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Who Killed Jesus? A Good Friday Meditation (Sam Storms)

Who was responsible for the death of Jesus? Who was responsible for the nails that tore into his flesh and for the crown of thorns that pierced his brow? Who was responsible for the humiliation and ridicule to which he was subjected? Who killed Jesus?

One way to answer this question is by pointing the finger at either the historical or the heavenly cause of his death. Looking at his death from a purely historical perspective one might conclude that the Jewish religious leaders, in cahoots with Herod and Pontius Pilate, killed Jesus. There is certainly support for this in such texts as 1 Thess. 2:13-16; Acts 2:23; 4:27; Mt. 21:33-46; 1 Cor. 2:8.

Looking at his death from a heavenly perspective, one might conclude that God the Father killed Jesus. Although that sounds strange to some, carefully read Isaiah 53. There we are told that the Messiah would be “smitten of God” (v. 4). It is “the Lord” who “has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (v. 6). Perhaps the most startling statement of all is found in v. 10 where we read: “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief.”

But there is yet another answer to the question, “Who killed Jesus?” Charles Spurgeon explains:

“There was a day, as I took my walks abroad, when I came hard-by a spot forever engraven upon my memory, for there I saw this Friend, my best, my only Friend, murdered. I stooped down in sad affright, and looked at him. I saw that his hands had been pierced with rough nails, and his feet had been rent in the same way. There was misery in his dead countenance so terrible that I scarcely dared to look upon it. His body was emaciated with hunger, his back was red with bloody scourges, and his brow had a circle of wounds about it: clearly could one see that these had been pierced by thorns.

I shuddered, for I had known this friend full well. He never had a fault; he was the purest of pure, the holiest of the holy. Who could have injured him? For he never injured any man; all his life long he ‘went about doing good;’ he had healed the sick, he had fed the hungry, he had raised the dead. For which of these works did they kill him? He had never breathed out anything else but love; and as I looked into the poor sorrowful face, so full of agony, and yet so full of love, I wondered who could have been a wretch so vile as to pierce hands like his. I said within myself, ‘Where can these traitors live? Who are these that could have smitten such a One as this?’ Had they murdered an oppressor, we might have forgiven them. Had they slain one who had indulged in vice or villainy, it might have been his desert. Had it been a murderer and a rebel, or one who had committed sedition, we would have said, ‘Bury his corpse; justice has at last given him his due.’ But when thou wast slain, my best, my only beloved, where lodged the traitors? Let me seize them, and they shall be put to death. If there be torments that I can devise, surely they shall endure them all. Oh! What jealousy, what revenge I felt! If I might but find these murderers, what would I not do with them!

And as I looked upon that corpse, I heard a footstep, and wondered where it was. I listened, and I clearly perceived that the murderer was close at hand. It was dark, and I groped about to find him. I found that, somehow or other, wherever I put out my hand, I could not meet with him, for he was nearer to me than my hand would go. At last I put my hand upon my breast. ‘I have thee now,’ said I; for lo! he was in my own heart! The murderer was hiding within my own bosom, dwelling in the recesses of my inmost soul. Ah! Then I wept indeed, that I, in the very presence of my murdered Master, should be harbouring the murderer, and I felt myself most guilty while I bowed over His corpse, and sang that plaintive hymn:

“‘Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins,
His chief tormentors were;
Each of my crimes became a nail,
And unbelief the spear.”

My sins were the scourges which lacerated those blessed shoulders, and crowned with thorns those bleeding brows. My sins cried, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ and laid the cross upon his gracious shoulders. His being led forth to die is sorrow enough for one eternity; but my having been his murderer is more, infinitely more grief, than one poor fountain of tears can express.”

Who killed Jesus? I did. You did. We all did.

9 Responses to “Who Killed Jesus? A Good Friday Meditation (Sam Storms)”

  1. Jesus also said he had the authority to lay down his life (John 10:17-18). But maybe this ties in to the Isaiah 53 passage?

  2. Thanks for the insight…never thought of it like this, but true.

  3. ‘Crucify him! Crucify him,how little do we know on the deal in heaven, when mankind was talked about by god, then christ stood up, and put himself forward as wonderful savour, for his bride, what a joyful time that gods whole plan will take shape, and we had nothing but nothing to add to it, meaning the true church, not the popes false,one or the cults, , just us who fall on our knees and say , all your work lord, not of me, oh what a day when his bride will see him as he is, wonderful, and holy, and true, god bless ,from scotland, pray this believer gets a job soon, and sam, great post, in bringing our thinking to we are sinners and only a love from god , that beyond words could stop us from the road to hell, again god bless

  4. Read this post early this morning, and then early this afternoon my Uncle, who is a missionary in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, said to my 5 year old “your right, they killed Jesus, they put Him on the cross.” Brilliant post Dr. Storms. Do you think it is the lack of teaching this correlation (our sin = nessessity of Christ’s death), the genuine forgetfullness of people about the correlation, or our rebellion that makes us want to naturally blame others, or a combination? Thanks for all your contributions to Credo House.

    Side comical note,
    I assume your last “We all killed him” statement, by “we” you meant “us the Elect” right? Otherwise that would put a hole in our “L” in TULIP? Because Christ wouldn’t have had to die if only the non-elect put him to death. Also great “invitaion to calvinism” podcasts. Love them all.

  5. I’ve heard this position before and am not particularly adverse to it,it is much more accurate than the “Jews” killed Christ!
    And I am no theologian,but where is the sovereignty of the Father in this?God could have chose another plan for the redemption of man,but He chose to slay His “Lamb” to pay the price man could not pay. My sins were indeed “bore there” on the cross at calvery and my “iniquities layed on Him”but it was the Father who planned this all (and I am grateful) praise and glory to Him alone. Man has no part in the plan of redemption, it is all God in Christ, that He might be allin all. We can only yield. And though I do understand this might really be what people are saying in the argument that “we” killed Him, the devil is in the details and we must never usurp the sovereignty of our almighty God. Thank-you Credo for this site it has been a blessing.

  6. As somebody from a previously Anglican, now Orthodox perspective… I just don’t agree that I killed Jesus or you killed Jesus, or God the Father killed Jesus. Wanting to assign blame, even to oneself for the Passion of our Lord is misguided and does a disservice to those suffering under oppression, because Jesus came to heal them too. Rather, as somebody with an Eastern POV, I see humanity as on the Cross with Christ. None of us choose to come into this sin-filled world and God the Father is not angry at any of us for being born into it. God doesn’t find us “guilty” at all for our fallen natures. But we’ve all been given an oppurtunity, like the thieves on the cross with Christ, to either consider him irrelevent or mock him, or like the good thief, to say to him “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

  7. @Daedelus

    From a reformed view, not all of us are given opportunity to say yes to Christ. What abou the tribes in the Amazon that are under govt. Protection and cannot be told, never have heard or will hear of Christ? Roman’s 8:1 is pretty clear that only those that are in Christ will be saved from condemnation.
    You are right in saying that that none of us chose to come into a sin-fallen world, but why Christ chose you and me instead of those people in the Amazon is a mystery to us, but not to Him, he knows why.

  8. Theodore A. Jones December 13, 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Well Storms with that admission and this fact of God’s oath to Him:
    “And for Your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.” For a man to save himself from God’s wrath Storms, it is necessary to give God a direct account regarding that the crucifixion of Jesus is an accountable sin for each man. And the confession of “Oh God I am so happy and glad Jesus died in my place” ain’t gonna cut it Sammy. For there is no possibility that you are outside of the classification of each man,too. Which is what Jesus meant when he said:
    “When He comes He will convict the world of guilt in regard to (the) sin” of crucifying the only begotten son of the Living God. The term, each man,too, does not allow for any exceptions.

  9. I question sentimentality. First, if we all put Christ on the cross, then Christ died for all sinners, and that is the false gospel.

    Second, If we all are supposed to feel bad about crucifying Christ, then is the Triune God also to apologise? May it never be! Acts 2:23-24, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.”

    The Bible teaches that God’s sovereignty does not eliminate the accountability of sinners. Certain specific lawless men killed Christ. God and not man determined for whom Christ would die.

    This does not eliminate the accountability of “the lawless men”, even if they were soldiers, or of the “you” Peter is addressing in Acts 2.

    Specific humans 2000 years ago purposed that Christ would die. This means that not all humans purposed that Christ would die. His mother Mary, for example, did not kill or intend to kill Christ.

    We did not ourselves put Christ on the cross, because we are not the imputers. We do not get to decide when and if we put our sins on Christ. We do not get the opportunity to contribute our sins so that then Christ contributes His righteousness. Neither election nor non-election is conditioned on our sins.

    Although believers are commanded to reckon what God has already reckoned, we can never be the original reckoners (imputers).

    The cross is not what condemns. Good news for the elect, the gospel is not what condemns the non-elect.

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