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The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Betrayal, Trial, and Death of Jesus

Don Stewart :: Who Was Responsible for the Death of Jesus?

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Who Was Responsible for the Death of Jesus?

The Betrayal, Trial, and Death of Jesus – Question 9

There is an age-old question concerning the responsibility for Jesus’ death. Who is to blame for the terrible crime of executing Jesus? Actually there are a number of different people to blame. They are as follows.

1. The Jewish Religious Rulers Were Responsible

The Jewish religious rulers certainly deserve their share of the blame. They hated Jesus without any just, or righteous, cause. Their hatred caused them to arrest Jesus, find false witnesses at His trial, and then condemn him as guilty. They also brought false charges against Him in front of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. We read,

Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.” (Luke 23:1, 2 NRSV)

These religious leaders undoubtedly had their share of responsibility. They are the ones who instigated the entire process.

2. The Jewish People Were Responsible

The Jewish people were also responsible for Jesus’ death. John wrote about the lack of acceptance by His own people when He came into the world:

He came into his own world, but his own nation did not welcome him. (John 1:11 CEV)

The promised Messiah was rejected by those who should have received Him.

In another place, Jesus said the people of the city of Jerusalem were responsible for rejecting Him. He said the following concerning it:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. (Matthew 23:37 NLT)

The people from this Holy City did not accept the One whom they had been waiting for.

At His trial before Pontius Pilate, the crowd shouted to crucify Jesus. Matthew records their response to the attempt of Pilate to release Him:

But the chief priests and leaders persuaded the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas and the execution of Jesus. The governor asked them, “Which of the two do you want me to free for you?” They said, “Barabbas.” Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with Jesus, who is called Christ?” “He should be crucified!” they all said. Pilate asked, “Why? What has he done wrong?” But they began to shout loudly, “He should be crucified!” (Matthew 27:20-23 God’s Word)

The people of the Jewish nation had their own share of responsibility. They rejected Jesus, and Jesus, in turn, rejected them.

3. Pontius Pilate Was Responsible

Pontius Pilate has his share of the blame in the death of Jesus Christ. As he told Jesus, he had the authority to release Him or crucify Him. John wrote,

Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” (John 19:8-10 NKJV)

Pilate did not accept the Sanhedrin’s verdict of Jesus being guilty of any crime. To the contrary, Pilate testified to his innocence. John writes,

Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” (John 19:4 NRSV)

Still, he gave the command for Jesus to be executed. John records the decision made by this weak politician:

Then Pilate gave Jesus to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led him away. (John 19:16 NLT)

Pilate was unquestionably responsible to some degree, for Jesus’ death. He knew of Jesus’ innocence yet he still ordered His death.

4. The Entire Human Race Was Responsible

Ultimately, it was the entire human race that is responsible for Jesus’ death on the cross. The penalty for the sins of all of us was placed upon Jesus when He was on Calvary’s cross. The Apostle Paul wrote,

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT)

While there was the immediate blame with the Jewish religious rulers and Pontius Pilate the real blame should be placed where it deserves to be placed—all of us. It was for our sins that caused Jesus to die on Calvary’s cross.

Summary – Question 9
What Was Responsible for the Death of Jesus?

The death of Jesus was a horrible crime. Blame can be rightly be placed upon a number of people as well as individuals. For one thing, the Jewish religious leaders have their share of the blame. For a number of years they wanted Jesus dead. They hated Him and condemned Him without any righteous reason whatsoever.

The Jewish people were to blame as well. They rejected His claim to be the Messiah though Jesus had the necessary credentials and provided the proper evidence. Pontius Pilate also deserves blame. He ordered Jesus executed after declaring Him innocent of all charges. He was not guiltless.

However the blame has to be ultimately placed on the entire human race. It was for our sins that Jesus went to His death on Calvary’s cross. Therefore, all of us were ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.

What Was the Chronology of the Events Surrounding the Death of Christ? ← Prior Section
The Life of Christ (Introduction) Next Section →
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