It is a strange scene. The Jewish leaders bring Jesus to Pilate and say that they want him to crucify Jesus.
Why? Pilate asks.
Well, he’s a criminal, they say. Of course he is. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have brought him here to you.
But Pilate still can’t figure out why he is supposed to crucify Jesus, so he goes to Jesus to ask him. What did you do to make them so angry with you? But Jesus still doesn’t say anything that should get him crucified.
Pilate declares Jesus innocent, so that should be the end of the story. Once you are declared innocent, you should be set free!
But the Jews know that Pilate cannot support anyone that would be considered a king, especially not a king above Caesar, the emperor of Rome. So that is the card that they play. They tell Pilate that he is no friend of Rome if they allow this king to go on living.
So Pilate gives the order that Jesus should be crucified. The Roman soldiers will take him, along with the Jewish leaders, to be crucified.
So, who killed Jesus?
Was it the Jews? They handed Jesus over to the Romans demanding that he be crucified because they claimed that he was blaspheming and that they were jealous because the people were listening to Jesus and following him instead of them.
Or was it the Romans? They were the legal authority at the time. The Jews could not inflict any punishment upon Jesus without the authority that the Romans would provide. The Romans provided the final say, the final authority.
But there is one more important figure in this story who is the one who is truly determining Jesus’s fate.
Pilate was angry when Jesus wouldn’t speak to him. He asked Jesus: Don’t you know that I hold your fate in my hands? “Don’t you realize that I have the power to either free you or crucify you?”
But Jesus sets the record straight and says:
You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.John 19:11
Jesus points out that there is someone with much greater authority in this situation than Pilate. It is God the Father, himself, who has given Pilate the power over Jesus.
And what is worse, the high priest of the Jews has committed a great sin before as he hands Jesus, the Son of God, over to Pilate to be killed.
So, who killed Jesus?
Yes, the Jews were involved. They were, humanly speaking, the instigators to bring Jesus before Pilate.
Yes, the Romans were involved. Despite declaring Jesus to be innocent, Pilate goes ahead and kills Jesus anyway.
But it was God himself that made this plan. And it is God that is carrying out the plan. He is the one who would offer Jesus as a sacrifice. Jesus is himself God and is offering himself, offering his own blood, for the salvation of those who would put their faith in him.
It is God. He is the one who killed Jesus. He predicted Jesus’s death centuries before, and now he is carrying out his plan.