Who killed Jesus? This is a question that has been asked for centuries and one that continues to spark debate.
Was it the Romans, who carried out the physical act of crucifixion? Was it the Jewish religious leaders, who demanded his death sentence? Or was it something else entirely? What role did each group play in bringing about Jesus' execution and why were they motivated to do so? Did God himself put in motion an event which would lead to His own son's ultimate sacrifice?
These are all questions we must ask ourselves when considering this ancient mystery; they are to provoke thought and eventually come to a conclusion.
In order to answer these questions and gain a better understanding of what led up to Jesus' death, we must first examine the historical context of the time period.
At the time of the life and death of Jesus Christ according to the New Testament, there were two types of people that had control and influence over Israel.
Rome was a powerful empire that ruled much of the known world. The Romans had established itself as an autocratic state with absolute power over its citizens, which included Jews living in Judea at the time. They placed a king in Judea, Herod the Great, and Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.
The Jewish leaders also had influence and control over the jewish people. They had a high priest who was Caiaphas and there was a group of Jewish leaders who were called the Sanhedrin which are divided into two groups: Pharisees and Sadducees.
The Pharisees are those who sought to keep their traditions alive by adhering strictly to religious laws. The Sadducees are those who favored assimilation into Roman culture and accepted Roman rule. Both the Pharisees and Sadducees studied the Scriptures and knew them well.
The death of Jesus is a central historical event that has had a lasting impact on countless generations. The arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus were all part of the plan for his ultimate sacrifice in order to bring salvation to mankind.
The death of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity and the foundation for the gospel.
The Process of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers at night in the Garden of Gethsemane after being betrayed by Judas Iscariot.
Jesus was then taken before various Jewish leaders including Caiaphas, the high priest at the time who interrogated him and declared him guilty of blasphemy against God. The gospels note that the chief priests and the Jews mocked and beat Jesus.
After this he was handed over to Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, where he stood trial for the accusations made by the chief priests and the Jews.
Pilate asked the Jews what should they do with Jesus and all the people answered with crucifixion. The Jews, Jesus' own people, and the Romans sentenced Jesus to be crucified.
The Roman soldiers took Jesus to be flogged in preparation his crucifixion. They beat him like they would wicked men full of sin.
The Roman soldiers, making Jesus carry his own cross, then took him away from Jerusalem toward a place called Golgotha where they nailed him onto a cross and put him up next to 2 criminals.
Jesus suffering continued on the cross for 3 more hours until he give up his life and Jesus died.
On the third day, Jesus Christ defeated death and was raised to life. The cross could not stop Jesus and the sins of the whole world could not stop Jesus.
Through Jesus' crucifixion we have access to eternal life.
The four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all give their own account of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Did the Jews Kill Jesus Christ?
Can we say that the Jews killed Jesus? While the Jews may not have explicitly killed Jesus, they played a major role in seeing Jesus crucified.
Throughout the time of Jesus' ministry, the religious leaders saw Jesus as a threat to their authority and influence. Multiple times in the Bible, specifically in the gospels, we find plots against Jesus' life.
In John 7:1, “After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.
The Gospel of Luke 22:2, "And the chief priests and the scribes were trying to find a way to put Him to death, since they were afraid of the people"
In Matthew 26:3-4, "At that time the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the courtyard of the high priest named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to arrest Jesus covertly and kill Him"
The Jews attempted to find anything they could to put Jesus to death. As Jesus grew in popularity and favor with most Jews, he was hated more by other Jews. What they hated the most were the claims Jesus made about himself. Jesus claimed that he was from God as well as equal to God.
The Jews presented Jesus as a threat to the Romans. They used titles such as "King of the Jews" which poses a threat to the Romans and their empire.
Although the Jews did not directly kill Jesus, they made the effort and push to silence the Son of God while doing their best to keep their public reputation and not upset their Jewish followers. So without physically executing Christ's death, we could say the Jews killed Jesus.
Did the Romans Kill Jesus Christ?
In Christ's days the authority to execute lay within the Roman government. Roman governors held the power to carry out any form of execution, and it was Pontius Pilate who ordered Jesus' death. They are the ones who physically crucified Jesus.
In Matthew chapter 27, we see a discussion between Pilate and Jesus where we find no desire for killing Jesus from the Romans. The first question Pilate asks Jesus is verse 11, "Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, 'So You are the King of the Jews?' And Jesus said to him, 'It is as you say.'
The question Pilate asked Jesus was a very serious question and could become a very serious accusation. Christ taking the title of King of the Jews is a dangerous because the Romans had already appointed a king. To the Romans, a statement like this is treason, which is punishable by crucifixion.
The gospel accounts Pilate found no charge against Jesus, Pilate sent Jesus away to be crucified and gave the orders to his soldiers to see that Jesus is crucified.
They flogged Jesus, they beat him, drawing blood from every part of his body.
On the way to Golgotha, all the people watched Jesus carry his cross.
The gospels tell us the Romans lead Jesus to the place of his crucifixion. They nailed him to the cross and they crucified Jesus with two other men.
The gospels make it clear that the Romans are the ones who carried out Christ's death. Did Pilate have the opportunity to say no to killing Jesus? Could Pilate deny the request of the Jews? Yes, he could have, but instead he gave the ok to Christ's death. We could say the Romans killed Jesus.
Did I kill Jesus Christ?
Was I the one who killed Jesus? Could we in the modern times be the reason for Jesus' death. Maybe it was not about the Jews or the Romans who killed Jesus but humans in general. Jesus was on the cross for my sins and the sins of the world.
Peter in Acts 2, tells the people that they are the ones who put Jesus to death although they did not commit the act of killing Jesus.
He says in verse 22-24, "Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by god to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him."
It was our need of salvation from our sins that brought Jesus down from heaven and restore mankind. We are the ones who killed Jesus.
Conclusion: Who Killed Jesus?
Who killed Jesus? Who is responsible for Jesus' death? I believe the answer is we all are. The Jews were the ones who wanted Jesus dead, and the Romans carried out the physical activity of executing Christ. But all mankind is responsible for putting Jesus to death on that cross. We are all guilty of killing him, in a sense. Our need for salvation brought Jesus to earth who gave his life so we may be saved. Everyone played a role in Jesus' death directly or indirectly. But through the death of Jesus, we were given salvation and a new way of life.