Who was responsible for Christ’s death? Who killed Jesus?
QuestionAnswer The solution to this question has a number of different sides. In the first place, there is little question that the religious leaders of Israel were directly or indirectly responsible for Jesus’ killing. “The chief priests and the elders of the people convened in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they devised a plan to secretly capture Jesus and murder him,” according to Matthew 26:3–4. The Jewish authorities asked that Jesus be put to death from the Romans (Matthew 27:22–25).
It was a Roman form of execution approved and carried out by the Romans under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who sentenced Jesus to death on the cross.
The people of Israel were also participants in Jesus’ execution, as was the Roman Empire.
Crucify him!” “Crucify him!” the crowd chanted as He faced trial before Pilate (Luke 23:21).
When Peter told the men of Israel in Acts 2:22–23, he was confirming their suspicions: “You, with the assistance of evil men, put him to death by nailing him on the cross.” As it turned out, the murder of Jesus was part of an elaborate conspiratorial scheme that involved the Roman Empire, Herod’s Jewish leaders, and the Jewish people themselves, a diverse group of people who had never worked together before or since, but who came together this one time to plot and carry out an unthinkable act: the assassination of the only begotten Son of God.
- At the end of the day, and maybe quite astonishingly, it was God Himself who executed Jesus.
- Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross insured the redemption of untold millions of people and offered the sole means by which God could forgive sin without compromising His holiness and flawless righteousness, which was otherwise impossible.
- As opposed to being a win for Satan, or a needless tragedy, as some have indicated, it was the most gracious act of God’s grace and mercy, the greatest manifestation of the Father’s love for sinners.
- As the Bible says, “God caused him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that through him, we may become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- He died in order to pay the price for our sins (Romans 5:8; 6:23).
He did it this way to serve as a constant reminder to himself and everyone else that it was our faults that condemned Jesus to death on the cross. Questions regarding Jesus Christ (return to top of page) Who was to blame for the killing of Jesus Christ? Who was responsible for Jesus’ death?
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Who Killed Jesus?
In 1965, as part of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church issued the much-anticipated proclamation Nostra Aetate, which took a fresh look at the subject of Jewish blame for the execution of Jesus Christ. That modern-day Jews could not be held responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion, and that not all Jews who were alive at the time of Jesus’ execution were guilty of the crime, according to the arguments in the paper. In the history of Christian views toward Jews, this was a significant step forward, as Christian anti-Semitism has long been predicated on the assumption that Jews were responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion.
When Jesus was crucified, they thought that the Church would come out and claim that the Jews had had no role in his execution.
Jews Lacked A Motive for Killing Jesus
Indeed, most historians believe that it would have been more rational to place the responsibility for Jesus’ execution on the Romans. Crucifixion was a common form of punishment among the Romans, not among the Jews. At the time of Jesus’ execution, the Romans were enforcing a harsh and ruthless occupation on the Land of Israel, and the Jews had been rebellious at times throughout the occupation. The Romans would have had good cause to desire to silence Jesus, who had been dubbed “King of the Jews” by some of his disciples and was well-known as a Jewish upstart miracle worker at the time of his death.
The many factions of the Jewish society at the period — including the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and others — had numerous differences with one another, but none of the organizations orchestrated the death of the leaders of the other purportedly heretical sects.
READ: The History of the Land of Israel Under Roman Control Nonetheless, the notion that Jews murdered Jesus can be found in Christian foundational literature dating back to the early days of the Jesus movement, and it is unlikely that it will be readily abandoned simply because of historians’ arguments.
The New Testament Account
The myth that Jews assassinated Jesus is parodied in this 1896 cartoon, which substitutes Uncle Sam for the historical figure. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons) “The Jews who killed the Lord, Jesus,” Paul writes in his letters, which are considered by historians to be the earliest works of the New Testament (written 10 to 20 years after Jesus’ death), and he mentions them only briefly: “the Jews who killed the Lord, Jesus” (I Thessalonians 2:14-15). While the idea that the Jews bear primary responsibility for Jesus’ death is not central to Paul’s understanding of Jesus’ life and death, the idea that the Jews bear primary responsibility for Jesus’ death is more prominent in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, each of which presents a slightly different account of Jesus’ life.
Eventually, the high priest comes to the conclusion that Jesus is guilty of blasphemy and petitions the Jewish council for guidance on how to punish him.
Matthew’s account of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross (referred to by Christians as “Jesus’ “passion”) has served as the inspiration for numerous books, plays, and musical compositions over the years, and it is a prominent part of Christian liturgy, particularly during the celebration of Easter.
It is said that Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, was fundamentally sympathetic to Jesus, but that he was unable to withstand the pressure from the Jews, who demanded that Jesus be put to death.
When Pilate arrives, the assembled members of the Jewish community tell him, “His blood be on us and on our children,” which is the most contentious verse in all of the passion narratives (Matthew 27:25).
According to Christian belief, later generations of Jews are also guilty of deicide, the crime of killing God, which was committed by their forefathers.
Church Fathers and Thereafter
An etching from 1845 portraying King Herod and Pontius Pilate exchanging handshakes. (Photo by F.A. Ludy courtesy of Wellcome Images/Wikimedia Commons) With even more clarity and power, this allegation emerges in the works of the Church Fathers, who are considered to be the most authoritative Christian theologians who lived after the New Testament period. After explaining to his Jewish interlocutor why the Jews had experienced exile and the destruction of their Temple, Justin Martyr (mid-second century) concludes that these “tribulations were justly placed on you since you have assassinated the Just One” (Jesus Christ) (Dialogue with Trypho, chapter 16).
- A historical King Solomon addresses the Jews in “The Mystery of Adam,” a religious drama from the 12th century that prophesies that they would eventually slay the son of God, as depicted in the play.
- This statement is subject to verification.
- The masters of the law will be the ones who do this.
- They’ll descend from a tremendous height, and may they be comforted in their bereaved state of affairs.
- In recent times, passion plays — large-scale outdoor theater events that dramatize the end of Jesus’ life and frequently feature hundreds of actors — have continued to spread this notion, as have other forms of religious expression.
In the Talmud
It’s worth noting that the notion that the Jews assassinated Jesus may be found in Jewish religious literature as well. Against the evidence of theBabylonian Talmud, on folio 43a of tractateSanhedrin, aberaita (a doctrine dating back to before the year 200 C.E.) says that Jesus was executed by a Jewish tribunal for the crimes of sorcery and insurrection. For this reason, there is a blank area near the bottom of that folio in normal Talmuds from Eastern Europe — or in American Talmuds that simply copied from them — since the possibly offending text has been omitted.
This section has been restored in a number of recent Talmudic versions.) When the Talmud claims that the incident occurred on the eve of Passover, it follows the timeline given in the gospel of John, which is supported by historical evidence.
Responsibility for the killing of Jesus is also given to the Jews in Jewish folk literature, such as the popular scurrilous Jewish biography of Jesus,Toledot Yeshu (which may be as old as the fourth century), and in Christian folk fiction.
From the first through the nineteenth century, the degree of hostility between Jews and Christians was such that both parties believed the accusation that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus.
People who believe the tales of the New Testament (or of the Talmud) to be credible historical sources should not be shocked if this belief prevails. You may read this article in Spanish (leer en espaol) if you want to learn more about who killed Jesus.
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Why Did Pontius Pilate Have Jesus Executed?
“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate asks Jesus of Nazareth in the Gospel of John, and Jesus responds with a question. It’s a question that may be raised regarding Pilate’s own personal background as well. According to the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the Roman ruler of Judea was a shaky judge who originally exonerated Jesus before bowing to the will of the multitude and condemned him to death as a result of his actions. Non-Biblical sources, on the other hand, present him as a barbaric commander who wilfully rejected the traditions of the Jewish people under his command.
WATCH: JESUS: A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE VaultJesus before Pilate, just before he was crucified.
Pilate’s early life is a mystery.
Before his time as Roman governor of Judea, from 26 and 36 A.D., nothing is known about Pilate’s early life and career. While most believe he was born into an equestrian family in Italy, certain tales indicate that he was actually born in the Scottish Highlands. From the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria emerges one of the earliest—and most damning—accounts of Pilate’s reign as governor. Around the year 50 A.D., he denounced the prefect for “briberies, insults, robberies, outrages and wanton injuries, executions without trial, constantly repeated, endless and extremely severe brutality,” among other things.
- Patterson describes Pilate’s rule as “corrupt and full of bribery.” Patterson is an early Christianity historian at Willamette University and the author of several books, including The Forgotten Creed: Christianity’s Original Struggle Against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism.
- “Philo is a really dramatic writer,” she observes, “and one who has very apparent biases: persons who maintain Jewish rules are documented in highly favorable ways, whereas people who do not uphold Jewish laws are represented in quite bad ways.
- MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: The Bible asserts that Jesus was a real person.
- Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus had been tortured, and this was the culmination of that suffering.
Pilate clashed with the Jewish population in Jerusalem.
A pair of golden shields emblazoned with the name of the Roman Emperor Tiberius were allowed into King Herod’s ancient residence in Jerusalem, according to Philo, despite Jewish tradition. Writing more than a half-century later, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus related a similar story, claiming that Pilate let troops bearing military standards with the likeness of the emperor into Jerusalem, despite Jewish law prohibiting the carrying of images in the holy city. A large number of people journeyed to the Judean city of Caesarea to express their displeasure, and they laid prostrate outside Pilate’s palace for five days until he finally yielded.
This account has the ring of a rookie governor experimenting with his powers and entirely underestimating the depth of local opposition to graven images.
Josephus related another event, this one with a bloodier conclusion, in which Pilate used cash from the Temple treasury to construct an aqueduct to provide water to Jerusalem.
They were successful. When he gave the signal, they withdrew clubs disguised in their clothing and beat many of the demonstrators to death with the clubs they had removed. More information may be found at: Where Is the Head of Saint John the Baptist?
The Gospels portray an indecisive Pilate.
Josephus also referred to Pilate’s well-known role in agreeing to Jesus’ death, which he had played previously. After being gravely concerned by his teachings, the Sanhedrin (an elite council of priestly and lay elders) arrested Jesus while he was celebrating the Jewish festival of Passover, according to the Gospels. They hauled Jesus before Pilate to be prosecuted for blasphemy, accusing him of claiming to be the King of the Jews, which they said was false. And they exerted pressure on Pilate, the only person who had the authority to sentence someone to death, to order his crucifixion.
According to the Gospel of Mark, Pilate intervened on Jesus’ behalf before caving in to the demands of the mob.
MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Discovering the Early Christian Church’s Conversion Tactics from Within “Mark’s goal isn’t truly historical in nature,” Patterson explains.
Mark blamed the Jewish rulers in Jerusalem for the city’s collapse since the high priests and officials had turned their backs on Jesus when he had arrived in the city.
courtesy of DeAgostini/Getty Images Following this, according to the Gospel of Matthew, Pilate washed his hands in front of the assembled throng before declaring, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; take care of yourself.” When the Jewish people heard this, they yelled out, “His blood be on us and our children.” For millennia, it would be used to punish the Jewish people, and it is still being utilized now.
As Bond explains, “Matthew claims that, while Romans were accountable for carrying out the action, the Jews were liable—a line of thought that, of course, has had fatal ramifications ever since.” When Jesus was making problems during a gathering like Passover, when the city was packed to capacity, I don’t believe Pilate would have spent much time worrying about what to do with him.
According to the Gospels, the people preferred the criminal Barabbas than Jesus.
The so-called custom of freeing a prisoner on Passover has been investigated by scholars, but so far, according to Patterson, “they have not discovered anything in regard to this so-called ritual.” More information may be found at: Early Christians Didn’t Always Take the Bible Literally (Discovery).
Pilate disappears from history after his rule.
Following the use of disproportionate force to quell a suspected Samaritan rebellion, Pilate was dismissed from office and transported back to Rome, according to Josephus and the Roman historian Tacitus. Pilate vanished from the historical record as soon as he arrived in Rome. According to various legends, he was either executed by Emperor Caligula or committed suicide, with his remains being thrown into the Tiber River after his death. In fact, the early Christian author Tertullian said that Pilate had become a disciple of Jesus and had attempted to convert the emperor to Christian beliefs.
A portion of a carved stone with Pilate’s name and title etched in Latin on it was discovered face down in an antique theater, where it had been used as a stair.
According to a November 2018 article in Israel Exploration Journal, improved photography showed Pilate’s name engraved in Greek on a 2,000-year-old copper alloy ring recovered at Herodium, which was previously thought to be a Roman coin.
The Crucifixion of Jesus and the Jews
Jesus was executed because he was a Jewish victim of Roman persecution. On this point, all documented authorities are in agreement. His execution was ordered by the Gentile Roman ruler, Pontius Pilate, who had him tortured and killed by Gentile Roman troops before he was executed. In fact, Jesus was one of thousands of Jews who were executed by the Romans. The New Testament not only attests to this fundamental reality, but it also provides for Jewish participation in two ways. A small group of high-ranking Jewish officials who owed their positions and authority to the Romans colluded with the Gentile leaders to have Jesus executed; they are claimed to have been envious of Jesus and to have regarded him as an existential danger to the status quo.
The number of individuals in this mob is not specified, nor is there any explanation provided for their actions (other than the fact that they had been “stirred up,” as stated in Mark 15:11).
As recorded in Matthew, the Roman ruler wipes his hands of Jesus’ blood, as the Jews exclaim, “His blood be upon us and upon our children!” (Matthew 27:25.) Throughout Jesus’ mission, the Jews are shown as desiring to murder him in John’s Gospel (John 5:18,John 7:1,John 8:37).
This shift in emphasis is not entirely clear, but one obvious possibility is that as the church spread throughout the world, Romans rather than Jews became the primary targets of evangelism; as a result, there may have been some motivation to “off-the-hook” the Romans and blame the Jews for Jesus’ death rather than the other way around.
However, by the middle of the second century, the apocryphal Gospel of Peter presents the Romans as Jesus’ supporters, and the Jews as those who crucify him, according to tradition.
As a result, anti-Semitism has fed such beliefs for ages, culminating in the crude demonization of Jews as “Christ-killers.” Christians have traditionally held, in opposition to such predictions, that the human actors responsible for Jesus’ execution are irrelevant: he offered his life voluntarily as a sacrifice for sin (Mark 10:45;John 18:11).
“Let his blood be upon us and upon our children!” cries out the congregation in most liturgical churches when Matthew’s PassionNarrativeis read during a worship service.
In most liturgical churches, when Matthew’s PassionNarrativeis read during a worship service, all members of the congregation are invited to echoMatt 27:25aloud, crying out, “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children!”
Mark Allan Powell is a professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota (Columbus, Ohio). He is the editor of the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary and the author of Introducing the New Testament (Baker, 2009) andJesus as a Figure in History (Westminster, 2009). He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. John Knox Publishing Company, 2012). A gathering of individuals who are participating in religious services and are worshiping. The proclamation of “the good news” of Jesus Christ to the entire world.
- spurious gospel purporting to have been authored by the apostle Peter, but which was rejected by the early Roman Catholic Church as part of the canonical New Testament canon because of its apocryphal nature.
- A narrative that has been written, spoken, or recorded.
- God’s character and actions are discussed through writing, conversation, or contemplation.
- 15:1111 (Mark 15:1111) The leading priests, on the other hand, incited the mob to demand that Jesus release Barabbas for them instead.
27:2525 (KJV) Following that, the entire population exclaimed, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 5:1818 (John 5:1818) In order to assassinate him, the Jews increased their efforts even further, believing that he was not only violating the Sabbath but also referring to God as his own Father in the process.
- He did not want to travel about in Judea since the Jews were searching for an occasion to attack him and his family.
- 1 2:14-1514 (Thess 2:14-1514) Because you, brothers and sisters, were models for the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are located in Judea, because you experienced the same things from your own compa, you became imitators of those churches.
- Observe further information 10:45:45 (Mark 10:45:45) The Son of Man, after all, did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 18:1111 (John 18:1111) “Put your sword back into its sheath,” Jesus instructed Peter to do.
- God, on the other hand, demonstrates his love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
- More details may be found at1 Tim 1:515 p.m.
When it comes to Christ Jesus coming into the world to help sinners—of which I am the foremost—the phrase is certain and deserving of complete acceptance. Matt. 27:2525 (KJV) Following that, the entire population exclaimed, “His blood be on us and on our children!”
Romans are to blame for death of Jesus
Among religious specialists and laypeople alike, the soon-to-be-released Mel Gibson film “The Passion of the Christ” is causing quite a commotion in the media. Many people believe the film contains anti-Semitic implications. Although the Jews are often believed to have been involved in Jesus’ death, according to Dr. Frank K. Flinn of Washington University in St. Louis’ department of religious studies, the Romans are truly to blame for the death of Jesus. Frank Flinn is a songwriter and musician from the United Kingdom.
“Crucifications could only be authorized by the Roman authorities, and they frequently did so on a brutal, mass scale.” In the opinion of Flinn, an expert on Catholicism, Gibson’s film appears to merge all of the gospel stories about the Passion into one epic, a made-for-the-big-screen story that fails to show how opinions about the Jews’ role in the crucifixion have changed dramatically over time, as has been shown in other films about the Passion.
- The author points out that our oldest accounts of the crucifixion, such as the Gospel of Mark, which was written about 60-70 C.E., make it apparent that Pilate was the one who ordered Christ’s execution.
- “Matthew, most likely as a result of inter-Jewish competition, places the ultimate responsibility fully on the shoulders of the Jewish leadership,” Flinn explained.
- When it came to Jewish persecution and murder throughout the Middle Ages, the label “Christ-killers” became a rhetorical club to legitimize the ghettoization, persecution, and slaughter of Jews.
- A Guide to Taking in the Show Mel Gibson’s next film Written by Frank K.
- In his books The Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities, Josephus, the Jewish historian, records several incidents.
- Only the Roman authorities had the authority to order crucifixions, and they did it on a brutal and enormous scale on a regular basis.
- The first Galilean disciples of Jesus regarded him as a prophet similar to Elijah, who wandered the Galilean hills healing the sick and reviving the dead, as did the prophet Elijah.
- Sadducees and Pharisees were among the Jewish leaders who owed their positions to their patron-client relationship with the Roman rulers (notice the word “some”).
- In addition to the teachers and prophets in rural Galilee and the Dead Sea Scrolls community at Qumran, other Jewish groups and individuals either rejected or rebelled against the corrupt relationship between Jerusalem and Rome.
- Along with the Temple tax, this tax was collected for Rome by the Temple officials, who distributed it to tax farmers.
- Due to the annual ordinance of Jubilee, it should have been possible for the rich in Jerusalem to restore this territory to the original tribes, but they failed to do so.
According to Leviticus 19:4, “render unto Caesar” means “return to Caesar” his own coin with Caesar’s image on it (a blasphemy to the pious Jew!) and “return to God” what is God’s, which is the land itself, which God ultimately owns and which God gave directly to Israel in the covenant (Joshua 24:13)!” The message of Jesus was both spiritually and politically dangerous, first to the Roman rulers and then, secondary, to their client appointees in Jerusalem, who were first threatened by it.
- The Gospel of Mark, the earliest Gospel we know, was written between 60 and 70 CE.
- Matthew and Luke were written considerably later, in the year 80-95, and show a wide range of interests and points of view.
- Aside from his status as a Jewish disciple of Jesus (Antioch being the site of the first use of the term “Christian”), Matthew also comments on the era following the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, when tensions broke out between rabbinic Yavneh Jews and Jewish followers of Jesus.
- It’s possible that the rabbis weren’t all that successful.
- (I constantly point out to my pupils that a Christian may attend any Jewish Sabbath service and participate fully in all of the prayers with complete religious commitment.) Matthew goes to great lengths to disassociate himself from the actions of the Roman authority.
- Perhaps as a result of intra-Jewish competition, the phrase “His blood be upon us and our offspring” is added to place the ultimate responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the Jewish leadership (Matthew 24:25).
- The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts should be read together as a single piece of literature.
We can now use the name “Christian,” which appears for the first time in Acts 11:26, but the term was probably definitely coined as a derogatory slur in its original context.
Against the backdrop of Roman criticism, Luke is attempting to defend Christianity against the charge of “superstition” leveled against it.
The paragraphs about Jesus being crowned with thorns and being mocked have been omitted.
“But Jesus hedelivered over to theirwill,” says Luke, elaborating on Pilate’s guilt (Luke 23:26).
In its present form (ca.
100-110 CE) is that John does not place the blame for Jesus’ death solely on Pilate, or Pilate’s Jewish authorities, or even the Jewish authorities alone, but on “Jews” collectively (John 19:12).
The stage is laid for the later, tragic accusation that “the Jews murdered Jesus,” despite the fact that John does not state so explicitly.
It was not until after Constantine established a complete break with Judaism as such that the term “Christ-killers” was coined to describe these individuals.
Bishop John Chrysostom of Constantinople (ca.
By the Middle Ages, the label “Christ-killers” had evolved into a linguistic club used to legitimize the ghettoization, persecution, and death of Jews around the world, particularly in Europe.
My argument establishes a chronological order for determining who was responsible for Jesus’ killing, as well as the appropriate terminology for each stage: Romans Leaders of the Romans and Jews The High Priest, the Scribes, and the Elders/Romans Chief Priest, Scribes, Elders, and the general populace/Pilate (sort of) Jews are a group of people who live in a community that is surrounded by other Jews (in general) “Stiff-necked Individuals” “Christ-killers.” According to what I’ve read about Mel Gibson’s movie in published accounts, it appears to be similar to many other films about Jesus in that it combines all of the gospel tales about the passion into a single narrative.
As I’ve demonstrated above, the multiple gospels express quite different messages.
This makes it seem eerily similar to the infamous traditional Catholic Oberammergau Passion Play in Germany, which was in its original form grossly stereotyped and anti-Semitic in its content.
Most crucially, the inclination in virtually all Christian interpretations of Jesus’ death is to adopt as one’s frame of reference, not the first phrase in the sequence I listed above, but the last term in the series. But, to be fair, we’ll have to wait till the film is out before we can find out.
Who Really Killed Jesus?
The subject of who is ultimately accountable for the murder of Jesus has long been a source of heated dispute among Christians. That it is such a contentious issue is because it has been used as a justification for anti-Semitism on a large scale in the past. The fact is that assigning blame for Christ’s death to a single organization or individual is extremely difficult to do. But let’s take a look at some of the places where accountability falls.
There’s no denying that Jesus died in a manner that was uniquely Roman in nature. While Rome did not develop the act of crucifixion, they did make it more efficient and effective. Under the supervision of the Romans, what began as a way of humiliating offenders by nailing them to a tree or a stake became a far more effective method of punishment. Jews did not (and were not permitted to) crucify anybody under any circumstances. Rather of beheaded, they were stoned, which was a more ancient method of execution.
Not only were the Romans accountable for Jesus’ crucifixion, but they were also responsible for much of the suffering and humiliation that surrounded His execution.
- There is no doubt that Jesus died in a manner that was distinctively Roman. Even while Rome did not develop the act of crucifixion, they did make it as effective as possible. It was under the leadership of the Romans that what began out as a method of shaming offenders by nailing them to a tree or a stake became far more effective. Jewish people were never crucified (and were never allowed to do so). It was the more ancient method of stoning that was used for their executions. Immediately following Jesus’ trial by the Sanhedrin, the Jews hand Him over to Pilate with the charge that He “opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be the Messiah, or a king (Luke 23:2). It was not only the Romans who crucified Jesus, but they were also responsible for much of the anguish and humiliation that followed His death on the cross. The Romans were the ones who did the following things:
It is impossible to acquit the Romans of their role in Jesus’ crucifixion. They must be held accountable.
There is no doubt that the Jewish authorities were the source of almost all of Jesus’ opposition. They viewed Him as a direct challenge to the Law and to their authority in general. The final nail in the coffin appears to have been the cleansing of the temple. It appeared that this action, combined with the raucous reception Jesus received as He rode into Jerusalem, had inflamed the religious authorities’ feelings. It was even necessary for the Sanhedrin to introduce false witnesses during Christ’s trial for blasphemy in order to guarantee a guilty verdict: “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple built with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with human hands.'” Even so, their testimonies did not corroborate one another.
- Was this testimony that these men are bringing against you true and accurate?” But Jesus remained deafeningly silent and didn’t say anything.
- “I am,” Jesus stated emphatically.
- The high priest ripped his clothes to shreds.
- “You’ve heard the blasphemy, haven’t you?
Paul, a Jew himself, seems to lay the responsibility at the feet of the Jews in his letter to the Thessalonican church:”For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out.
But in his sermon at Pentecost, Peter distributes the blame equally.
This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:22–23).
The fact is that it makes no difference who ordered Jesus’ execution. Each of us has some responsibility for His death. Jesus was crucified in order to atone for all of our sins. “Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not just for our sins, but also for the sins of the whole world,” the disciple John writes in his first Epistle (1 John 2:2). As a result of Christ’s death, we are both the cause of and the beneficiaries of it. Because Jesus was crucified as a result of the sin of everyone who has ever lived, it is pointless to point fingers at any one individual as being personally culpable.
Fortunately, the gospel tale did not come to a close on a depressing note with the crucifixion.
It doesn’t matter who killed Jesus; what counts is that death has been overcome once and for all through the cross.
BBC – Religions – Christianity: Who killed Jesus?
It is believed that no trial or death in history has had such a dramatic effect as Jesus’ trial and execution in Roman-occupied Jerusalem two thousand years ago. But, more importantly, was it an execution or a judicial murder, and who was to blame? Beginning with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, the tale opens with the Galilean rebelJesus, who is consciously fulfilling a prophesy in the Hebrew Bible about his advent as Messiah. He’s surrounded by a throng of admirers. Following that, Jesus enters the Temple, the center of Jewish Judaism, and assaults money-changers, accusing them of defiling a sacred space.
Jesus is captured in the Garden of Gethsemane and brought before Caiaphas before being judged by the Roman Governor.
Caiaphas was in an advantageous position. Caiaphas was a master political manipulator and one of the most powerful men in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ death. As High Priest of the Temple, he’d already lived 18 years (the average High Priest only lasts 4), and he’d formed a solid alliance with the Roman forces in control of the temple complex. Caiaphas was well-connected to everyone who mattered. At the time, he was the de-facto king of the whole Jewish community around the world, and he intended to maintain it that way.
The argument against Caiaphas is that he arrested Jesus, tried him in a kangaroo court, and condemned him on a religious charge that bore the death sentence. This is the basis for the death penalty.
What were Caiaphas’ motives?
Caiaphas’ power was threatened by Jesus. Caiaphas could not afford to allow any upstart preacher to get away with challenging his authority, especially at such a sensitive time of year as Passover was approaching. This was the most important Jewish holiday, and academics estimate that over two and a half million Jews would have gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the occasion. Caiaphas did not want to be seen as a fool.
Jesus threatened Caiaphas’ relationship with Rome
Caiaphas’ power foundation was the Sanhedrin, the ultimate Jewish council that ruled over both civil and religious law in the time of Jesus. It was comprised of 71 members, the majority of whom were chief priests, and Caiaphas presided over its proceedings. There were enormous benefits for the effort, since contemporary archaeologists have revealed that Caiaphas and his companions lived luxurious lives in homes that were vast and elaborately adorned. However, the Sanhedrin was only able to rule because the Romans granted them permission, and the only way to keep the Romans pleased was to maintain order in society.
In other words, if Jesus was causing difficulty, it was causing trouble for both Caiaphas and Pilate – and trouble for Pilate was still trouble for Caiaphas, as well.
Jesus threatened the Temple’s income
Jesus was also posing a danger to a valuable source of revenue for the Temple’s priests. When it came to simple concerns like cleansing and the remission of sins, the Temple equipment brought in tremendous sums of money. Archaeologists have unearthed 150 mikvehs in the area surrounding the Temple of Solomon. Mikvehs are ceremonial baths that Jews take to cleanse themselves before participating in any religious activity. People who were ritually unclean could not enter the Temple, and practically everyone who arrived in Jerusalem for Passover was regarded to be ritually unclean.
- The mikvehs were under the supervision of the priests, who charged people to use them.
- Jesus felt the whole thing was a load of nonsense.
- The Temple’s apparatchiks have received some bad news.
- If this gets out of hand, it might spark a riot in the Temple.
- Jesus stormed into the Temple and accused the moneychangers and dealers of sacrificial doves of extortion and of turning the Temple into a den of thieves, according to the Gospel of Matthew.
- And God, as every Jew was well aware, has the authority to do so – he had shown this many times before.
Jesus was doing this in the Temple, in front of a large audience, and with no regard for Caiaphas or his staff in the least. He needed to do something to demonstrate that he was still in charge, and he needed to do it soon; Jesus was on a roll, and no one could predict what he would do next.
What Caiaphas did
You don’t get to be High Priest unless you’re capable of making difficult decisions and seeing them through to completion. A gathering of the chief priests was summoned by Caiaphas as it became clear that Jesus had to be stopped. According to Matthew’s Gospel, Caiaphas informed them that Jesus would have to be slain. This was something that the priests were not entirely certain about. If Jesus were to be executed, there may be rioting. Caiaphas, on the other hand, received his judgment and put it into effect immediately.
We may disapprove of certain of Caiaphas’ self-interested motivations, such as maintaining his wealth and power base, but this does not amount to a crime of any kind in our eyes.
The man was a well-known rebel, and he was risking public order at a time when enormous and turbulent crowds were thronging the streets of New York.
The rigged trial
Caiaphas had stepped over into the wrong side of the law at this point. He arranged the trial in his favor. Caiaphas took on the positions of chief judge and prosecuting attorney, which are often incompatible. Scholars are familiar with the laws that applied to Jewish trials during that time period, and the trial of Jesus defied several of those norms, including the following:
- It took place at night since Jewish trials were required to take place during the day. A feast day had been observed, which was not permitted. Despite the fact that it took place at Caiaphas’ house, it should have taken place in the council chamber.
Caiaphas’ trial did not go according to plan. To establish that Jesus had threatened to demolish the Temple, which would have been treason and an offense against God, he would have to produce evidence. The witnesses, on the other hand, couldn’t agree on what Jesus had said. As a result, the accusation was dismissed. Caiaphas made the decision to see if he could trick Jesus into saying something he shouldn’t have. He confronted Jesus with a direct question: “Are you the Son of God, the Son of the Most High, the Son of the Most Holy?
- It’s sufficient.
- The other members of the Court are in agreement.
- There was only one problem: the court lacked the authority to carry out executions.
- Actually, there are two issues: first, blasphemy against the God of the Jews was not considered a crime under Roman law, and second, unless Caiaphas can come up with anything better, it may not be enough to persuade the Romans to execute Jesus unless he can come up with something better.
Caiaphas was dismissed from office shortly after Jesus’ death and retired to his farm in Galilee, where he lived in peace.
The case against Pontius Pilate
What was Pilate’s reasoning for executing Jesus when he thought him to be guiltless? Pilate was the Governor of Judea, which was a province of the Roman Empire at the time of Jesus’ death. He had 6,000 crack troops with him and another 30,000 on standby in neighboring Syria, according to reports.
When it came to keeping Rome happy, Pilate had total authority, including the power of life and death, as long as he kept the peace with the people. The argument against Pilate is that he judged Jesus not guilty, but ordered his execution in order to maintain public order and maintain the peace.
The two Pilates
We don’t know what Pilate was like in his personal life. The Bible portrays him as a weak but innocent guy who did not want to put a man to death who he felt was innocent, but who caved in to political pressure because he was weak. Some historians, however, are of the opposite opinion. Philo, who was writing at the time, described Pilate as cold-blooded, harsh, and merciless. He was presumably a typical Roman with a contempt for any other civilization, believing that the Jews were not nearly as civilized as the Romans were.
What were Pilate’s motives?
Pilate was determined to maintain the status quo. His ability to administer the province smoothly and effectively was critical to his future advancement in the Roman Empire. He had 6,000 soldiers on standby to preserve the peace in a metropolis with a population of 2.5 million Jews, which he commanded. The religious leaders, whose cooperation he required in order to live a peaceful life, urged him to put Jesus to death, and there was an angry throng clamoring for Jesus’ blood. It was conceivable that releasing Jesus would have sparked a riot, and Pilate may have lost control of the city and probably the entire province.
No matter how little he cared for the people of Judea, Pilate was unable to avoid attending the most important event of the year, the Passover. The message of Passover was one that was guaranteed to cause consternation among those who were attempting to maintain control over the Jewish people, for it commemorated the moment when God transported the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Holy Land, allowing them to shake off foreign occupation. Consequently, it is no coincidence that practically all of the riots that we learn about in the first century took place around the festival of Pesach.
And because unrest in such a circumstance is contagious, Pilate realized that he would have to be harsh in order to put an end to any chaos that arose in the situation.
But Pilate was probably unprepared for the predicament that Caiaphas presented him with when he brought Jesus before him.
A trial for treason
Instead of beginning with the conviction for blasphemy, Caiaphas asserted that Jesus was guilty of sedition, which was later overturned. Caiaphas said that Jesus believed himself, or that his supporters believed, or that people believed that he was the King of the Jews. The crime against Rome was a capital offense, and Pilate was obligated to deal with it, whether he wanted to or not. The rumor spread quickly throughout Jerusalem, claiming that Jesus of Nazareth was being tried for his life. Crowds began to form, some of whom were undoubtedly members of a mob organized by the Temple officials; this was exactly what a Roman governor looking for a quiet Passover did not want.
- Jesus didn’t say much or didn’t say anything at all.
- There was just no proof to support Jesus’ claims.
- The ruling infuriated the audience, who erupted in chants calling for Jesus’ execution on the cross.
- The alternative, on the other hand, was the execution of an innocent man.
- In ancient times, there were Passover amnesty laws in place, which authorized the Roman governor to free a prisoner during the holiday.
- They called for Barabbas to be liberated from his prison cell.
In his verdict, Pilate pronounced Jesus to be innocent and sentenced him to death by crucifixion. In front of the throng, he symbolically washed his hands, as if to assure them that he was not responsible for Jesus’ death.
Pilate was summoned to Rome in order to face prosecution for his ruthless treatment of Jews, but the Emperor Tiberius died before the trial could take place, and Pilate was never prosecuted. It is believed that he committed suicide in 37 AD, not long after the crucifixion had taken place. In Christian belief, Pilate and his wife finally converted to Christianity, according to the Bible.
The case against Jesus
Did Jesus have any idea what he was getting himself into during the events leading up to his execution? Many scholars think that Jesus himself was the one most responsible for the killing of Jesus, more so than anybody else in history. There is a substantial amount of evidence to imply that everything he did was premeditated and that he was fully aware of the repercussions of his decisions.
Jesus had a genuine belief that he was on a mission from God, and everything he did was in the service of that mission’s fulfillment.
Acting out the prophecy of the Messiah
When it comes to the events of Holy Week, it appears that Jesus is purposefully carrying out the prophesy in Hebrew scripture about Israel’s rightful ruler, the anointed one, the Messiah, who would come at long last to be God’s agent to rescue Israel. Even while his entry in Jerusalem on a donkey was a fulfillment of prophecy, it would not have been sufficient reason to have Jesus crucified on its own.
Attacking the religious establishment
When Jesus arrived to the Temple, he began not just a direct attack on the moneychangers’ business activities, but also a symbolic attack on the structure of the Temple itself. Jesus was well-versed in the religious traditions of his day, and he was well aware of the potential ramifications of his acts. He understood what it meant to declare the Temple’s destruction and to assert that a new kingdom, the Kingdom of God, was developing in its place. Jesus was well aware that the authorities would take action against him in due course, and he was well aware that the penalty would almost certainly be death.
But Jesus continued to put himself in harm’s way, staying in Jerusalem and celebrating the Passover with his disciples despite the threat.
In the midst of their meal, Jesus alluded to the bread they were eating as his broken body, and the crimson wine they were drinking as his spilled blood, as he sat with his disciples.
One of the Gospels records Jesus telling Judas, “Do what you have to do, but don’t take too long doing it.”
Jesus sweats blood
The account of Jesus’ night in Gethsemane provides compelling medical evidence that lends credence to the argument that he understood exactly what he was doing. It was at this place that Jesus was struck with a terrifying sense of uncertainty – was death, after all, what God had planned for him? He pleaded with God to save him from his predicament. It was at that point, according to St. Luke, who was himself a doctor, that Jesus sweated droplets of blood into the path in front of him. Doctors are aware that small blood vessels supply the sweat glands that are found throughout our bodies.
The medical word for this condition is haematohydrosis, which means “blood sweat.” If Jesus had known what he was in for, he would have been unable to endure the tension, which would have caused him to break out in hives and sweat blood.
So was Jesus guilty of his own death?
Not in the sense of remorse that the majority of people would comprehend. A soldier who embarks on a mission that is almost guaranteed to result in death is a brave guy, not a coward or a criminal. However, Jesus was not culpable in the same way that Caiaphas and Pilate were. He remained true to his calling, even though it resulted in death.