Who killed Jesus?

In his book, The Cross of Christ, John Stott writes:

The answer which we have so far given to the question “Why did Christ die?” has sought to reflect the way in which the Gospel writers tell their story. They point to the chain of responsibility (from Judas to the priests, from the priests to Pilate, from Pilate to the soldiers), and they at least hint that the greed, envy and fear which prompted their behavior also prompt ours. Yet this is not the complete account which the Evangelists give. I have omitted one further and vital piece of evidence that they supply. It is this: that although Jesus was brought to his death by human sins, he did not die as a martyr. On the contrary, he went to the cross voluntarily, even deliberately. From the beginning of his public ministry he consecrated himself to this destiny.

It is essential to keep together these two complementary ways of looking at the cross. On the human level, Judas gave him up to the priests, who gave him up to Pilate, who gave him up to the soldiers, who crucified him. But on the divine level, the Father gave him up, and he gave himself up, to die for us. As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both, “I did it, my sins sent him there,” and “He did it, his love took him there.” The apostle Peter brought the two truths together in his remarkable statement on the Day of Pentecost, both that “this man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” and that”you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross” Peter thus attributed Jesus’ death simultaneously to the plan of God and to the wickedness of men. For the cross which, as we have particularly considered in this chapter, is an exposure of human evil, is at the same time a revelation of the divine purpose to overcome the human evil thus exposed.

I come back at the end of this chapter to the question with which I began it: why did Jesus Christ die? My first answer was that he did not die; he was killed. Now, however, I have to balance this answer with its opposite. He was not killed; he died, giving himself up voluntarily to do his Father’s will.

John Stott also quotes Canon Peter Green:

Only the man who is prepared to own his share in the guilt of the cross may claim his share in its grace.

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