Who Is Responsible For The Death of Christ?
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
The court will come to order. The purpose of the case we are trying before the court is to find out who is responsible for the death of Jesus Christ the Lord. A variety of different witnesses have submitted written affidavits. We will consider these testimonies and you the jury must come to a verdict. Letís move on to the first witness.
There is an outcry today from some sectors of Judaism because some have said that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. The question must be asked, is there any evidence that this is the case? Letís hear the testimony.
Consider the testimony of Mark. We will see what he has to say that relates to the responsibility of the Jews concerning the death of Christ?
Turn to the words Mark has recorded for us in his Gospel. You will see in Marks written testimony after Christ has thrown out the money changers, the Jewish leadership (the Scribes who interpreted the Law and the Chief Priests) wanted to kill Jesus. Letís hear it in Markís own words -- Mark 11:18 "And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine."
Is there anybody who can collaborate the testimony of Mark? Ah yes, there is Dr. Luke. Letís see what he has to say -- Luke 19:47 "And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him." I remind you that the context of these words are the same as they were in Mark; the cleansing of the temple.
Now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, there are those who will claim that destroy may not mean to kill. However the Greek word apollumi (ap-ol'-loo-mee), when it refers to a person, means to put to death. The Jewish leaders were bent on killing Jesus!
I would also present to you that this was not the only incident where the Jewish leaders were looking for ways to kill Jesus. I call the Apostle John to testify. Let us hear his words -- John 5:16-18 "And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. 17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." The Jews conspired to put Jesus to death!
John 11:47-53 "Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death." (See also Matthew 26:3-4).
I submit to you, the jury, that the Jewish leaders were intent on killing Jesus. They schemed, they planned and they were just waiting for the opportunity to kill him or have him killed.
The opportunity presented itself when Judas Iscariot approaches the Jewish leaders and offers to betray Christ for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14-16). The Jewish leaders were glad for opportunity to apprehend Christ (Mark 14:11). The Chief priests and Elders organized a large armed group of men, and Judas lead them to Jesus, and they "took him" (Matthew 26:47-50). The point of this testimony is to show that the capture of Jesus Christ was orchestrated by Jewish national leaders in cooperation with a turncoat Jewish disciple of Christ.
The next testimony that I will introduce to prove Jewish culpability in the death of Christ is the account of a near riot. Letís read the Mark 15:1, 6-14. Note particularly verse 11. The Jewish leaders incited the people to call for the crucifixion of Jesus.
There is another parallel passage in which the Jewish leaders even take responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ. Matthew 27:22-25 "Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children."
There is one last testimony that I want to introduce as evidence that the Jews were culpable. It is from two sermons by the Apostle Peter. Peter says, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:" Acts 2:22-23
Acts 3:12-15 "And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses." (see Acts 4:10-12)
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury: I submit to you that the Jews of Jesusí day were responsible in part for the death of Jesus Christ. However, that does NOT give anyone a right to persecute Jewish people.
You will note that I said the Jews were responsible "in part," but not wholly! I will now introduce evidence that others were culpable as well.
I submit to you that provincial Roman Governor, Pontus Pilate and his soldiers were responsible for the death of Jesus Christ. First, I can prove that Pilate knew that Christ was innocent. Both Matthew and Mark record that he knew that "envy" (or jealousy) was the motivation behind the Jews arresting Jesus, turning Him over to the Roman authorities and calling for his crucifixion. (Matthew 27:18 "For he knew that for envy they had delivered him." Mark 15:10 "For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.")
Even Pilateís wife warned him about the innocence of Christ (Matthew 27:19). Pilate himself declared "I find no fault in him" (John 19:4). I submit to you that the Governor could have released Jesus, nd, had intentions, for a brief time, to do just that, until political pressure was applied (John 19:10-12). He caved in to the political pressure and gave orders for the crucifixion to take place (John 19:6-15). While he "washed his hands" of the whole matter, it was Pilate who gave permission for Christ to be put to death when he knew he was innocent (Matthew 27:24).
I submit to the jury that Pilate and the Romans shared responsibility for the death of Jesus Christ. However, there is one more point that I would like to make in my presentation. It is thisÖ
Paul testifies, "ÖChrist died for our sins according to the scriptures;" 1 Corinthians 15:3 He further says Christ "was delivered for our offencesÖ" Romans 4:25. And in Galatians 3:13 he says, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:"
Next, Peter testifies: 1 Peter 2:24 "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed."
1 Peter 3:18 "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:"
If you are wondering who is a sinner, the answer is -- Romans 3:23-26 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus."
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury: I submit to you that
the Jews were responsible for the death of Christ. Pilate and the Romans
were responsible for the death of Christ. And, you and I are likewise
responsible for the death of Christ. I would also state for the record
that Christ could have stopped His death from taking place but did not
(John 10:17-18). He could have called the heavenly angels to come and
deliver Him but He did not (Matthew 26:53). Why? Because was on a mission
to pay for our sins and offer salvation to all who would believe (1 John