Who Killed Jesus and What is the Significance of His Death?
Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to earth and died a cruel death, being crucified on a cross, a most torturous method of execution reserved for the vilest of criminals. At the heart of the Christian faith is the belief that through His death, salvation is brought to humanity. Unless we understand, however, the issues behind His death and who did it, we may end up seeing God as being no better than the pagans who sacrifice their most loved children in order to achieve what is perceived to be some good.
A songwriter captured some of the questions that may naturally arise, in the following words:
Who killed Jesus? I would like to know.
Who is guilty of a crime so low?
Why did He have to die?
What is the reason why?
Who killed Jesus? I would like to know.
Was it Roman Soldiers, with their tools of war?
Pounding nails through hands that did no wrong.
Mocking and abusing, crowning Him with thorns,
All the evidence is very clear.
Was it Pontius Pilate, he was Governor,
Trying to decide the case that day?
Finding that the Savior had no fault His own,
Was he guilty when he turned away?
Was it Hebrew children, proud of who they were?
Shouting “Crucify Him” to their King.
Rejecting their Messiah for a common thief
Turning down the Kingdom He could bring.
The songwriter eventually concluded that he was the guilty one, in the following words: “It’s for me the Sacrifice was made. . . . . I am guilty, now it’s plain to see, that it was really me!”
The conclusion, takes us from the literal realm into a spiritualized realm because in a literal sense, it could not have been the songwriter who did it, since he was not yet born. True, he, like all repentant sinners, benefitted. But that is a different matter. We are talking about who did it! Was it God? Did God motivate or collude with wicked people to do this, in order to satisfy His own requirement? It is not a rude question. To many, it might appear so, because they have unwittingly bought into the Devil’s misrepresentation that has clouded the issues in order to keep us in darkness and deceive us.
Let there be no mistake, Jesus was killed by wicked people. The Bible says: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death” (Acts 2:23, 24).
Condemnation is on those who crucified Him, not blessing and reward! We are told: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matt. 26:24).
In order to understand the plan of salvation we have to go back to the beginning and work our way forward.
The issues behind the plan of salvation
First, let us be reminded of that most pivotal revelation of the Great Controversy that was given to Ellen G. White that she published in 1858. She said:
“The Lord has shown me that Satan was an honored angel in heaven, next to JESUS CHRIST. His countenance was mild, expressive of happiness like the other angels. His forehead was high and broad, and showed great intelligence. His form was perfect. He had a noble, majestic bearing. And I saw that when God said to his SON, Let us make man in our image, Satan was jealous of JESUS. He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man. He was filled with envy, jealousy and hatred. He wished to be the highest in heaven, next to GOD, and receive the highest honors.” (E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, pp. 17).
Because of his rebellion, Satan was cast out of heaven. What many people do not know, is that Satan sought reinstatement, which was denied because he had not changed. Here is the account of it:
“Satan stood in amazement at his new condition. His happiness was gone. He looked upon the angels who, with him, were once so happy, but who had been expelled from heaven with him. Before their fall not a shade of discontent had marred their perfect bliss. Now all seemed changed. Countenances which had reflected the image of their Maker were gloomy and despairing. Strife, discord, and bitter recrimination were among them. Previous to their rebellion these things had been unknown in heaven. Satan now beheld the terrible results of his rebellion. He shuddered, and feared to face the future and to contemplate the end of these things.” (E. G. White, The Story of Redemption, pp. 24, 25).
“Satan trembled as he viewed his work. He was alone in meditation upon the past, the present, and his future plans. His mighty frame shook as with a tempest. An angel from heaven was passing. He called him and entreated an interview with Christ. This was granted him. He then related to the Son of God that he repented of his rebellion and wished again the favour of God. He was willing to take the place God had previously assigned him, and be under His wise command. Christ wept at Satan’s woe but told him, as the mind of God, that he could never be received into heaven. Heaven must not be placed in jeopardy. All heaven would be marred should he be received back, for sin and rebellion originated with him. The seeds of rebellion were still in him. . . . He repented not of his rebellion because he saw the goodness of God which he had abused. . . . To be commander out of heaven was vastly different from being thus honoured in heaven. The loss he had sustained of all the privileges of heaven seemed too much to be borne. He wished to regain these.” (E. G. White, The Story of Redemption, pp. 26, 27).
It was this failure to gain reinstatement that led Satan to try another plan that involved getting Adam and Eve to sin. Here is the plan:
“His followers were seeking him, and he aroused himself and, assuming a look of defiance, informed them of his plans to wrest from God the noble Adam and his companion Eve. If he could in any way beguile them to disobedience, God would make some provision whereby they might be pardoned, and then himself and all the fallen angels would be in a fair way to share with them of God’s mercy. If this should fail, they could unite with Adam and Eve, for when once they should transgress the law of God they would be subjects of God’s wrath, like themselves. Their transgression would place them, also, in a state of rebellion, and they could unite with Adam and Eve, take possession of Eden, and hold it as their home. And if they could gain access to the tree of life in the midst of the garden, their strength would, they thought, be equal to that of the holy angels, and even God Himself could not expel them.” (E. G. White, The Story of Redemption, pp. 27, 28).
Salvation through the truth that puts enmity between us and Satan
When the first sin was committed by our fore-parents, Adam and Eve, God predicted exactly how salvation would come in Gen. 3:15 as follows:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Gen. 3:15.
Satan had hoped to have humanity fully on his side but God said He would break up the alliance by causing humanity to hate Satan and his ways. He would achieve this by sending His Son as the woman’s seed to bruise Satan’s head but in the process Satan would bruise the heel of His Son.
This was fulfilled at Calvary where, through death, Christ bruised Satan’s head by exposing him to the universe as a murderer while Christ’s heel was bruised by Satan, in that Satan took Christ’s life. But for Christ it was only a bruising of His heel since His Father would raise Him back from the dead (Gal. 1:1).
This is substantiated by many scriptures that show:
- That man was Satan’s captive – example, Heb. 2:14, 15.
- That Christ delivered man by converting man or changing man’s mind – that is, causing man to believe in Him rather than believing Satan. It is by believing God that we are saved – example, Luke 8:12; John 3:15; Acts 16:31; Rom. 4:3; Rom. 12:2.
- That Satan’s destruction is assured by the death of Christ – example, 1 John 3:8; Heb. 2:14, 15; Col. 2:14, 15.
- That those who believe in Christ will be given power to become sons of God (John1:12) – that is, power to overcome the devil (first and foremost) – Titus 2:11, 12 – and in some cases to work miracles (only in some cases) – Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:29: “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?” He says again in 1 Corinthians 12:10: “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues”.
Generally, spiritual gifts are given for the purpose of advancing the cause of truth and preparing people for God’s kingdom. We are told:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” Eph. 4:11-15.
- That eternal life will be given to those who believe in Christ, at the second coming of Christ (not before, except in special cases) – example, Mark 10:30; Rom. 2:6-8; 1 Cor. 15:22, 23 – even though God can speak of things that are not as though they were because of the certainty of such things (Rom. 4:17).Finally, it should be understood that through His foreknowledge, God knows and declares what will happen but it does not mean that He manipulates people’s minds to make them do evil things. He will even act, based upon His foreknowledge, in order to achieve a desired end, knowing what people will do, but He is not necessarily the one responsible for it being done or the one doing it. Such is the situation with the death of Christ. He yielded His Son. But it was the Devil and evil men who killed Him, thus playing right into God’s purpose of revealing the true nature of sin, which is enmity against God (Rom. 8:7) and a manifestation of a disposition to crucify the Son of God afresh each time it is committed (Heb. 6:6).
The popular ‘gospel’ makes death, which the Bible calls an enemy, a requirement of God before He can forgive. Unlike the popular ‘gospel’ that says that the death of Christ has satisfied once and for all, everything that the Father required, the truth is that the death of Christ, far from being required by God, was brought about by Satan and provides the basis whereby Satan will be condemned and ultimately be held responsible for all the sins that he would have caused the penitent to commit. The Bible says that through death, Christ destroys “him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb. 2:14, 15); and further, that by His death, Christ, “having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:14, 15).
So, death remains an enemy, wholly a consequence of sin (1 Cor. 15:26; Rom. 6:23). God is life and is not constrained to give life. He quickeneth whomsoever He wills, whenever He wills, without needing death to take place as a precondition (John 5:21).
Satan, the murderer, unmasked
In closing, I’ll leave with you the following description of the death of Christ from the pen of Ellen G. White for your thoughtful meditation:
“But God suffered with His Son. Angels beheld the Saviour’s agony. They saw their Lord enclosed by legions of satanic forces, His nature weighed down with a shuddering, mysterious dread. There was silence in heaven. No harp was touched.” (E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 693).
“Not until the death of Christ was the character of Satan clearly revealed to the angels or to the unfallen worlds. The archapostate had so clothed himself with deception that even holy beings had not understood his principles. They had not clearly seen the nature of his rebellion”. (E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 758).
“Heaven viewed with grief and amazement Christ hanging upon the cross, blood flowing from His wounded temples, and sweat tinged with blood standing upon His brow. From His hands and feet the blood fell, drop by drop, upon the rock drilled for the foot of the cross. The wounds made by the nails gaped as the weight of His body dragged upon His hands. His labored breath grew quick and deep, as His soul panted under the burden of the sins of the world. All heaven was filled with wonder when the prayer of Christ was offered in the midst of His terrible suffering,–“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. Yet there stood men, formed in the image of God, joining to crush out the life of His only-begotten Son. What a sight for the heavenly universe!
The principalities and powers of darkness were assembled around the cross, casting the hellish shadow of unbelief into the hearts of men. When the Lord created these beings to stand before His throne, they were beautiful and glorious. Their loveliness and holiness were in accordance with their exalted station. They were enriched with the wisdom of God, and girded with the panoply of heaven. They were Jehovah’s ministers. But who could recognize in the fallen angels the glorious seraphim that once ministered in the heavenly courts?
Satanic agencies confederated with evil men in leading the people to believe Christ the chief of sinners, and to make Him the object of detestation. Those who mocked Christ as He hung upon the cross were imbued with the spirit of the first great rebel. He filled them with vile and loathsome speeches. He inspired their taunts. But by all this he gained nothing.
Could one sin have been found in Christ, had He in one particular yielded to Satan to escape the terrible torture, the enemy of God and man would have triumphed. Christ bowed His head and died, but He held fast His faith and His submission to God. “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Rev. 12:10.
Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christ’s brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken”. (E. G. White, Desire of Ages, p. 759 -761).
Let us not spiritualize away the reality
In conclusion, it was Satan and his host of both evil men and evil angels who killed Christ. In doing so, Satan’s true character was revealed, in contrast to the character of God and Christ. It is this belief in the truth that transforms our minds and makes us single-hearted towards God. Spiritualism seeks to spiritualize away the reality of who God is, who Christ is, who Satan is and who the angels are so as to cause people to be blinded to the issues of the controversy and the issues of salvation.
May the Lord help that we will be settled into the truth both intellectually and spiritually so that we cannot be moved, because the time is coming and is not far from now when all will be shaken and only those who cannot be shaken will remain.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
For further information: