#3 Who Killed Jesus?
By D. B. Martin
Introduction: The question most asked in the media about The Passion of the Christ movie is, “Who killed Jesus?” This is probably because of its alleged anti-Semitism. Jews say the movie blames them for killing Jesus. Mel Gibson denies that, and I agree; but the question still remains, who did kill Jesus? Here are some possible answers: (1) Judas Iscariot, (2) the Jewish priests of the Sanhedrin, (3) Pilate, the Roman Governor, (4) King Herod Antipas, (5) the Roman soldiers, (6) the mob of Jews shouting “Crucify Him”, (7) the sins of all the people in the world, and (8) God the Father. All of the above are implicated in the death of Jesus but who, indeed, did it?
The Prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. In our series, “In the Shadow of the Cross,” we come to Gethsemane. That’s where the “Passion” movie began and where we will begin our search for the answer to the above question. The prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane gives helpful evidence.
“And He [Jesus] went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
The larger passage (Matt. 26:36-45) tells us Jesus begged His Father three times to remove the “cup.” Hebrews 5:7, referring to Gethsemane, says Jesus “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death.” At the end of His prayer, however, Jesus yields to the will of His Father, “…nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).
My paraphrase of this prayer is, “Father, if there is any other way to save the people of the world, please do it that way, but if this is the only way, I’ll do it.” Apparently there was no other way, so Jesus took the cup.
What Was in the Cup in Gethsemane? Whatever it was caused Jesus to be “…struck with terror and amazement and deeply troubled and depressed” (Mark 14:33 Amplified). The contents of that cup caused Jesus, the Son of God, to recoil in terror and almost miss the most important appointment of His ministry.
The context makes clear that it was not a literal cup. Jesus mentions the “cup” earlier, speaking to James and John. He asked them, “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of,...” They answered, “We are able.” Jesus replied, “Ye shall drink indeed of my cup,...” (Matthew 20:22-23). This seems to refer to a symbolic cup that includes suffering and death. That is also indicated in John 18:11 when Jesus said, “…the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it.”
However, there is strong implication that the cup that Jesus drank included far more than what the apostles drank. Jesus would not be afraid of death, as He knew it would only return Him to Heaven. Would even the mocking, the scourging, the thorn crown, and the cross, cause such revulsion in Jesus? There must have been more than that. I believe this cup included more than the physical sufferings of Jesus. It included all the sins of the world, including yours and mine, combined into one indescribably bitter poison. Consider all the murders, adulteries, rapes, all other sex sins, lies, greed, robberies, cursing, blasphemy, gossip, hate, jealousy, etc. Can you imagine how offensive that would be to the sinless Son of God?
We listed in the introduction, “(7) the sins of all the people in the world,” with those implicated in the death of Jesus. For all who want to find someone to blame for the death of Jesus, just look in the mirror, and I will do the same. It was your sins and mine that killed Him. In a sense, I crucified Jesus and so did you. However, this answers the question of why Jesus had to die as He did, and not primarily who killed Him.
God the Father Killed Jesus. You may be surprised to hear that, but look at these bible passages: “…the Lord hath laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). I think this means the Father gathered all the “iniquities” [sins] of the world and laid them on Jesus. When did that happen? Could it have been in Gethsemane in that symbolic cup? Luke described Jesus in Gethsemane, “And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood flling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). What else would cause that kind of trauma in Gethsemane? That cup alone could have killed Jesus in the garden had not “…there appeared an angel unto Him from Heaven, strengthening Him” (Luke 23:43). The spiritual suffering of Jesus was far worse than the physical suffering, however, God wanted us to also see His physical suffering on the cross.
Isaiah continues, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him [Jesus]; he hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,...”(Isaiah 53:10). Not that the Father got sadistic pleasure out of killing Jesus, but that it pleased or satisfied His justice, allowing Him to redeem a lost world. The next verse clarifies this: “He [the Father] shall see of the travail his [Jesus’] soul and be satisfied;”
Paul says, “For he [God] hath made him [Christ], who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21). When Jesus took the cup, all the sins of the world were placed in His body. There was so much of our sin in Him that it could be well said that God made Him to “be sin for us.” Peter says Jesus “…bore our sins in his own body on the tree,...” (1 Peter 2:24).
Remember when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 22)? Abraham had to tie Isaac on the altar and he was ready to use the knife to sacrifice his son, but God provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice. Abraham typifies God the Father, while Isaac typifies Jesus. God only asked Abraham to do what He had already planned to do in sacrificing His own Son Jesus as “…the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
Conclusion: So God the Father killed Jesus. You may be saying, “So what?” Why is that so significant? Here’s why. In Gethsemane, God the Father had a choice. He could save His Son, Jesus, from indescribable suffering, or He could save us. He clearly chose to sacrifice His Son to save us. He didn’t just allow it. He did it. Here is the inescapable conclusion: God loved us more than He loved His Son. The wonder of it all is that in our redemption, He added multitudes of sons and daughters to His family forever! And that’s where we come in. The Psalmist had a word for that, “Selah!” Awesome! And He has much more to give us.
Paul said it this way, “He that spared not his own son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32)? Because Jesus took the cup of our sins, we can now take the cup of salvation (Psalm 116:13). The cup available to us not only gives us the perfect righteousness of Jesus but David says, “My cup runneth over” (Psalm 23:5c). He was speaking of the cup of abundant life here and eternal life in Heaven. Take that cup today and share it with everyone you can. Amen!
© 2004 D. B. Martin
P. S. The Passion Movie report.
As of March 25th, gross box office sales of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST movie
$302,559,000. It is now 18th in all time domestic movie sales. If it continues,
at the present rate, plus the worldwide distribution and DVD sales, it could
easily surpass the Titanic, now more than $600 million. The exciting thing
about that is not the record, but the number of people in the world that will
hear of Jesus, His cross and resurrection. Take someone to see it this Easter
We also invite you to visit our website at www.maranathalert.org. We have many prophecy articles posted there. Visit our website home page for many prophecy articles and other subjects posted there. For example, 2003 Easter season we posted messages on "The Seven Last Words from the Cross."
Note: “Maranatha” means, “Behold He Is Coming,” an early Christian greeting. “Alert,” reminds us to be ready.
Blessings in Jesus! D.B.
Sign Up for a Maranathalert Email Update!
If you would like to receive an email version of the Maranathalert compiled from news stories and edited by Pastor Martin, please send him an email to request it. Anyone who subscribes may unsubscribe at any time and their names will be removed. None of the email addresses will be sold or shared without your permission.
Do you have questions regarding Bible Prophecy? Feel free to write Pastor Martin for his perspective.