The previous post referred to the fact that Jesus appears to be the elephant in the room for Jewish people. They struggle with what to do with the man and Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. To admit that he is Messiah is to be forced to confront 2,000 years of regret and loss. Truly, a tragedy of eternal proportions.
However, this tragedy is exacerbated by the anti-Semitic and anti-Christian lie that has been perpetuated since the days of Augustine and John Chrysostom and continues even today that the Jewish people are responsible for the death of Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. And “people” from a cultic church in Kansas holding signs such as the one to the left will not make this lie a reality. Therefore, this post will seek to answer once and for all both the physical, moral, and spiritual aspect of the ultimate “elephant in the room” question — who killed Jesus?
Physical Aspect of the Question
A few days ago I was handed an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) booklet entitled Confronting Anti-Semitism. The booklet does a commendable job of answering the physical aspect of the question, while misunderstanding one moral aspect of the issue, which will be answered later in this post.
The ADL points out accurately that crucifixion was a Roman invention intended for victims of the Roman empire and was carried out by Roman soldiers. It was Roman soldiers who flogged Jesus. It was Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross. It was Roman soldiers who physically crucified the Jewish carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. And regardless of the lies told by racists and false Christians, the truth is the physical action of crucifixion was done by soldiers loyal to the Emperor of Rome.
Moral Aspect of the Question
The ADL’s booklet sought to answer a very delicate question in a very careful way. I understand their reticence and appreciate their willingness to even broach the “elephant” question. However, to assert that Jesus did not commit a capital crime according to Jewish law is not quite correct.
For if Jesus was/is not the Messiah than His claims of being not only Messiah but also God (John 8:58; 10:30-31; Matthew 26:63-66; Mark 14:61-64) was to commit blasphemy and thereby be worthy of death. And if He was/is not Messiah and God, then my eternal destiny is dark and foreboding. However, and as I asked an anti-missionary in Bensonhurst Park nearly a decade ago, “What if He is?” And I praise my Jesus at the right hand of the Father, that He is my hope and eternity!
Please read this paragraph carefully before reacting … The members of the Sanhedrin who leveled the charge of blasphemy against Jesus were not wrong in their defense of Judaism. They were wrong in not recognizing the Messiah who stood before them. They were defending their faith, which is the moral and right action to take. They were just incorrect in what they were defending.
We as believers in the 21st century cannot hold their misguided but moral actions against them because they were looking for the Messiah and wanting the Messiah. They simply did not realize that they were as the old Johnny Paycheck song warbles, “looking in all the wrong places.” They were wanting a physical Messiah (Messiah ben David) who would overthrow the Romans but forgetting that He first had to come as the suffering servant to gain atonement for humanity’s sins (Isaiah 52:11-53:12).
Spiritual Aspect of the Question
This blog post finally finishes with the most difficult question of them all as it relates to who killed Jesus … who killed Jesus spiritually? Because is this not the crux of the question? The physical answer of the question is obvious except to the most intellectually dense members of the population. The moral answer is more refined and esoteric but is still easily answered. It is the spiritual answer that clinches the stomachs of anyone and everyone who has really sought to answer the question.
Yes, there are the verses in Matthew 27:25 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 that are both misinterpreted (click here for a good apologetic response for Matthew 27:25 and Paul’s Conundrum analyzes the Thessalonians passage in depth) and misapplied for nefarious and non-Christian purposes. However, I want to provide the answer to this aspect of the question with the very words of Jesus from John 10:14-18:
14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes 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 command I have received from My Father.”
As we can see, no one killed Jesus. He lay His own life down so that we all could have eternal life through and with Him. No one killed Jesus because He went to the cross voluntarily (Luke 22:39-46). No one killed Jesus because He could have stopped it at any time (Matthew 26:51-54) but chose to die as the perfect and eternal sacrificial atonement so that we could approach the throne of God (Hebrews 4:14-16). No one killed Jesus because He forgave us all and died so that we might live (Luke 23:34).
So … go forth and share the Good News of the Gospel with His brothers and sisters. Do not be afraid of the “elephant in the room” question because you have the truth of the greatest answer in the world! Shalom.
*Permission for the photograph to be used was granted by the photographer, James Drawbond.
**Traditionally, this blog has provided links to the references for further education. However, this “church” in Kansas does not deserve the publicity and will not receive it on the blog.