Who Killed Jesus?

Posted on September 9, 2020


By David Ettinger

A Great Misfortune
Believers who consistently read their Bibles and have a desire to accurately understand God’s Word should have no problem answering this question.

Sadly, through the centuries, multitudes of Christians – and those who call themselves “Christians” – neither read their Bibles consistently nor seek an accurate understanding of it. This inexcusable practice has led to the demonization of a particular group of people by the Church, and this is a great misfortune.

Politically and humanly speaking, it was the Jewish leadership in league with the Roman government which conspired to put Jesus to death. For much of Church history, however, the Jews were the lone culprits, and hence the centuries of reprehensible anti-Semitic brutality leveled at the Jewish people by the Church.

Though the Jews and the Romans were the actors who played their parts in Jesus’ death, can they realistically be labeled as those who killed Jesus? Is it possible that any mortal entity can kill the immortal God, even if Jesus did, for a time, inhabit a human body?

If the Jews and Romans were but conspirators and not the actual culprits, then what is the correct answer to the question, “Who Killed Jesus?”

Jesus’ Purpose

Before answering, it is necessary to note the purpose for which Jesus came to Earth.

The apostle Paul writes simply: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners …” (1 Peter 1:15, italic added). Similarly, we read in Hebrews 9:26 (italic added): “Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

So, what was Jesus’ earthly purpose? It was to offer salvation from the eternal consequences of sin. Since atonement for sin requires a blood sacrifice (Leviticus 17:11), the only way Jesus could do this was by shedding His own blood.

Bluntly put, Jesus came to earth to die. This was His purpose all along, and He never shied away from it. If Jesus had lived to old age and simply died “naturally,” He would have failed in His mission. He came to die; nothing else would have sufficed.

Who Killed Jesus?
With this in mind, we can now answer the question, “Who Killed Jesus?” Better yet, without any commentary or analysis, let’s hear how Jesus Himself answered this question (italics added).

In Mark 10:45, He plainly asserts: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  

In John 12:24, 27, He explains: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. … Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.”

And in the clearest reply as to “Who Killed Jesus,” the Lord Himself proclaims in John 10:17-18: “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

So, who killed Jesus? No human entity took Jesus’ life. It was Jesus’ will, desire, and purpose to die for the sins of humanity, and He utilized the sinful and flawed mechanisms of this imperfect world to accomplish His purpose.

Indeed, no human being took Jesus’ life; rather, as He avows: “I lay it down of my own accord.”

May God give us the humility to fall on our faces over this incomprehensible truth, and may we be found faithful in sharing this glorious reality with a lost and dying world!