For centuries there has been debate over the question of who should be held responsible for the death of Jesus. Some point the finger at the Roman government. Crucifixion was after all a Roman method of execution, and the Romans oversaw all crucifixions, including Jesus’. On the other hand, many point the finger at the Jews who instigated the prosecution of Jesus and created the mob that convinced Roman governor Pilate to allow the crucifixion. In 2011, the pope chimed in on the debate stating that those most responsible for the death of Jesus were, “the temple aristocracy and supporters of the rebel Barabbas.”
Every one of these answers is wrong. Scripture clearly answers the question of who is responsible for the death of Jesus. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21). And He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live in righteousness” (1 Pet 2:24). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
Those who are responsible for Jesus’ death are not those who oversaw His sham of a trial, who drove the nails in His hands, or placed the crown of thorns on His head. Jesus could have overcome every angry Jew and bloodthirsty Roman in the blink of an eye. Who killed Jesus? I did because I sinned. You did because you sinned.
Some might wonder, “But Jesus died before I was even born…there have been lots of other sinners too…how am I responsible?” Consider this: if no one else on the earth ever sinned, I know that I have. Those verses don’t give a threshold of sinners that must be met before Jesus would have died. They simply say that God loved man enough to give His Son to die for him. The fact that there have been a lot of sinners in the world before or after me has no bearing on the fact that Jesus died for my sins. If I were the only sinner in the world, Jesus would have still died for me.
Who killed Jesus? We did. First, this is thought should be shameful to us. Those were our sins He bore on the cross. He died on our behalf. How can we imagine that to go on sinning is not a big deal? But second, this thought should compel unimaginable gratitude. When we avail ourselves of God’s forgiveness, made possible through the death of Jesus, God can wash us white as snow. Is it too much to ask to serve Jesus all the days of our blood-bought lives?