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.