Who Put Jesus on the Cross?

For a lot of people, the celebration of Easter is little more than a time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the business of living, spend some time with family and friends and generally recover enough strength to go on till the next holiday.

While I believe that there is a valid place for the above said things, I think that Easter should be more than just another public holiday, but time to reflect on the essentials of the Christian gospel that Easter commemorates.

Significant to the message of Christianity is that Jesus was tried by the Jewish religious leaders in a kangaroo court, condemned and handed over to the Romans to be crucified. Consequently, down through the years, the question of who put Jesus to death and the particular person who ought to take responsibility for the crime of Deicide has been debated to no end.

Now, the Word of God does not leave us in doubt as to the role Israel's religious leaders played in the death of our Lord; Christ himself foretold it and they plotted it.

Mark  10:32-33
And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death...

From this scripture, we see that Christ foretold how he would die— a delivering over to the religious leaders who will condemn him to death. In confirmation of the words of Jesus, we see the scripture record of the jealousy of these men who felt threatened by Jesus and plotted his death.
(See Matt 26:3-4; Jn11:45-53).

The religious elders and leaders plotted the death of Christ, but the common people are also culpable in his death; for they were the ones who preferred Barabbas, demanded for the crucifixion of Christ, and explicitly took responsibility for his death! (Matt27:20-26)

Because of the role played by first century Jews in the death of Christ, over the ages the whole Jewish nation has had to pay an incalculable price at the hands of their haters for being "Christ-killers". This however is a result of the natural human tendency to fail to take an objective look at all sides of a story and come up with a concise and complete assessment and conclusion.

The Jews were responsible for the death of Christ, but the Romans were involved too! The Romans were the ones who actually beat him, tortured him and finally nailed him to the cross. Although Crucifixion existed before the Romans came into power; (probably originating with the Assyrians and Babylonians) it was used by the Persians and the Greeks and the Phoenicians introduced it to the Romans who perfected it as the preferred way of humiliating and executing a condemned criminal.

The Scriptural account shows that the crucifixion of Jesus was authorized by Pontius Pilate (a Roman Officer); though he knew that Jesus was innocent and was even told by his wife to judge justly in regards to Christ(See Matt27:19), he nevertheless condemned him, authorized his crucifixion and handed him over to be executed by Roman soldiers (Matt27:26-35).

But if Jesus was Deity, and not just a splendid human being that was deified by his disciples but truly God in his essence (Is9:6; Jn1:1-14; Jn8:58-59; Jn10:30-33; 1Tim3:16; Tit2:12-14; 2Pet1:1); then how can human beings put God to death! How can mere mortals put the very essence of immortality to death except by a sovereign will of God himself, he allows himself to be put to death?

The ramifications of such a thought are wide and far reaching, but this is exactly what the Bible says — Jesus did not simply die because evil men plotted his death, arrested him, condemned him as a common criminal and put him to death; instead he gave up his life in obedience to the Will of the Father.

John  10:11, 14-18
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. ... I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.No man 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.

There is an absolute voluntariness to the death of Christ, the eternal son in perfect conformity to the will of the Father, gave himself up to be crucified on the cross; this wasn't a forced thing or an exacted offering so to speak but voluntary. One would however ask why the Father needed the son to give his life, for the scriptures repeatedly record that the father gave up Christ the son to death.

John  3:16 
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.

When the Father gave the son because of his love for the world, He didn't just give him to come into the world and heal the sick and raise the dead, He gave him all the way to Calvary. This is confirmed in Psalm 22, where see that it was God who brought the son into the dust of death.

Christ, in his death assumes a twin-role as the counsel of heaven and the consequence of human sinfulness for it was in our place that he died; said another way, the death of Christ was necessitated by our sin and it was in our place that he died. The father gave the son to die that the sins of humanity may be forgiven without God compromising his holiness or his love (See Is53:6-10; Rom5:8).

While it may be easy for us to point fingers of accusation at the religious leaders who plotted Christ's death and handed him over to the Romans, or at the Romans who did the dirty job of putting Christ on the cross, it is also very important for us to realise that it was the sins of you and me that ultimately put Jesus on the cross.

The whole lot of humanity stand condemned under God as sinners both in nature and practice(Rom3:23); we are sinners who sin and are deserving of judgement. But at the cross, the love of God for us was revealed in the giving over of his son as the offering for our sin. The cross— that dark, dreary blight at the centre of human history was not only the greatest display of human sinfulness but also the greatest demonstration of the depths of the grace and mercy and love of God. (Rom5:6-8)

So it is Good Friday today, and we commemorate the crucifixion of our Lord, we need to realise that we are responsible for the death of Christ for there was no way for God to save sinful humanity without Him having to give another in our place. He died for us collectively as a multitude of sinners but that in no way removes from the fact that he died for me personally and he died for you personally and if you or I was the only sinner in the whole wide world, Christ would still have died.

How do you respond to this? As we remember today his crucifixion, how else can we remember his death than to realise it was our death that he died, it was in our place that he went to the cross silent as a sheep being led to the slaughter and it was our sins that put him to death? How else can we respond to this than to thank him for his love and receive the gift of eternal life by turning away from our efforts and trusting him alone for salvation?


  1. Wonderful.
    Praise God for His Love untold

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