It happens every year around Easter. It happens every time another movie about Jesus is produced. It is happening now with the advent of Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of The Christ. There is a certain amount of emotional confusion about WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF JESUS!!! One cannot hear a news report or an interview about the movie without being bombarded with remarks about Anti-Semitism.
After 48 years of serious Bible study I have come to the following conclusion about the crucifixion and who is responsible for ONE of the TWO greatest events in human history. (The other event is the resurrection of Jesus.) Usually this type of discussion focuses on the people who were actually involved in the crucifixion, the Jews and the Romans. There is also some attention given to humanity in general. The most important little group of two is usually ignored. Each of the groups mentioned definitely played their parts in the crucifixion. May we see what the Bible says about each?
The Jews are the ones who are most often blamed for the crucifixion. They were the ones who brought Jesus before the Roman officials. They were the ones who cried, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him. " In the New Testament, Peter and Paul, (both were Jews) clearly refer to the Jews as the ones who crucified Jesus. In Acts 2:36, as Peter was preaching on the Day of Pentecost he plainly said, "Therefore let all the HOUSE OF ISRAEL know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, WHOM YE HAVE CRUCIFIED, both Lord and Christ." (Remember, Peter was a Jew) (A note of interest: 3000 Jews received Jesus and were baptized that day!!!) In Acts 4:10 Peter says, "Be it known unto you all, and to ALL THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, WHOM YE CRUCIFIED, whom God raised from the dead" (Peter was not Anti-Semitic, he WAS Semitic!! He was simply telling the truth!!)
Paul, a Jew among Jews, says in I Thessalonians 2:14 & 15, "For ye brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the JEWS; WHO BOTH KILLED THE LORD JESUS, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us." (Paul, like Peter was a Jew. He was not Anti-Semitic. He was giving an account of the truth.)
The Roman officials and soldiers all had their part in the crucifixion. It is interesting, however, that few people ever get upset at the Romans because of their part in the death of Jesus.
Humanity in general played a part in the crucifixion. Most of us were not literally present that day. One might say that we were all represented that day. I prefer to say, "My sin, along with all the sin from Adam to the last sinner to be born, made the death of Jesus necessary." Had I been there in my original unregenerate state of being, I would have probably joined the Jews and cried, "Crucify Him."
”As Jesus was dying on the cross He prayed in Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." My interpretation of this short prayer is that He was praying for everyone involved in the crucifixion. He did not blame anyone. He said, "They do not know what they are doing." Evidently those for whom He prayed thought they knew what they were doing.
What did the Jews THINK they were doing? According to Matthew 26:57-66, they thought they were doing the right thing. In this passage Jesus is before the Jewish authorities. The authorities had brought in some false witnesses. The best accusation they had was, "This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days." (Matthew 26:61) Jesus did not respond to that accusation.
Matthew 26:63-66 says, "And the high priest answered and said unto him, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus said unto him, "Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest rent his clothing, saying, "HE HATH SPOKEN BLASPHEMY; what further need have we of witnesses? behold now ye have heard this blasphemy. What THINK ye?" They answered and said, "HE IS GUILTY OF DEATH."" Leviticus 24:16 says, "And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, HE SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH." The Jewish leaders really thought that Jesus was a blasphemer and deserved to die!!! Jesus himself said, "They do not KNOW."
The Roman officials and soldiers were just doing their job. They did not care about the petty religious problems of the Jews. That which moved the Roman officials to take action against Jesus was His claim to be the King of the Jews. That was political, not religious. (Somebody could lose his job here!!!) John 18:33-37 says, "Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered him, "Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee?" Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world: If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, ART THOU A KING THEN? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth."" The remaining portion of John 18 records that Pilate found no fault with Jesus. I see Pilate as being a weak man who feared for his own position. Therefore, rather than set Jesus free, he simply gave Him to the Jews and then furnished the soldiers for the execution. Pilate had not a clue what Jesus meant as He spoke of His kingdom.
We have considered the Jews, the Romans and humanity in general. Let us now look at that MOST IMPORTANT LITTLE GROUP OF TWO!!! Who could these two possibly be??? John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world, that HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." On the Day of Pentecost, as Peter was preaching, "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, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, BEING DELIVERED BY THE DETERMINATE COUNSEL AND FOREKNOWLEDGE OF GOD, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain"" (Acts 2:22-23)
John 10:17-18 says, "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I LAY DOWN MY LIFE, that I might take it again. No man (one) taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." Thus we see the LITTLE GROUP OF TWO, THE FATHER AND THE SON, that is totally responsible for the crucifixion!!! John 3:16 refers far more to Jerusalem and the cross than it does to Bethlehem and the manger. God giving His Son speaks of the sacrifice on Calvary not the birth in Bethlehem. John 10:17-18 clearly states that the crucifixion was an act of obedience on the part of the Son. Jesus plainly declares that the 'laying down' of His life was His choice. He said, "NO MAN (ONE) TAKETH IT FROM ME, BUT I LAY IT DOWN OF MYSELF." God loved and gave His Son. The son obeyed and gave His life.
So where does this leave the Jews and Romans??? Acts 4:1-37 records a momentous event in the life of the early church. Peter and others had been preaching in the temple. They were arrested by the Jewish officials and warned to no longer preach or teach in the name of Jesus. Acts 4:23-28 says, "And being let go, they went to their company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, "Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, FOR TO DO WHATSOEVER THY HAND AND THY COUNSEL DETERMINED BEFORE TO BE DONE. This last passage clearly teaches that God was in charge of everything that transpired that day on Calvary.
There were no accidents.
There were no surprises. The entire event was under the direct supervision of the Father who had planned it all from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8) The Jews, the Romans, Herod, and Pilate, the people of Israel: ALL were simply tools in the hands of the builder. They were no more or less than HAMMER, NAILS, and TIMBER. We must understand that the Father loved sinners so much that He gladly gave His Son as the ultimate sacrifice for sin. We must also comprehend that all of the people, events and circumstances surrounding the crucifixion were put into place by the Father to accomplish His sacrifice. Remember, Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." The Father and the Son were the only ones there who really KNEW what was happening!!!
So, my dear friends rejoice and be exceeding glad. We must be about the business of praising and thanking the Father and the Son for the great love they poured upon us that day as Jesus died. Forget the 'blame game' and start the 'PROCLAIM GAME'.
Go tell someone about Jesus!!!
One must not leave this subject without discussing a most misunderstood concept. Often I hear people blame the devil for the crucifixion. They will speak about his part in it, etc. If he played any part at all, it was no more than his usual dealing with the sinful hearts of human beings. The fact is this, the crucifixion of Jesus was the absolute last thing that Satan wanted to occur. Satan had known since Genesis 3 that the seed of the woman, namely Jesus, would one day crush his head. Satan did not see the crucifixion as his victory over Jesus. Satan saw the crucifixion as his day of demise, the day that the deathblow would be struck, the day of defeat. Some people picture Satan laughing gleefully as Jesus suffered, bled and died. I see him cowering behind a big rock, scared out of his wits. He was the loser and he knew it.
I came to this understanding after realizing that since the curse in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), Satan had done everything he could to prevent Jesus dying on the cross. Think for a moment about the many occasions on which Satan tried to destroy Israel in the Old Testament. Why would he want to destroy Israel??? The only reason for Israel to exist was to bring the Messiah, Jesus, to the world. Recall all the times in the New Testament that Satan tried to prevent Jesus from getting to the cross. One example occurred shortly after His birth when Herod wanted to kill Him. This was an effort of Satan to destroy his enemy. Satan did all he could do to prevent Jesus from actually getting to the cross. Satan knew that if Jesus ever made it to the cross and died there that his (Satan's) destiny would be sealed forever.
One last thought on the subject. I can see that if someone sees the crucifixion as a bad thing, he would naturally blame Satan for it. The crucifixion was NOT A BAD THING!!! It was a GOOD THING, A VERY GOOD THING. It was the ultimate expression of God's love for us. Note: It was not a bad thing that God turned into a good thing. IT WAS A GOOD THING PLANNED FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD BY THE FATHER HIMSELF.
Dear Reader, do not give Satan any undue attention or glory by blaming him for the best thing that ever happened for us.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY, GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE. SO LOVED HE THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE US HIS SON.