans, whose empire collapsed some time later?

Or should we ascribe it to Satan? Wasn’t it Satan who stirred the people to reject and hate Jesus? Wasn’t it Satan who prompted Judas Iscariot to betray Him? There is definitely incriminating evidence in Scripture against the Jewish leaders. We read in Mat. 26 and 27 that the elders and priests plotted secretly to have Jesus arrested and killed. When the Jewish bystanders were given the opportunity by the Roman governor to have Him released, they called for the vile criminal, Barrabas, to be freed and shouted for Jesus to be crucified. This revealed their true motive. They were not really concerned about Caesar’s rule being threatened by Jesus -they simply hated Jesus. Jesus knew at least six months before his crucifixion (during the Feast of Tabernacles) that they wanted to kill Him (John 7:1, 19,25).

But it is not only the Jewish elders and priests that need to be considered. On the day of Pentecost, Peter addressed the whole nation of Israel when he said, “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs ... ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:22-23). As far as Peter was concerned, the whole nation of Israel was guilty of His crucifixion. We now turn to the Roman soldiers. Although Pilate at one stage said that he would deliver Jesus to the Jews, so that they could crucify Him (John 19:6, 16), the actual crucifixion was done by the Roman soldiers (John 19:23). Crucifixion was the Roman way of executing the death penalty on criminals.

But who was the mastermind behind all of this? Was it not Satan? We know that Satan wanted Jesus killed. Satan was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). He was ready to have Jesus killed as soon as He was born (Rev. 12:4). When Jesus was two years old, Satan inspired Herod to kill all two year old and younger baby boys in Bethlehem and surrounds (Mat 2:16). It was by God’s divine intervention, warning and instructing that Joseph fled to Egypt and that Jesus was not killed as a baby. Thirty one years further on, it was Satan who put the thought in Judas’ mind to betray Jesus (John 13:2). Since Satan is the prince of the power of the air; the spirit that works in unconverted people’s minds (Eph. 2:2) and the deceiver of the whole world (Rev. 12:9), there can be no doubt that he influenced the events and the thinking of all those in Jerusalem who had a part in the death of Jesus.So in answering the question of who killed Jesus, one might say “all of the above, with Satan being the mastermind behind all of it.” “Elementary, my dear Watson,” someone might add.It is however not so elementary.  We have thus far not come close to the real answer. The mastermind behind the crucifixion was not Satan, although he thought he was at the time. In fact, the irony in this situation, unlike most other murder detective stories, is that if he was questioned at the time of the crucifixion, he probably would have proudly boasted that he was the mastermind.

The truth is that God Himself was the Mastermind. It was actually Father God who killed Jesus! For some this may sound outrageous and blasphemous. But let us consider, with an open mind, what is revealed in the Word.In Rev. 13: 8 we read that the Lamb - Jesus Christ (John 1:29), was “ slain from the foundation of the world.” Before the earth was populated, God saw the need for a Saviour who had to die in order for humans to receive eternal life. It is a principle in God’s heart: out of death comes life (see John 12:24). It was determined by God before the earth was populated that Jesus would fulfil the role of a lamb to be slain to save the human race.  Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Godhead, willingly agreed to the Father’s request that He be that Lamb.  And it is well worth noting that He was the Lamb of God – not the Lamb of mankind (see again John 1:29). It was God the Father who required a Lamb and His Son was to be that Lamb.  The slayer of the Lamb had to be God Himself. Not only was the Lamb slain, but He was in the process badly bruised.  Do you know who bruised Him?  God the Father!  Not only that, but we read that “it pleased the LORD to bruise him (Isa 53:10).” It pleased God!

In any murder case today the detectives ask, what could have been the motive? We can thus ask, why did God take pleasure in bruising His Son before killing Him? Surely God is no sadist. He is a loving God – in fact it is written “God is love” (1 John 4:8). And there can be no greater love than the love between God the Father and the Son (Mat. 17:5). The answer has to do with what lies deep in the character of God.  There are certain things that are impossible for God to do, even though He has all power and authority. He cannot act against his own nature. He must be true to Himself. It is impossible for God to lie (Hebr. 6:18).  It is impossible for God to be unrighteous.  His holiness requires that he cannot allow sin and its resulting turmoil in His house (Isa 59:2; Luk. 10:18). Human sin is an effrontery to God and held in abhorrence by Him.  He cannot simply forgive sin without a price being paid. Neither can He simply infuse His divine nature into people without acquiring the right to do so – this, in terms of his own moral character.  

That is why these areas were taken care of by God before or since the foundation of the world. Everything was put in place by God whereby the sins of mankind would be paid for by the slaying of His Lamb – His beloved Son (1 Pet. 1:19,20; Rev. 13:8), which slaying culminated on the cross. This gave God the right to fulfil what He had ordained before the foundation of the world, namely that man was to be in Christ – in union with Him (Eph. 1:4). When this was fulfilled at the cross, Jesus cried out, “It is finished.” From that point onwards, the hold that Satan had on mankind was broken. It was now morally justifiable for God to birth a new godly nature in every believer - the Christ-life or rest that He had ordained from the foundation of the world.

To put it in another way: the rest God had predetermined before the foundation of the world for the believer (Hebr.4:3), could only be obtained if there was reconciliation between God and man by the union between Christ and the individual. Reconciliation requires redemption. Redemption requires the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  We read that “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebr 9:22).  Believers are “justified by his [Christ’s] blood” (Rom. 5:9), and while we were still enemies of God, “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom. 5:10).  Union with Christ, on the other hand, required the birthing of God’s Seed (the Spirit of His Son) into the believer – “[b]eing born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible , by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23). This all was accomplished by the death of His Son on the Cross as well as His resurrection from the dead. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much food” (John 12:24).  “[b]eing reconciled, we shall be saved by his life...”(Rom 5:10). God the Father was the one who was behind the slaying of Jesus. He used others to play their part in it, but even though they acted voluntarily, they were still fulfilling what had been determined by Him before the foundation of the world.

God’s motive in the killing of His Son was perfectly pure.  Henceforth, nothing would stand in the way of God’s plan being fulfilled: having perfect Christ-natured sons filling His house in heaven. Jesus Christ went willingly through this ordeal “for the joy that was set before him” (Hebr. 12:2), which is not so much that He would be exalted but that He would rejoice in His Father’s plan coming to fruition.



Johann Grobler