Passion of Christ is one of the most controversial movies of all times.
The movie makes evident, in gruesome details, the horrific flagellation and
crucifixion endured by Jesus Christ before His death.
Christians applaud Gibson’s efforts and see the movie as a very useful tool
in enlightening the masses about what Jesus Christ has done to save the
world. On the other hand, Jews, understandably, fear that the movie might
ignite more anti-Semitism and persecution.
Recently, a major network reviewed the events that led to Jesus Christ’s
death, with the help of four Biblical scholars. At the end of the
documentary, the four scholars were asked who they believed had killed
Jesus Christ. The unanimous answer was: “Pilate and the Romans.
really killed Jesus Christ? Different people hold differing views. Some are
firm on the idea that the Jews were primarily responsible. Others insist
that the real culprit was Pontius Pilate. Some may argue that Satan was the
force that inspired the whole scenario. Many Christians would, instead, yell
out: “We did it! Our sins killed Jesus Christ!”
Though all the above
points of view have merit, there is another critical and enlightening
dimension that must be included to fully comprehend who really killed Jesus
Christ. But first let’s analyze the extent to which the main participants
contributed to Jesus Christ’s death.
JEWS KILL JESUS CHRIST?
the centuries, the Jews have been blamed as being the ones who were
responsible for Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Did the Jews really kill Jesus
Christ? No doubt the accusers of Jesus Christ were Jews, but it would be
absurd to point to all the Jews in Judea as being accusers of Jesus Christ.
Let’s not forget that
“multitudes,” had followed and had seen Jesus
Christ’s miracles over his 3 ½ years of preaching (Matthew 15:29-31). A
great many had been healed from incurable diseases. Some had been brought
back from the dead. A lot of Jews, consequently, felt nothing but gratitude
toward this young miraculous preacher. Many religious leaders, on the other
hand, were filled with envy and bitterness, because of Jesus Christ’s
accusations and condemnations and, according to the Gospels, wished to get
rid of Him in any way they could (Matthew 12:14).
Jesus Christ, on several occasions, called the Pharisees “hypocrites,”
“serpents,” and “brood of vipers,” and He described them as untrustworthy
leaders in front of huge crowds (Matthew 23). Their status within the nation
had been undermined publicly by someone the crowds looked up to and believed
in. This was a great and unacceptable humiliation. Therefore, the Pharisees
were always on the lookout for opportunities that would allow them to accuse
and kill Jesus Christ.
tables of the moneychangers and the seats of the sellers of doves (Matthew
21:12). Both groups, most certainly, would have thirsted for revenge as
well. No doubt, when the opportunity came to get even, they were ready to
make Jesus Christ pay for the affront.
top religious leaders refused to share the limelight with the young man from
Nazareth and feared that He would have become the acclaimed leader of the
people. They, most of all, plotted to find fault in Him, so as to get Him
killed: “Then the chief priests, the scribes, and
the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the High Priest, who was
called Caiphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him"
interesting to note that they were conscious of the fact that the majority
of the people liked Jesus and, therefore, decided not to kill Him
“…during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people” (Matthew 26:
1-5). They knew that the masses had to be handled carefully, to keep them
from turning against them. Thus, their plan had to be skilfully conceived
so as to convince the people that Jesus Christ was a blasphemer and that He
Furthermore, the Gospel of Matthew tells us that when Jesus Christ was
brought to the Sanhedrin, “The Chief Priest, the elders, and the council
sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death” (26: 59-61),
and found several. Finally, Jesus Christ’s own words were found
sufficient to condemn Him to death. Thus, in the morning,
“...all the chief priests and elders of the people
took counsel against Jesus to put him to death” (27:1).
Later, when Pilate tried to release Jesus Christ, they
vehemently insisted that He had to be killed, and the angry crowd that was
present, as well as the priests, finally prevailed (Luke 23: 23).
therefore, present when Pilate asked the crowd if they wanted Jesus freed or
killed? We can safely assume that the aforementioned groups were there.
Others present were probably locals who may have known little about Jesus
Christ and who blindly followed the religious leaders and took their
accusations as trustworthy.
the Jews, therefore, guilty of Jesus Christ’s death? Absolutely not.
Were most of the religious leaders guilty? According to the Gospel
story, they were. They plotted to capture Jesus Christ, they found false
witnesses to inculpate Him, and they refused to believe His word, though His
mighty works supported His claims. The religious leaders wanted Him dead and
did not cease until their aim to have him killed was accomplished.
KILL JESUS CHRIST?
Pilate was the Roman governor of Judea. He was Caesar’s representative and,
as such, was the greatest authority in the land. He had power over life and
death. Thus, in the morning, Jesus Christ was brought to him for the final
verdict. Pilate interviewed Christ and made his power clear to Him:
"Do you not know that I have power to crucify You and
power to release You" (John 19:10).
Afterwards, he shared his
obvious conclusion with the chief priests: “I find no fault in him.” (Luke
he was convinced of Jesus Christ’s innocence, and though he tried to
dissuade the priests and the crowd from their aim to have Christ killed, he
finally relented to the blood-thirsty religious leaders:
"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" (Matthew 27:24). The reason why he surrendered to the will of the
angry crowd is given to us in the Gospel of John: "The Jews insisted, we
have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be
the Son of God. When Pilate heard this,
he was even
more afraid..."(John 19:7-8).
Pilate’s decision was motivated by the fear of a potential revolt.
Therefore, to keep the leaders happy, and to prevent a dangerous rebellion,
he relented to their request.
though Pilate had the power to
prevent Jesus Christ’s death, he chose to sacrifice an innocent man to keep
the peace. Pilate, therefore, was a willing participant and contributed to
was no doubt the major force behind the whole gruesome scenario. He had
attempted to neutralize and destroy Jesus Christ from the start, by tempting
Him and by trying to bring about His spiritual destruction. He continued
tempting Jesus all the way to the end.
doubt, Satan nurtured the spirit of envy and bitterness in the religious
leaders; no doubt he influenced Pilate’s decision to have Him scourged
mercilessly. Without any doubt, Satan moved the unrelenting crowds to
request the death penalty by a gruesome crucifixion. He wanted Jesus Christ
to be traumatized beyond endurance, hoping that He would finally give up and
it may be difficult to know the exact extent of Satan's contribution, he was
there and he was heavily involved.
THE SINS OF THE WORLD
Many theologians would claim that the real culprit for Jesus Christ’s death
were the sins of humanity and man’s need for redemption. Humans sinned from
the beginning and have needed redemption ever since. During the time of
ancient of Israel, God instituted a sacrificial system meant to emphasize
the seriousness of sin and its demand for payment. Capital sins, related to
the transgression of most of the Ten Commandments, could not be paid for by
any sacrifice; the penalty was death. In fact, the Bible is quite dogmatic
about the fact that the penalty of sin is
death, with or without the Law (Romans 6:23).
prevent such dramatic end for all of humanity, there was a need for a
sacrifice that would suffice as payment for all our sins. Only a
Divine Being could be such a sacrifice, as Paul explains in the Book of Hebrews
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not
the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices,
which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach
perfect. 2 For then would
they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified,
would have had no more consciousness of sins.
3 But in those sacrifices
there is a reminder of sins every year.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away
5 Therefore, when He came
into the world, He said: Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt
offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said,
‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me —
To do Your will, O God.’
8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings,
and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them ” (which are offered according to the law),
9 then He said,
“Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.”
He takes away the first that He may establish the second.
that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of
Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands
ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can
never take away sins. 12 But
this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice
for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,
13 from that time waiting
till His enemies are made His footstool.
14 For by one offering He
has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Son of God was the only sufficient payment for the sins of the world.
Therefore, it is justified to say that our sins killed Jesus Christ.
So far we have seen that
there are several contributors to the death of Jesus Christ. Pilate, the
religious leaders, Satan, the sins of the world. All can be listed as valid
contributors to the final verdict. But is this all there is to the story? Let’s look closely at
some aspects that have not yet been considered.
God the Father and Jesus
Christ did not have to go through the gruesome experience of the
flagellation and crucifixion of Christ. They could have simply allowed
humanity to reap the fruits of its doing and could have moved on without
humanity. God did not have to send Jesus to die for the sins of Mankind. He
did not have to watch His “beloved Son" go through an agonizing flagellation
and a horrific death on the cross.
Jesus Christ did not
have to offer Himself for anyone. He had it all. Yet, He divested Himself of
power and glory, came to live as a man and went through the agony of abuse
and humiliation. He also suffered excruciating pain through the flagellation
and agonized for six hours hanging from a cross.
AND HE DID
NOT HAVE TO GO THROUGH ANY OF IT!
Yet, these two
perplexing beings chose the path of anguish so as to manifest their love for
all of us. They chose to deliver us from the death penalty and eternal
extinction, though it would have meant anguish they had never experienced
killed Jesus Christ then? Was it Pilate, or the Jewish leaders,
Satan, or our sins?
GOD'S AND CHRIST'S LOVE FOR HUMANITY THAT ULTIMATELY KILLED JESUS CHRIST.
so loved the world that He gave His
only begotten Son that whomsoever believes in Him should not perish but have
everlasting life” (John 3:16).
God the Father loves us
humans so much that He was willing to go through unfathomable anguish for
us, by offering His only Son to be scourged and then to be nailed to a
cross. It was His love that prevented our merited
extinction. It was His love that brought us unmerited forgiveness and opened
the possibility of eternal life for all humans.
Jesus Christ agreed to do
God's will, fully conscious of the horrific ramifications that His decision
would have had for Him. Yet, He was greatly encouraged by the fact that his
future suffering would have brought about salvation for all of humanity:
am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this
bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread
that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world"
(John 6: 51).
This is love -- unfathomable
Who, therefore, killed Jesus Christ? The answer should be clear by now: The
Jewish leaders wished it; Pilate could have, but did not prevent it; Satan
incited it; our sins demanded it. Most of all, though, it was God the Father
who willed it, and it was Jesus Christ who willingly offered himself to be
sacrificed -- for the Jewish leaders who wanted Him killed, for Pilate who
washed his hands, for the Roman soldiers who scourged and crucified Him, for
you and for me, and for all of humanity that He and the Father love
Therefore, as you watch Mel Gibson’s movie, please remember that God the
Father willed and allowed the gruesome sufferings of Jesus Christ. Remember
also that Jesus Christ willingly became a part of the horrendous ordeal.
Most of all, consider how much God and Christ love you, that they would be
willing to go through so much for your sake so that
you and I, and the whole world, would not experience eternal destruction.
What an honor and blessing it is to have a Father and a Brother
who love us this much.
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