A while back, I was asked, “Who crucified Jesus?” Maybe the question should be, “Who didn’t crucify Jesus?”
The religious leaders played their part, as did Judas, Pilate, and, of course, the actual soldiers who put the nails in His hands and feet. Satan played his part too, but here’s something else to consider — God the Father killed Jesus.
The Bible says that “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him” (Isaiah 53:10 nkjv). This means the crucifixion of Jesus was not a mistake. Nor was it an afterthought.
It was part of God’s plan from the very beginning. Before there was a solar system, a planet called Earth, a garden called Eden, or a couple known as Adam and Eve, a decision was made in the councils of eternity that God Himself would come to earth as a man and would go to a cross and die in the place of all sinners.
Why? So that humanity could be put into contact with God. Jesus came to earth to purchase back what was lost in the Garden of Eden. He came to buy back the title deed to earth. He came to die on a cross for our sins.
Humanity’s worst mistake was, at the same time, God’s master plan.
The Bible says, “He suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9 niv). In His own words, He came to give His life as a ransom for many (see Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). In other words, Jesus was born to die so that we might live. The purpose of the Incarnation was for our atonement. The birth of Jesus was for the death of Jesus.
As He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew that Judas Iscariot was on his way there with the temple guard. He knew the physical pain that awaited Him. He knew they would punch Him, rip His beard from His face, and tear His back open with a whip. He knew they would nail Him to a cross.
But worst of all, He knew he would have to bear the sin of the entire world. When Jesus pierced the darkness with his cry from the cross, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” — meaning, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” I believe that, at that moment, he was bearing the sins of the world: past, present, and future.
He was dying as a substitute for others. The guilt of our sins was imputed to Him, and He was suffering the punishment for those sins on our behalf.
God was punishing Jesus as though He had personally committed every wicked deed by every wicked sinner. And in so doing, He could forgive and treat those redeemed ones as if they had lived Christ’s perfect life of righteousness.
This is called justification. It is not just merely the removal of sin. It is the imputing of the righteousness of Christ to those who put their faith in Him. That is what happened when Jesus hung on the cross.
And Scripture clearly teaches there was a moment when the sin of the world was placed on Jesus: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24 niv).So, as tragic as the death of Jesus was, we remember that it really is, in effect, very good! Jesus was forsaken by God for a time that you might enjoy His presence forever. Jesus entered the darkness that you might walk in the light.
Lee Strobel uses his investigative reporter skills to try to disprove the resurrection of Jesus, but instead finds the case for Christ so compelling that he becomes a Christian. Follow Lee’s journey from atheist to believer. A high-quality feature film, The Case for Christ DVD retraces Lee’s steps to faith, and is our thank-you gift to you when you donate to Harvest Ministries today.