Why did Christ die? Because we killed him?

~ thoughts from The Cross of Christ by John Stott—Chapter 2

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
Tennessee Ernie Ford used to ask us that on Sunday mornings on my dad’s LP playing on our stereo. I still hear it like it was yesterday.

But was I there? Am I there?
Why did Christ die? Did I kill him?

“…and they crucified him”
Interestingly, none of the four Gospel writers go into detail about the actual crucifixion itself.  (See Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:25; Luke 23:33; John 19:18)

But who was really responsible? Who killed Christ?

So [Pilate] delivered him over to them to be crucified….
John 19:16

Even though Pilate believed Jesus was innocent, and even though Pilate tried four times to evade a crucifixion for Jesus, in the end he gave in to the Jews’ plea for His death.

  • Do we ever sacrifice what we think is right because of peer pressure? By our passivity do we crucify Jesus anew?

Jewish Leaders
This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Acts 2:23

Jesus told Pilate that his sin was less than the Jewish leaders who turned Him over to him (John 19:11). And why did the Jewish leaders’ hate Jesus? Scripture says even Pilate knew it was envy (Matthew 27:18)

Jesus was a threat to their authority. They had been in charge for so long and weren’t ready to relinquish their power without a fight.

  • How do we feel about Jesus messing with the lifestyle we’re comfortable with? Do we welcome change, or do we also fight against someone else telling us what to do?

Judas the traitor
For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.
Mark 14:21

Can Judas really be held responsible if he was just fulfilling a prophecy (John 17:12)?

Yes. He had planned out the betrayal. Luke accused him of wickedness (Acts 1:18). And Jesus said it would have been better had Judas not been born (Mark 14:21). Judas’ greed was his demise.

  • What do we value more than Jesus? Do we trade in our loyalty when other pleasures are more appealing?

You and me
...since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
Hebrews 6:6

So we crucify Christ too?

“We may try to wash our hands of responsibility like Pilate. But our attempt will be as futile as his. For there is blood on our hands.”

Before we can celebrate in the victory brought by Christ’s death and resurrection, we need to own up to our guilt in causing it.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:32

But when all is said and done, why did Christ die?
Was he a passive victim of murder?


“Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy;--but the Father, for love!”

He died in obedience to his Father’s will and out of love for us.

  • Now what?

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:2

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More from Chapter 2 at Challies

More chapter summaries


Barbara H. said...

It's a strange mix of feelings to be horrified and profoundly sad over an event which also causes much joy. Chris Anderson captures that perfectly in a hymn called "My Jesus Fair": http://www.churchworksmedia.com/hymns/my-jesus-fair-text/

Very good outline of who was "responsible."

Lisa notes... said...

So right, Barbara. Sometimes I do feel weird that I can celebrate Christ’s death, yet what a victory for us. I had never heard of “My Jesus Fair”—yes, it does capture it well.

“Father, forgive their senseless sin!”
He prayed, for them, for me.

So glad!


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