From these selected passages in Acts, can you identify who is responsible for Jesus’s death?
“Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them, “…Fellow Israelites… Though [Jesus] was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used lawless people to nail him to a cross and kill him”” (Acts 2:14, 22-23).
“Peter… addressed the people: “Fellow Israelites… The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied before Pilate, though he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and… You killed the source of life…”” (Acts 3:12-15).
“Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders… let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified…”” (Acts 4:8, 10).
“After [Peter and John] were released, they went to their own people and… they raised their voices together to God and said, “Master… Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your will predestined to take place”” (Acts 4:24, 27-28).
“When the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin- the full council of the Israelites- and… the high priest asked, “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? Look, you… are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the apostles replied, “…The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging him on a tree”” (Acts 5:21, 30).
“Brothers and fathers, [Stephen] replied, “…Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They even killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become”” (Acts 7:2, 52).
“Paul stood up and motioned with his hand and said: “…God brought to Israel the Savior, Jesus… “Brothers and sisters, children of Abraham’s race, and those among you who fear God… Since the residents of Jerusalem and their rulers… found no grounds for the death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him killed. When they had carried out all that had been written about him, they took him down from the tree and put him in a tomb”” (Acts 13:16, 23, 26-29).
Here’s what I see:
God, knowing all that would happen and seeing that sinful people would need a savior, predestined the death of Jesus. He sent prophets to foretell the Messiah’s coming and his atoning sacrifice. When Jesus appeared, the Israelites, along with their leaders, betrayed and murdered him by handing him over to Pilate. Pilate had Jesus crucified by Gentile soldiers.
Yet, let’s not forget what another Biblical author said,
Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,Isaiah 53:4-6
and he carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
for the iniquity of us all.
Are we not, in some way, responsible, too?