|Who Killed Jesus?|
"But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words... let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." (Acts 2:14,36 - The apostle Peter addressing the crowds who had come from all over the country to attend the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem)
"Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone." (Acts 4:10,11 - The apostle Peter, speaking to the Jewish elders and scribes)
"And they (Jews from many Mediterranean lands, Acts 6:9) stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him (Stephen), seized him, and brought him to the council...and he said... 'You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your forefathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, whom you betrayed and murdered, you who received the law by the direction of messengers and have not kept it.' When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed their teeth... then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him." (Acts 7:51-58)
Who Killed Jesus?
In March 2011, Pope Benedict XVI released a book that made a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church had already published its teaching on this issue in its 1965 Second Vatican Council document "Nostra Aetate," which transformed its relations with Jews. Previous to this, the Church had been notoriously hostile to the Jews, from its Crusades and Inquisitions right up to the tacit support given to the Nazis in World War 2, specifically the Catholics in the SS who controlled the death camps.
But what does the Bible tell us about who was responsible for the death of Jesus Christ?
To go right back to the beginning and literally beyond, it was ordained to happen from before the creation of the world, and therefore it was inevitable in the grand plan of the Lord himself. It was predicted by the Hebrew prophets, and Jesus unswervingly stated that his fate in Jerusalem was his unalterable destiny, but that in no way absolved the human beings who were to be held responsible for his death, neither individuals nor crowds representing the entire Jewish nation. "The Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" (Luke 22:22, Jesus speaking at the last supper) The apostle Peter understood this truth perfectly when he addressed Jews from foreign lands and all over Judea at Pentecost. "Him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, and have crucified and put to death." Acts 2:23)
He put the blame on them collectively, and it cut some of them to the bone. In fact, the Jews had already taken responsibility for the death of Christ themselves, right after the Roman governor Pontius Pilate said to them, "'I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.' And the people answered, 'His blood be upon us and our children.'" (Matthew 27:24,25)
It was obviously a prearranged deal made the night before to have him crucified, but the Jews needed Rome to get the deed done, and after meeting Jesus, Pilate wanted a way out of it. Look at the wording. "'If this man were not an evildoer, we would not have handed him over.' Pilate said to them, 'Take him and judge him by your own law.' The Jews said, 'It is not lawful for us (under Roman occupation) to put any man to death.'" And finally Pilate said, "' Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no crime in him.'... Then he handed him over to them to be crucified." (John 18:30,31 and 19:6,16)
Although Jesus was sentenced to satisfy the objective of the Jews, it was Rome that carried out the execution. No amount of hand washing can undo the fact that the Governor representing Rome allowed the execution of an innocent man to please the Jewish majority that wanted to silence Jesus.
Rome has been crucifying him ever since. Go into any number of churches and there he is, still nailed to a cross. That dreadful icon is a product of the early Christian Church, a gross fetish copied and multiplied however many billion times. The real apostles and disciples worshipped a risen Christ, not one being continually executed. A crucifix is a perpetual reminder of what the Jews did to their own Messiah. No wonder the Church has had such an anti-Semitic history! That tortured image is not how to depict or represent Jesus Christ. His stepping down from his eternal throne to be so abased and abused is over, and he has returned to reign at the right hand of the Father in glory, which is exactly how Stephen saw him when the Jewish people and churchmen were stoning him to death. (Acts 7:56)
The destiny of true disciples is very different from that of churchmen. It is a destiny inextricably entwined with the Person of the living, risen Christ, a destiny as sure and secure as the unstoppable willpower and grand resolve of God himself. As the apostle Paul put it, "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world... having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will... In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will." (Ephesians 1: 4-11)
The Jews were indeed guilty of the death of Christ and missed the greatest of all blessings because of their denial of their own Messiah, a descendant of King David, of the tribe of Judah. "He came to His own people, and His own people did not receive Him," says the apostle John. (John 1:9) And they have suffered a terrible history in continuing to reject him, as do all who make that fatal mistake. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil... He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:18,19,36)
The Church and its popes and prelates can attempt to rewrite history all they like, and pretend that they have the power to absolve the guilty while they are in fact deceiving the unwary and suppressing the truth. What the Pope says is very different from what the apostles Peter and Paul declared. The Pope is not their league at all, certainly not that of Peter. He is, however, most assuredly a successor of one of the apostles.