Responsibility…. that is what I am after. Who’s to blame, who can we fault, who might we charge for Christ’s bloody death? Certainly, there were a lot of participators. But, who is ultimately responsible for the death of the Son God, Jesus Christ? Was it Judas, Pilate, the Roman soldiers, or….?
Walk with me, it is worth the journey because the answer to the question will lead us to Gospel glory.
The Jewish Leaders
Certainly we should tag the death of Christ on the Jewish leaders of the day. After all, they were the ones who brought Jesus to trial and accused him of his blasphemous claims. They are to be blamed for inciting the crowds, and demanding his death.
Peter says as much after Pentecost:
13…..the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him….
15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.
Jesus did not rise through the ranks. Nor did he carry the proper, acceptable credentials. And yet, he came with an authority and made claims that they were unwilling to accept. He hung out with the “untouchables” while dismissing their Pharisaical teachings. Jesus simply did not fit into their box of what a Savior/ Messiah was to be. And so they demanded that he be stopped. After all, some were being persuaded and were following him. They thought, the sooner the better, we must bring an end to this man!
The Roman Soldiers
Perhaps we should pin the death of Jesus on the Roman soldiers. After all, they were the ones who physically carried out Christ’s death. They scourged him and nailed him to the cross. It was the Romans soldiers’ sword that was driven through his side. The Romans knew how to deliver torture that lead to death. They were trained not only in the task of crucifixion, but also the mockery that came with it. They were crucifying, killing, professionals!
But…. wasn’t Pilate the one who handed him over to those soldiers? John 19:16-18 tells us, yes! “Pilate handed him over to be crucified….” Pilate was a man of power, he could have had Jesus released. Even his wife pleaded with him to have nothing to do with Jesus (Matt 27:19). Three times over he says to the angry crowd that he found no guilt in Jesus. And yet, the crowd shouted all the more, “crucify him!”. It seems that Pilate desired to let him go, but how would this angry crowd react to his release? Eventually, Pilate caved to their cries. He washed his hands of it (Matt 27:24), and delivered Jesus over to them, to be crucified.
Certainly, Judas is to be blamed! Wasn’t he the one to betray Jesus? If it was not for him, wouldn’t Jesus have lived? “Judas sold out”, we say. He went to the Jewish leaders and asked, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” The deal was made it what seems like a dark, back alley. He was bought for 30 silver coins. Judas took the cash. Jesus had said that it is not possible to serve God AND money, Judas took the money.
You And I
Sadly, if I am not careful, I begin to look at all the players and begin to blame each one of them. But caution is needed! Friends, did not each of our sins put Jesus on the cross? He died for MY sins. Therefore, MY sins put him there! Wrap your heads around this truth. You and I are not spectators at the cross, we are participators! While we would like to excuse ourselves from all responsibility, we simply cannot do so. John Stott in his excellent book, Cross of Christ says it best.
“We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands. Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).”
When we think about who is responsible, we cannot ignore Christ’s own words and actions. While there may be many players, ultimately, Christ laid down his life. He did not have to! But, he willingly went to the cross – he did so doing his Father’s will.
“I lay down my life… no one takes it from me,
I lay it down on my OWN accord…”
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…. – Jn 3:16
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…. – Eph 5:2
….this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. – Acts 2:23
As we approach Good Friday and Easter, reflect with me on what it means that Christ willingly laid down His life to do the Father’s will. It was the Father’s will that Christ would die! Does that not move you? Or, have we become so familiar and even calloused with the glory of these words?
I close this post by dropping some lyrics into your head that we might sing and reflect on gospel glories today:
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.
Stuart TownendCopyright © 1995 Thankyou Music (Adm. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. UK & Europe, adm. by Integrity Music, part of the David C Cook family, firstname.lastname@example.org)