Who Crucified Christ?

A new movie by Mel Gibson has opened some old wounds and stirred passions. The issue, who killed Jesus Christ?

Individuals, not a race of people, did it. The disciples who supported Jesus were Jews. The Scripture makes it clear the common people, the Jewish populace, responded warmly to Him. It was compassionate Jews who buried Him. Some Jews were in part responsible for His death, but it was not the Jews.

Romans, Gentiles (non-Jews), were in the persons of Pilate and his execution squad involved in the physical act. They carried out the execution. Gentiles pinioned Him to the cross.

Jesus was brought before the seventy-one member Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court, at night. Twenty-three was considered a quorum. Here charges were formulated against Him. The first charge was He had said He would restore the temple in three days if it were destroyed. His statement was figurative language referring to His death and resurrection. This was twisted to mean He Himself would destroy the temple. To this charge Jesus did not respond. The law did not compel Him to answer.

The timing not being right, Jesus had repeatedly warned His disciples not to tell anyone He was the Messiah. Evidently in his betrayal of Christ Judas told the authorities. The High Priest asked the ultimate question, “Are you the Messiah?” “No,” would have ended the trial. His, “yes,” sealed His death warrant.

When morning came the chief priest and elders took Jesus to the Roman governor, Pilate. They knew only the Roman governor could pronounce a sentence of death. They also knew Pilate could care less about their religious charges. They brought three new false charges: He was a revolutionary, incited the people not to pay taxes, and claiming to be a king. As procurator, Pilate was answerable to Caesar. Pilate, a Gentile, vacillated, tried to shift the blame, and eventually declared himself innocent of the blood of Jesus. Finally, he pronounced the death sentence. His death squad carried out the sentence of crucifixion.

The charges were brought by some religious leaders who were Jews. The actual act of execution was performed by some Romans who were Gentiles. There were some Jews as well as Romans who supported Him. The Roman centurion, the chief executor, at the cross said, “Surely, this was the Son of God.”

It was not the Jews or the Romans who killed Jesus. It was some Jews and some Romans who partnered in His execution.

Jewish law of the era stated “…in the trial of life, if thou sinnest, the blood of the accused and the blood of his seed unto the end of time shall be imputed unto thee.” Even this does not apply to an entire race but rather to the persons involved.

Now to confess who was responsible. I was. Those who believe the New Testament consider Him to have died for each of us. My spiritual condition caused His death.

If it was as Scripture teaches that He died for “all mankind” we each are as responsible as the persons who brought the charges and those who drove the spikes. The responsible race is the human race. For responsive members of that race He prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”