About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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The Passion Of The Christ - Who Really Killed Jesus

The talk of the movie industry lately has been Mel Gibson's movie entitled "The Passion Of The Christ". Part of the controversy surrounds a perceived anti-Semitic bios in the movie. The historic account of Jesusí death can be found in the Bible, which by any standard of historical reasoning does give an accurate portrayal of this event. Therefore we need to ask what the Bible says about this event, and who it claims killed Jesus?

Not many days after Jesus was killed, the Apostle Peter on a few occasions had a chance to comment on this subject. It is quite interesting and relevant to see what he had to say since he was an eye witness .

"Peter stood up and ... addressed the crowd, 'you fellow Jews' ... " (Acts 2:14) Note that Peter is addressing his remarks to Jews. He continues, "Men of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God ... this man (Jesus) was handed over to you by God's set purposes and foreknowledge, and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death". (Acts 2:22-23) In Peter's thinking it is clear that certain Jews, with the help of wicked men (Roman soldiers) put Jesus to death. We must also note that Peter believed that the death of Jesus was part of "God's purpose and foreknowledge". I will come back to this point.

Again in Acts 3:13 Ė 14 Peter makes another similar statement. He says, "Men of Israel ... you handed Him (Jesus) over to be killed ... you killed the author of life". Peter also notes in Acts 3:13 that these Jewish people "disowned Him before Pilate, though he had decided to let Him go".

Peter comments on this subject again in Acts 4:10. He says, "then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified..." It is clear by these statements who Peter thought was involved in the death of Jesus.  

These are the historical facts. Certain Jews, not all, wanted Jesus dead. They could not kill Him legally. They brought Him to Pilate who had the authority to execute criminals. Pilate found no fault with Jesus and did not want to execute Him but was persuaded to do so by the Jewish leadership. This is the historical record and this is what Peter concurs to. 

Peter believed that there was more to Jesus' death than simply being killed by certain Jews and the Roman soldiers. Remember, he said, "I know that you (Jews) acted in ignorance ... but this is how God fulfilled what He had foretold..." (Acts 3:17-18) Peter believed that God Himself was involved in the death of Jesus.

How could God be involved in killing His own Son? Isaiah 53:10 says that "it was the Lord's will to crush Him (Jesus) and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life a guilt offering..." We can see by this prophecy of Isaiah that God Himself needed to see Jesus die. Why? Because by Jesusí sacrificial death, He "would justify many". (Isaiah 53:11) To be justified is the process by which God views us as perfectly right, just as He Himself is perfectly right in all things.

God was justly angry at mankind for who he became, and therefore had to punish him. A perfectly just God could do nothing else, or else He would not be just. Yet God loved us and did not desire to punish us. So God demonstrated His love towards us by punishing Jesus instead. This punishment bestowed on Jesus satisfied Godís sense justice, resulting in God's anger being turned away from us.  Thus, God's justice and love met together on the cross.  For those of us who accept this as truth, God views us as perfectly right, even though we are far from such a state.

Many find it hard to believe that God could ever be angry, and even angry enough to kill His own Son. Yet this is the Biblical record. If you chose not to accept this as factual, then you chose not to accept the Biblical account That is your prerogative. Yet for those of us who do chose to accept the Biblical account, we can only be eternally grateful.

The historical events surrounding the death of Jesus should be interpreted in the light of who really killed Jesus, and that was God Himself. With this in mind, there is no anti-Semitic thinking in the historical record, nor should we view any accurate portrayal of this event as anti-Semitic. God Himself ultimately put Jesus to death.


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