I’m going to start with a disclaimer: please stick with me through all of today’s teaching. For some, it may cause great angst in the beginning. For some, you are going to want to pick up rocks to stone me. But understand that if you struggle with this teaching, you need to take it up with the Author! I am simply the messenger. (I say it all light-heartedly, but I do pray that we will study this particular idea with great grace and understanding.)
Here is the key question to today’s study: Who killed Jesus? Physically, there is absolutely no doubt that the Roman soldiers killed Jesus. We could also say both Pilate (a Roman ruler) and Caiaphas (the Jewish high priest at the time) falsely passed judgment upon Jesus. Some would adamantly say that we all killed Jesus because He went to the cross for our sins.
If you espouse any of those answers, you have a strong argument and I believe most of us would say there are strong merits in each of those answers. However, who does the Bible say killed Jesus? Here are a few instances where the Bible speaks clearly about that:
- “…this Man [Jesus]…you [Jews] nailed to a cross…and put Him to death.” (Acts 2:23)
- “…this Jesus whom you [house of Israel] crucified.” (Acts 2:36)
- “…you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and…put to death the Prince of life, the onewhom God raised from the dead…” (Acts 3:14-15)
- “…Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you [Israel] crucified…” (Acts 4:10)
- “…Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.” (Acts 5:30)
- “…the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become…” (Acts 7:52)
- “They [sons of Israel] also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.” (Acts 10:39)
The Apostle Peter, an eyewitness to it all…and a Jew himself…states over and over again in his sermons in Acts that the Jews killed Jesus. But before you pick up rocks with which to stone me, please read a portion of Peter’s sermon on the porches of Solomon’s Portico:
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.”
Notice the very first phrase: “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…” Peter was tying Jesus’ crucifixion back to the Abrahamic Covenant!
- The God of Abraham is the God of Covenant
- The God of Isaac is the God of sacrifice and atonement
- The God of Jacob is the God of transformation
We’re leading to transformation here, but we go through covenant and atonement! Go quickly to the final sentence of that passage: “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.” They did not know what they were doing…and neither did the rulers. Jesus, from the cross, stated:
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Oh, but now it gets really good!
“Brothers—you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles—this message of salvation has been sent to us! The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath. They found no legal reason to execute him, but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway. “When they had done all that the prophecies said about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead!
~Acts 13:26-30 (NLT)
Jesus died as an atonement for our sins, but God raised him from the dead…that’s transformation! However, the Jews did not recognize their Messiah. But, despite that fact, they fulfilled the very thing God wanted from them, the death of Jesus, in order that He might give the resurrection, atonement and transformation! And look who the gift went to: “…you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles…!” The God of the covenant, the God of sacrifice and atonement, and the God of transformation used His people to accomplish His purpose: redemption of the entire world. Jews and Gentiles!
Indeed, through Abraham and his descendants, all the families of the earth will be blessed! (Genesis 12:3)
Who would think of that!?! Divine wisdom…amazing grace! There is no other way of salvation…what an incredible God!
Now, put down those stones…and praise God for the Jews!